How to Hire the Perfect Candidate

Posted by | April 26, 2017 |

Interviews can be just as nerve wracking for an employer as they are for a candidate. You have a selection of CVs in front of you and a series of interviews lined up – but how do you really know which candidate is the best person for the job? As your business grows, you’ll need to hire a candidate that will able to grow with you at a steady pace, ready to take on any new challenges in the future. You’ll need someone you can rely on to utilise their qualifications and experience in your work environment. But with just a short interview to go by, how should you know who to choose?

Ask follow-up questions to interview questions

In an interview, you want the candidate to be the one talking for the majority of the time. Sure, it’s important for you to put your two cents in, but this is your opportunity to learn about them. Treat the interview as a piece of detective work; every question you ask will unearth another piece of the candidate’s story. Make sure you choose a handful of questions that are very specific to the job at hand and then, crucially, ensure you follow up their responses with more questions to delve deeper. If a candidate responds to your questions with short matter-of-fact answers, ask them why they’ve come to that conclusion. Ask them to expand their answer further, or ask them to take you through how they achieved the outcome or accomplished something in particular. A lot of candidates practise their interview questions religiously, and although you’re not trying to trick them or catch them off-guard, you’re more likely to uncover the truth through the use of follow-up questions.

Ask yourself a few crucial questions about the candidate

In life, we often rely on our gut feeling. This very much comes into play in an interview. After you’ve conducted your interview, there are a few things you should ask yourself about how the candidates portrayed themselves. Firstly, were they enthusiastic about the job opportunity? Did their faces light up when you spoke about what the job entails, and did they get excitable when they spoke about their experiences in the industry? You want to hire someone who’s career-oriented. You want to hire someone who is committed to developing the job role and helping your business to grow. Secondly, do they seem very adaptable? As we’ve already touched upon, businesses are ever-evolving and growing to suit current demands, so the job role will likely change over time, too. Were the candidates able to describe how they grew and adapted in their previous job roles?

Did the candidate ask any thoughtful questions?

In all too many interviews, candidates tend to freeze when asked if they have any questions. They all know it’s coming, but it still seems to catch them off-guard because there’s no real way to rehearse this question. That, or they’ll ask something silly or thoughtless in panic so that they at least say something. Here, you’re not looking for the candidate to ask you any old rubbish to prove that they can think on the spot. For example, “What are the working hours?” and “How many people work here?” aren’t particularly thoughtful. Instead, you’re looking to see if they really listened to you and responded well to what you had to say about the job role and your company’s future prospects. Great questions include “What is your company’s primary market and how does it look to grow in the future?” and “Do you offer any sort of training programs for new employees? I’m keen to learn.”

Does the candidate seem like a strong team player?

Most job roles require teamwork – even if the position includes a lot of solitary work. The candidate will always report to someone, and may even have people reporting to them. So, it’s crucial that they work well within a team environment. The last thing you want is someone running around like a lone ranger. The business world requires a lot of collaboration; putting heads together to come up with fresh and exciting ideas. In a way, a work team is a like a close-knit family, expected to communicate well together, keep spirits high, and increase momentum throughout the working week. That’s why you need to hire a candidate that you can see fitting into your team. Do they seem like they’d cooperate well with others? Do you think that they could aid productivity in the team? A strong repertoire of individual skills is great – but only if those skills can be utilised within your team.

Could the candidate admit to any mistakes they’ve made?

A common interview question is: “Tell me about the last time you made a mistake.” This is terrifying for a candidate. On the one hand, they don’t want to admit to making mistakes because that shows that they have weaknesses. But on the other hand, they don’t want to act all high and mighty. How they choose to answer this question is often crucial in your decision-making. Admitting mistakes isn’t an admission of a lack of ability of skill when it comes to the job role. Everyone makes mistakes, right? The important thing to remember here is that you have to make mistakes to be able to learn and grow from them. The most successful business people have made lots of mistakes in their time. In turn, they’ve also gained the most valuable lessons in the business world. A candidate who can a) own up to mistakes they’ve made, b) tell you about how they resolved the mistakes, and c) describe to you what they’ve learnt from those mistakes, is a candidate that you can safely assume won’t give up in your role. You want a learner and a grower – not someone who thinks they’re already perfect.

Give the candidate a test or a problem to solve

If you’ve conducted all your interviews and you’re still torn between a few candidates, you are allowed to welcome them back for a practical second interview. Alternatively, some employers like to give their candidates a little test during the first interview – it all depends on the type of job up for grabs. You’ve learnt all about the history and experiences of your candidates, but a vocal interview can only take you so far; it doesn’t always help you get to grips with how far the candidate’s analytical skills go. To help clear this up, you could ask the candidate to solve a problem that they might face in the workplace, challenging them to describe how they would go about doing it. You could even give them a short job-related project to complete prior to their second interview, and then ask them to present their case to you when they come in. If the candidate is interviewing for a writing role, ask them to complete a short writing test within your industry during the interview. If the candidate is interviewing for a designing role, ask them to mock up some designs related your company prior to the interview – they’ll be happy to oblige if they’re serious about the position. The important thing to remember here is that anyone can lie on a CV and a lot of people have the gift of the gab, able to present themselves very well to strangers. If you really want to get to the root of a candidate’s skill set, present them with a skills assessment so that they can show you what they can do. The type of test that you conduct here is up to you – so long as it’s relevant to the job role.