HR Insights

Assessing a Job Applicant

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August 20, 2016
Interviews involve a lot of work, both for the recruiter and candidate. And in business, the old adage is true—time is money. So what’s the trick to accurately assessing a candidate on the spot? We’ve got some simple steps for you to hone in on what’s important, fast!

1. Have clear objectives.

First things first: you must have a clear picture of your target candidate. Review and refine the job description, and keep those ideal traits in mind. Then, adjust your interview process to target the characteristics, talents, personalities, and skills you are looking for. Being crystal clear on these items will help you quickly separate the good candidates from the excellent during interviews.

2. Develop a system.

Quirky out-of-the-box interview questions and laid back, on-the-fly interviews may be easier and more casual to conduct, but are they going to help objectively rank a candidate? Unstructured interviews with vague or varying questions make analysis nearly impossible. On the other hand, carefully planned and consistently executed interviews provide an accurate way to compare apples to apples, so to speak. And, standardized interviews are a must-do for accurate comparison when you have multiple people interviewing candidates for the same job.

3. First impressions aren’t everything. 

Humans are quick to judge. We just are. And it’s all too common that the first few minutes of interaction are used to either qualify or disqualify a candidate. We’re quick to make assumptions, and this can flavor entire interviews. Psychologists have even studied how our minds tend to seek out support for our judgments in order to confirm them. So be careful with your initial impressions. Give the candidate a chance to warm up before making a snap judgment.

4. Test the specifics.

Did you know that a basic, unstructured job interview only represents about 14% of an employee’s potential? A better way to assess real-world skill is often through IQ and personality testing or sample work exercises. While these tests can’t predict performance with 100% accuracy, they generally give solid insight into work ethic, learning ability, and skills.

Assessing candidates objectively can make or break a good hire. Next time you’re hiring, try out these tried-and-true techniques to get a well-rounded picture of your candidate’s true potential. It’ll help you find that next rockstar employee.