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7 Ways to Efficiently Assess Potential Employees

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Brandon Stanley. His opinions are his own.

Seriously: how do you know if someone has better potential than another candidate? I’m not talking about writing skills, technical skills, and specific industry-related skills. Those, you can measure. What about the candidate’s skills to fit in the office environment? We have quite a problem there.

Although it doesn’t look like the most significant aspect of a hire, poor culture fit may cost the organization 50-60% of the employee’s annual salary. Now it seems serious, doesn’t it?

It’s time for the ultimate tips on how to assess potential employees to their full potential.

1. Know your company’s culture

It’s surprising to see how many HR managers can’t specifically define their company’s culture.

The culture changes by the day. Whenever new people come in, they bring part of their uniqueness into the organization. That’s not an excuse, though. A HR manager has to be on top of these developments. They have to understand the organization’s culture, so they will bring in people who fit in without too much effort.

The solution is in a detailed cultural inventory, which gives you specific measures to apply during the recruitment process. Start by describing your company’s culture in a single page. Include all aspects you can think of, such as schedules, employee recognition programs, vacations, travel… things you can measure with data. Then, include the things that cannot be specifically measured. Energy, attitude, humour, vibe… those things.

When you have this information, you’ll be able to hire new employees who will not only fit into the environment, but will also get the company’s culture to thrive.

2. Mind your first impressions

Although your first impressions are not imperative, they are still valid. You’re making them without much consideration. It’s your intuition telling you if this is the right person for the job.

  • This guy would make the entire office laugh.
  • She has a kind smile.
  • His shoes are clean, so he pays attention to detail.

See?

You won’t be fully guided by intuition, since the hiring process still has to do with specific metrics. However, you should definitely consider your first impressions.

3. Be the “stalker”

Kidding. You’re not a stalker when you check a candidate’s social media profiles. You’re just doing your job.

If you see a candidate with active and honest presence on social media, you can evaluate their communication skills and attitude towards other people. You get to see their sense of humor and proof of their interests.

If you have a candidate who looks awesome on these sites, you’re halfway home.

The downside is: not everyone likes social media. Some people don’t post that frequently. It doesn’t mean they wouldn’t fit in your company’s culture. Keep that in mind when you see someone who doesn’t have a negative reputation on social media, but is not impressive either.

4. Ask the trickiest question of all

What changes would you make if you were the leader of this company?

This one of the most interesting questions to ask during an interview. It gives you insights into the candidate’s soft skills. First of all, you see how well they can handle a challenging situation. They are forced to think quickly and communicate their ideas in the clearest way possible. Plus, the answer shows you how well they researched your company. If they know enough about your current projects, it means they did their homework and their interest to work for you is genuine.

Imagine this answer: “I would alternate the marketing campaign, so it would target a larger audience. Currently, you’re showing only young and beautiful people in your ads. That’s not your target audience. This product is being used by older people, too, and I feel like your marketing campaign isn’t inviting enough for them.”

It gives you a lot of information about the candidate, doesn’t it?

According to Taylor Brown, a hiring manager at RushMyEssay UK, there’s only one flaw with this approach: “It confuses most of the candidates. So far, I’ve seen only few people giving brilliant answers. Currently, they are some of my most valuable team members. However, I’ve also given chances to candidates who didn’t do well with this question, and they are still at what they do.”

So don’t make this your one and only method of evaluation. It’s a great technique to rely on, but it’s not a magical solution.

5. Don’t limit your observations to the interview room

The interview room is not the natural habitat of your candidate. They cannot act like they would in regular situations.

Observe how these candidates interact with people outside the interview room. What was their attitude with your office manager or receptionist, for example? If you’re interviewing multiple candidates in the same day and you have them all in the waiting room, send out an “undercover agent,” who will observe how they interact with one another.

When you evaluate their personality during the interview, compare it with the notes you get about their behavior outside the room? If you notice they are quite different, it means the candidate put on a great act.

The negative thing about this method is that it’s not always possible to do. If you’re interviewing candidates over Skype, for example, you can’t see how they act in a waiting room. In that case, use social media to evaluate the way they naturally communicate with people.

6. Give them a test drive

When you ask someone if they are ready to handle specific responsibilities, you usually get the same answer: “Sure!”

They think they are ready. According to the resume and soft skills you assessed, you also have the impression they are ready. When they get to action, however, they (or you!) realize they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.

Starbucks found a great way to make this testing process simpler: they offer a virtual job tryout for people who want to work for them. If you’re not ready for such a big step, you can stick to the good old test period in the offices.

During this period, you can measure job-related skills, as well as cognitive skills, such as attention to detail. You can also see how well they fit in the organization’s culture.

There’s a downside: you’re evaluating them during the adaptation period. The new culture may come as a shock to them, so they are not able to show their full potential before they fully adapt. To overcome this pitfall, you must make the experience as stress-free as possible for them.

7. Look beneath the surface

In many ways, the recruiter is a psychologist. When they interview a potential employee, they must scratch beneath the surface. The body language, the choice of words, the level of stress that comes through… everything tells you something about this person.

Ask questions that would help them reveal their personality. “What do you usually do on weekends?” If they tell you they take online courses, it means they like learning. If they tell you they usually go to the spa, it means they like to care about themselves. Cover all bases, so you won’t simply focus on assessing job-specific skills.

The answers you get, the strength of the handshake, the eye contact… everything matters. We can’t learn how to hire the perfect candidates in a day. It’s a process. Even the most experienced HR managers make mistakes now and then. But, being more mindful about the entire process and relying on the right methods (the ones described above) definitely helps.

Brandon Stanley

Brandon Stanley is a professional independent journalist. He is interested in writing articles concerning career and HR-management. Apart from that, Brandon loves traveling and playing the piano.

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