Are you hiring the best candidate for the role or the best in an interview?

You’ve posted an ad, reviewed all the resumes, gone through your screening process, interviewed the best of the bunch, and now you’re down to the final two candidates. It’s decision time. First, there is John, interviewing him is easy. You ask him a question, and he smashes it with a well-crafted answer. You cannot fault his interview game.

Then there is Claire. Her resume looks perfect on paper. She has all the right experience, worked at the best companies and comes with excellent references.

However, she is a little messy in the interview. She is stumbling and mumbling through questions, and struggling to find her words. She is just not giving you any of the right answers. Her resume tells you that she can do the job, but she is not convincing you in the interview.

So are you going to choose John or Claire? John, I assume. However, is John the best candidate or just the best candidate in an interview? In many cases, job interviews are not a reflection of what the day to day job will entail.


In saying that, there are roles that an interview gives the candidate the opportunity to demonstrate the jobs requirements. A sales or customer service role require good communication, quick thinking and interpersonal skills. Does the Health and Saftey Officer, Carpenter or the Forklift Operator need to be top performing in an interview?


If you are looking to improve your chances of hiring the best candidate for the job, as opposed to the best interviewer then get clear on the role requirements.


Outline the role requirements, not just what is on the job description. Clarify the skills needed and the five most necessary behavioural traits of your ideal candidate. Maybe go a little further and identify what is not essential to this role.


We now know what you are looking for, but what is best way a candidate can demonstrate both their skills and behavioural traits? Rather than relying on the interview, think about what kind of tests can be used to showcase the primary tasks of the role.

Here are four tools to add to your interview process:

1. Provide them with a problem to solve.

Outline a problem that they are going to face in the role regularly. Ask the candidate to respond with how they would solve the problem. Adding problem-solving to the application process will give you a clearer understanding of how the candidate will perform in the role. During the next interview, discuss their response and their rationale behind their thinking.

2. Ask the candidate to complete an activity

Ask your shortlisted candidates to complete an activity or project that would be part of the job before an interview.  Their response will show what the candidate is capable of, and more discussion can take place in the interview. Examples of an activity include asking a sales executive to deliver a sales pitch, a Health and Safety officer to do a sample incident report or a project manager to write a project plan.


3. Have a more informal interview

Consider taking the candidate out for coffee or lunch with a few members of the team and see how they all interact together. Think carefully about what team members you should invite. You will be able to judge whether the candidate is good at communicating, listening, are they interested in what others are saying.


4. Discuss the candidate’s passions

Everyone has something that he or she is passionate about, use this opportunity to ask the candidate to discuss his or her number one passion. It doesn’t matter if it’s cooking, being a parent, juggling or hurling. Listen to what they say, how they talk and how they relay their passion to you. You will find out so much more about whom you are hiring by delving into their hobbies and interests.


Try out these recruitment tactics to see a more relevant side of your candidate. These added tricks will help you hire the best candidate, and it may help identify the candidate who is most likely to stay with you long term.


If you think that this will turn candidates off the job, then consider that any candidate that unwilling to participate in an additional interview step is likely not a good fit for the role, and it is better to know now and not after months of investing in them.  


By adding these additional steps to your recruitment process, you will identify the best candidate for the role, not just the candidate who excels at the interview.

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