Everything you need to know about evaluating interview candidates

October 11, 2022
Mikaella McInerney
Everything you need to know about evaluating interview candidates

Think back to your last job interview. The nerves, the anticipation. The awkward feeling of sitting across from a stranger. Wondering whether they’ll like you… or your company!

That’s right, job interviewers get nerves just as often as interviewees. There’s a lot of pressure and a lot to consider when evaluating interview candidates to make sure you pick the right person for the role. You need to think about skills, experience, education, salary expectations, cultural fit, answers, references, and timeline expectations. How can you evaluate all of that in one time-restricted meeting?

In this article, we’ll explain how to evaluate candidates during a job interview. Read on to never feel nervous again!

How to evaluate interview candidates

As we said above, there’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re evaluating interview candidates. That’s why the smartest evaluation technique is to break it down into a range of important categories.

  • Skills: Whether your candidate has the skills the position requires. These include both hard and soft skills, so depending upon the role you’ll be looking for things like coding ability, copywriting training, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and more.
  • Experience: Whether your candidate has related experience in the job, function and industry to perform well in your role. In this category, you can also think about their education. Make sure that you conduct reference checks to confirm all their professional experience veracity!
  • Salary and timeline: You’ve determined that they’re the right candidate for the role—but are you the right company for them? Ensure that you and your candidate are aligned in what they expect as a salary to ensure expectations fit budgets. You also need to make sure that they can start in their position at the time you need them to. This category is all about logistics!
  • Cultural fit: Whether your candidate is a good fit for the culture of your organization and the other employees working there, and not someone who will be disruptive or upsetting. Cultural fit is a tricky category to assess, and it should not be weighted as highly as other, more significant considerations as to whether the candidate will perform well in the role. Make sure that “cultural fit” doesn’t mean “one culture”!

If you keep these four key categories in mind and work to evaluate the candidate based on them, you’ll be in a great position to compare each candidate fairly and pick the best person for the role.

Examples of evaluating job candidates

So you have your important evaluation categories. Now how can you actually delve into each of these? In this section, we’ll give you examples of great questions you can use in each category to evaluate candidates during an interview.

Questions for skills evaluation

Skills evaluation is a tricky category. On the one hand, you’re talking about soft skills, which are most easily evaluated in a question-and-answer format. But hard skills might be hard to judge in that format—“What are your coding skills?” is unlikely to get you a particularly useful or empirical answer. We advise using talent assessment tests to evaluate hard skills. Then, you can test soft skills with questions like the following:

  • How do you manage and prioritize multiple projects with their own individual deadlines?
  • Tell me about a time when you struggled to collaborate with a team member? What did you do?
  • What is the most significant problem you ever had to solve in a workplace?
  • Let’s say you’re working on a project with a clear brief and goals. The day before it’s due, your client asks you to change the focus. How would you approach this?
  • Can you walk me through a time when you’ve had to explain something complicated to someone who wasn’t familiar with the topic?

Questions for experience evaluation

On the one hand, experience evaluation questions can be quite straightforward: you could ask your candidate to walk you through their CV, explain why they changed jobs at a certain time, and give you an overview of their professional history. On the other hand, now is the chance for you to dig deeper! If you’re particularly interested in one element of your candidate’s professional background or educational history, ask questions tailored to that. You could also ask more specific experience evaluation questions like:

  • In your past jobs, would you say you were a high, medium or low performer?
  • How often did you reach out to your manager or peers for feedback?
  • What is the support you require to perform highly?
  • What type of work environment do you prefer?
  • What did you like and dislike about your previous job?

Questions for salary and timeline

This is quite a straightforward category, as it is all about logistics! Make sure to ask:

  • What are your salary expectations for this role?
  • When would you be able to start working in this role?

Questions for cultural fit

As we’ve mentioned, cultural fit is difficult to assess and should not be weighted as highly as other categories. Make sure you’re assessing your candidate as objectively as you can and not just on a gut feeling, and whenever possible, rely on data-driven insights. Having said that, having someone who’s going to work smoothly with the rest of the company and contribute positively to your organization is very important! Here are some questions to help you get a sense of how your candidate might join your organization’s culture.

  • What gets you excited about going to work?
  • What three words would your manager or colleagues use to describe you? What about your friends?
  • Which of our company’s core values do you most identify with?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • Why do you want to work for us?

Why should recruiters conduct candidate interview evaluations?

From the above questions and categories, you should be able to see just how important candidate interview evaluations are. Candidate interview evaluations offer huge insights into individual candidates, give you a benchmark to compare competing candidates against one another, and help you make the decision about who will be able to perform well in the role. When you add reference checks and talent assessment tests to the mix, you’ll be all set to hire the best candidate every time!

Evaluating interview candidates is vital to successful recruitment…

But it can be overwhelming. If you’re struggling to gather all this data and accurately compare your candidates with data-driven insights—or if you would just like to free up some of your own time—use HiPeople! We offer smart hiring assessments that mean you’ll already be evaluating and understanding your candidates well before they step into the interview room. Book a demo today.