Qualified or Likeable? How to Figure Out Who Your Candidate Is

By Sarah Freiburger

As recruiters or employers, we all know that the ideal goals of interviewing a candidate are to expose potential issues, reveal strengths, ensure that there is a fit with salary and compensation, evaluate personality against company culture, and verify qualifications, skills, and abilities for the role. Unfortunately, human nature often can cloud some of these key points when you relate personally to certain candidates over others. Many times, you can be drawn to personality traits that cause the candidate to appear stronger even if they are not the best one for the role. Even more than personal taste and bias, many are also likely to try and hire a similar employee to the one who was last in the role if they were successful, or the opposite if they were not highly reviewed.

Here are five important concepts to keep top of mind in any interview, regardless of the amount of experience you have.

  1. Standardize your interview process. Before you start to recruit and further qualify candidates, create a new job description that lists only the essential skills and experience required. As Betterteam states, “A good description shouldn’t over describe. It should focus on what is absolutely necessary for someone to be successful in the position, and describe what success looks like over specific periods of time – typically 30, 90, 180 days and 1 year.” Rank, or color code these in order of importance and keep your own radar up on knowing what extra qualities or transferable skills could fill in the gaps, but the top ones make sure you are keeping as a hard barrier to moving a candidate forward. It is always a good idea to have a partner, colleague, or team member also double check for matches of skill, experience, and cultural fit. This will help further cement confidence in final candidate choices. Each interview should also include a real work sample to see how the candidate would start and finish a task similar to what they are going to be encountering.

2. References are provided but you need to dig deeper. Obviously, most times the references provided by a candidate will be ones they assume would be very positive. Due to this, sometimes recruiters or employers take this less seriously, when in reality references and your network could be the best source of who the candidate is and how they would fit in the environment when they are not on stage. Focus on the tone and specific examples the references give when referring to the candidate, and try to describe your organization or the skills you have considered a top need for this role and see how the references believe the candidate fits in. Linked-In makes it slightly easier to also consult your own network to determine any cross over with someone who has worked previously with that candidate to gain their opinion as well.

3. What is their motivation to work each day? This is a question that should not be skipped over or assumed when interviewing candidates for roles. This exact question will be one that you are able to constantly revert to during negotiations and offers, and the answer could remove poor fit candidates from the beginning as well. For instance, those that show more energy and curiosity tend to exhibit pragmatic thinking, stay on top of trends and what is happening in business around them, and their natural energy usually translates to leadership or energizing those around them. If they are willing to invest in themselves, they usually also grow and learn well from others, which helps teams develop more unified and collaborative working environments for better culture.

4. Know your bias. The strength of hiring a good candidate is sometimes realized by knowing your own weaknesses. A good exercise is to practice interviewing or having one on one conversation with those team members or employees that fall outside of the standard personality traits you are drawn to, and be able to analyze their qualities in a subjective manner. If you are someone who is drawn to humor and sarcasm, try and build a better relationship with a coworker who is the opposite and see what other strong qualities you deem them to have that you might not have immediately noticed. The more differing personalities you sort through with this exercise, the easier you will be able to turn off your natural willingness to interview those more similar to you or what you are drawn to.

5. Stay up on the millennial shifts. The time of millennials in the workplace and taking on higher roles is upon us. The Millennial Branding survey revealed that 43 percent of employers want to hire employees who are a great cultural fit. For millienials, this has a lot to do with work life balance, and a company with staff who butts heads on what this balance looks like tends to create conflict and hostility in the work force. As a recruiter, a good initial question to begin incorporating is what does the work life balance of the team look like? What are ideal working hours daily or weekly for this team, and how important are benefits or flexibility?

Naturally, this is not an end all guide to evaluating each candidate, but perhaps you have realized that your standardized process could use a refresh, or you may spend some time evaluating new interview questions your candidate may hear at further interviews. Review these sample interview questions from The Balance Careers to further refine your core categories for interviewing candidates.

 


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