You think you’ve found your next candidate, and they look good on paper, but how do you test this before you hire them?
Many roles need specific skills, so how do you check that your next digital marketing officer can use Google Analytics? Or that you’ve secured an accounts clerk with a meticulous eye for detail? Is it just a case of using your instinct to ascertain whether an interviewee is trustworthy, or are there other ways of making sure that people can do everything on their CV? Here are a few suggestions:
Use appropriate assessments
To start devising a skills test, think about the qualities you’re looking for. There are a multitude of recruitment tools to choose from, so decide what you want to know and research to see what’s available. For example, if you’re looking for a web developer, TestDome allows you to create assessments for any coding language or technology. It might be that you decide to ask candidates for a writing sample, a project or a presentation. Remember that some people perform better under pressure than others, and that many will achieve higher results once they’ve fully integrated within your company as a new employee. It’s worth reflecting on how important it is that the interviewee is able to complete the assessment and adjusting the level of difficulty accordingly. Are you searching for talented individuals who can achieve above and beyond? Or do you need to make sure your next marketing assistant can complete a press release, something which they should be able to do quickly and easily?
Consider work trials
Work trials can be controversial, in fact a number of MPs are calling for the government to end unpaid trial shifts. However, they’re also a very effective way to see what candidates are like in a work environment and how they cope under pressure – there is no better way of seeing what it might be like to have someone working for you. When you’re arranging a work trial, consider what is reasonable: keep it short, give candidates specific tasks to do within that time and consider rewarding people at the end, perhaps with a voucher. Work trials can benefit interviewees as well as employers, the process works both ways, as it’s also a good opportunity for them to find out more about you and whether they’d like to work for you. To follow best practice, when sending a trial invite, make sure you outline what it will entail so that everyone knows what to expect.
Seek advice from people with specialist knowledge
In your hiring career, it’s likely that you’ll be recruiting people with skills and experience that are different to the ones on your own CV. Sometimes, this may pose a challenge. So, how do you make sure someone is the right fit when you’re not an expert yourself? In this situation, it may be helpful to turn to employees who can support you with interview assessments. Don’t shy away from asking questions about technical skills in interview, instead, find someone who can help you draft these or even sit in on meetings with potential candidates. If you need advice, consider using a recruitment agency, who will be experts in their field and can assess people before they enter the process. This will give you peace of mind, as you’ll only be sent people who are suitable for the role.
Look for evidence when candidates list their skills
As you know, your job as in interviewer is to scrutinise. With this in mind, don’t take things at face value. Make sure you listen carefully – do candidates have the evidence to back up their points? And if they don’t mention this, ask them for examples. Unless you’re looking for a junior or trainee employee, you’ll want people who have experience, who have used the skills they mention time and time again. By carefully crafting your interview questions, you should be able to get a clear picture of how knowledgeable someone really is. If you’re still not sure, check their references. Of course, you’ll need to get permission to do this, but often, speaking to a candidate’s current and former work colleagues can give you a good insight into their honesty and integrity.
About the author
Kate Allen is the MD of Allen Associates, one of Oxfordshire’s leading independent recruitment agencies, that specialises in Marketing, Finance, PA/Admin and HR roles. In 2018, Allen Associates launched their first London office, specialising in Marketing, HR and PA/Admin roles.