As tough as job interviews are for the applicants, they’re even harder on the other side of the table. You spend just a few minutes with each candidate and the decision you make based on that time can last for years. Who will be the best person for the available position? Who will be the best fit for your company and its culture? The key to landing great hires is to be able to understand the candidates in front of you. Here are three tips for doing just that.

Offer Them Feedback


Finding someone who already has the necessary knowledge and experience necessary to fill the available position is important, but just as important is that they be able to learn, grow, and improve over time. While the former is something that comes across on paper, the latter can be more difficult to gauge. In order to understand your candidates fully, you need to know how they respond to constructive feedback.

During the interview process, find something they say that you can give feedback on. If they’re talking about how they would handle a particular problem, or how they did handle one in a previous job, suggest an alternative solution that could also work. If they get defensive about your criticism and refuse to consider it, or continue arguing that theirs is the only possible option, then learning and growth on the job probably isn’t one of their strong suits.

On the other hand, if they automatically agree with what you’ve said and abandon their own position in favor of yours without thinking about it or talking about it at all, then they’re not so much learning or growing as blindly following orders. Look for someone willing to talk about the pros and cons of each option and discuss why one or the other might be the correct course of action. That’s someone you want on your team.

Ask Them about Personal Projects

Truly understanding someone means more than just knowing what they’re like in their job. You need to know what kind of person they are apart from your company. What are they passionate about? What do they do when they’re not working? What motivates them? Seeing how they talk about the things they care about is perhaps one of the best insights you can get into what that person will be like to work with.

Talk to Your Current Employees

One of the best ways to understand your job candidates is to talk to the employees you’ve already hired and get their thoughts. Where did they find your job listing? What was the interview process like for them? What recommendations do they have? Obviously, trying to find someone exactly like them or to duplicate their journey with someone else is a futile pursuit, but their input can help you better understand what you’re looking for and the type of worker who fits in well at your company.

It can also be helpful to bring one of your current employees in on the interview process. Have them in the interview room with you, and/or have candidates shadow them for a bit. They’re the ones who will have to work side by side with whomever you end up hiring and their insight into what makes a good worker can be invaluable.

The decision about whom to hire can be a difficult and stressful one. But the better you can understand your candidates, the easier and more rewarding it becomes. Develop a hiring process that really helps you get to know your candidates, not just on paper, but in the real world. Try to discover what they’ll be like within your company culture. If you can do that, you’ll be more likely to find employees who will serve you well for years to come.


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