J Patrick + Associates Blog

How to Identify the Best Candidate in the Interview

Posted by Nicholas Stearns on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 @ 11:00 AM




We all want to hire a Rock star. You know, the employee who not only performs phenomenally, but also raises the bar for the rest  of the company. Previously, we’ve explored how to avoid missing out on the perfect candidate, and Five Questions to Ask When Interviewing. But how do you find this person among all of the other interviewees you have? What can you do to go beyond a resume and references?

Here are some tips to use during the interview to pan the gold in the dirt.


Practice Run.

Interviews are a great way to measure someone with your own eyes, but they don’t tell the whole story. Some candidates give stellar interviews, but that’s not always a good indicator of their real performance potential. A valuable way to judge a candidate that you are serious about is to have them do a few mock tasks, actions that would be a part of their job. Practice sales calls, running a training seminar, or even conducting their own interview on you. This is an invaluable way to measure how they will actually work, going far beyond a few simple questions.  


The Chair:

Over the course of your time with the candidate make note of what they do with their chair. Did they push it in when they got up? Take note of all of the mannerisms they exhibit. What do they do with trash? Was their clothing neat and tidy?? Ironed or wrinkled? While making the occasional faux pas or bumble during an interview is to be expected and should not be held against a candidate, you are looking for what could be on-going patterns of behavior and/or preparedness. This is a person who will be representing your brand, make sure the way they comport themselves is in line with your expectations.


Run the Gauntlet:

Having the candidate’s potential direct superior running the interview is great way to give them the chance to directly evaluate their hire. But there are others who should get the chance to talk to them: the coworkers on the same level as them, and the other team leaders they might be working with. Making sure that not only can they work with their boss, but everyone laterally and vertically around them is just as important. If they can’t make a connection with the team, no matter how skilled, they may end up having trouble fitting into your organization’s culture.


How much Time to set Aside ?

An oft asked question is how long should be set aside for the interview. The answer will change with a number of different factors, such as if you plan for mock tasks or extra time for others to interview them. But start with a minimum of an hour. This gives you enough time to ask your questions, let them ask their questions, and then have extra to go on pertinent tangents. Take the time to explore something interesting they said; get a more personal feel for their personality, and generally let the conversation go naturally, rather than forcing your way through a set of questions.


Beyond the Interview

No interview is ever going to fully expose everything you need to know about a candidate. No matter how much you pack in, the only way to get a true measure of how someone will fit is to actually hire them. But with these tips, you can a far more complete picture of the people you’re interviewing and how they will work in your organization.  


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