How To Evaluate Interview Candidates: A Step-By-Step Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Making thoughtful hiring decisions is an important part of your responsibilities if you are a hiring manager or human resources specialist. Interviewing candidates and grading them effectively can assist you in making more informed hiring decisions. Understanding how to conduct productive interview evaluations can help you make the best hiring decision possible. In this article, we discuss the importance of interview evaluations and steps and tips for evaluating interview candidates.

How to evaluate interview candidates effectively

Follow these steps to learn how to evaluate interview candidates effectively:

1. Consider their skills

The first step in interview evaluation is to consider the candidates' hard and soft skills. Give preference to candidates who possess the technical skills required to address the job's responsibilities. Soft skills are important to consider when evaluating your candidates' abilities to complete tasks as this can affect how they interact with colleagues, customers, clients and managers.

2. Reflect on their experience

Consider candidates' professional experiences after you evaluate their skills. To do so, think about how similar their previous job roles were to the one they are applying for, how much experience they have and how their previous responsibilities align with current ones. It is also crucial to think about previous accomplishments and how those accomplishments demonstrate their ability to succeed in the current role.

3. Assess their education background

Examining candidates' education background can provide you with valuable insight into the specialised training they have undergone. Advanced levels of education may be required to complete basic job duties in some fields, such as health care or engineering. In other cases, a candidate's ability to succeed may not directly depend on their educational background.

Before comparing the educational backgrounds of different candidates, consider the specialised training required for the open position. When researching educational backgrounds, it may also be beneficial to evaluate academic performance. This could include examining test scores, grades and GPAs‌. Academic achievements that stand out could be a sign of a candidates' initiative, a strong work ethic and expertise in a particular field.

4. Compare salary expectations

Comparing salary expectations can help you understand if the company's budget is in line with a candidate's demands. Compare their salary expectations to the salary budget the company sets for the role. You may want to increase your salary budget to align with a highly qualified candidate's salary expectations. Sometimes, you may want to reach an agreement with a qualified candidate by negotiating a lower salary figure.

5. Determine cultural fit

Making a successful hire involves evaluating a cultural fit. Hire professionals who can contribute to developing the culture and productivity of a workplace. Consider personality, values and communication style to evaluate how well a candidate can fit into the existing cultural fabric of an institution.

Related: What Is Corporate Culture? (Definition And Different Types)

6. Evaluate responses

Candidates' responses to interview questions can provide you with a lot of information about their ability and motivation to succeed in a role. It is critical to take notes while listening to candidates' responses so that you can refer to them afterwards. Engaging candidates with hypothetical scenarios or past events can help you gain a better understanding of how they would perform in a particular position at a company. Reflecting on and comparing responses of multiple candidates can help you contextualise the abilities of individuals and compare their strengths and weaknesses.

7. Verify references

Verifying references is a crucial aspect of candidate evaluations. Contact the references that candidates provide to obtain feedback on their previous work. If multiple references corroborate and verify the information that a candidate presents, such as skills and experiences, they may have a better chance of succeeding in the role in question. If there are discrepancies between a candidate's application materials and their references' testimonies, it might be a good idea to investigate further.

Related: What Are References? (Types, Benefits And Examples)

8. Confirm timeline expectations

Another important aspect of the evaluation process is confirming timeline expectations. Ask about candidates' current jobs and notice obligations. Check to see if their preferred start date corresponds to the company's requirements so that you can maintain adequate staffing. Include information regarding training and probationary periods in your discussion to ensure that candidates understand and agree with existing onboarding policies and practices.

9. Get second opinions

Other members of the HR department, managers and administrative decision-makers may find it beneficial to take part in a candidate evaluation process. To get second opinions on front-runner candidates, meet with members of your department and other departments where the candidate may find themselves working in. Second opinions can help you confirm candidate preferences and uncover the information you may not have found on your own.

Related: SWOT Analysis Guide (With Examples)

Why are interview evaluations important?

There are several reasons interview evaluations are an important part of making a successful hire, including:

Hiring the right candidate

Interviewing candidates and evaluating them thoroughly can assist you in making informed decisions that could lead to a successful hire. Hiring the best candidate for a job has several advantages, including ensuring the candidate's success and maintaining a positive work environment. Completing interview evaluations with other members of your team can help you gain additional insights and make the best hiring decisions for a company.

Contributing to work environment

It is critical that candidates have the ‌skills, education and experience required to succeed in a role. It is also important for new hires to mingle well with the existing team of professionals at a company. Assuring a cultural fit between new hires and current employees can keep a workplace healthy, maintain positive working relationships and ensure that company values stay consistent over time.

Ensuring success

Examining interview candidates thoroughly can help you ensure their professional success and the success of a business organisation. Try to assess as many aspects of candidates as possible and to seek second opinions whenever you feel it is necessary to do so. Hiring candidates with a high likelihood of success can save an organisation time and money by avoiding the need to repeat the recruitment process.

Tips for evaluating interview candidates effectively

Below are some additional tips to help you evaluate interview candidates effectively:

Consider body language

A candidate's body language often reveals qualities like confidence, humility and integrity. To identify self-assured candidates, look for signs of confidence, such as maintaining consistent eye contact and sitting up straight. Confident candidates may become successful hires who fit into cross-functional teams and departments with ease. Candidates who appear nervous or show signs of anxiety, such as fidgeting or broken eye contact, may be more introverted and may perform better in self-contained roles.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Nonverbal Communication Skills

Check candidates' social media

Some employers may choose to look at the social media profiles of their candidates. Consider researching candidates' social media profiles to get a comprehensive sense of their formative influences and personality. Examining a candidate's priorities and lifestyle choices can sometimes provide insight into their professional behaviour. For example, if a candidate posts pictures of volunteer work outside of their core professional domain, they may possess a strong sense of motivation and may be able to work well with groups of diverse professionals.

Assign tests

You can assign tests and assessments to candidates and evaluate their performance on them, along with interview performance, if you want to get a better idea of how capable each candidate is. Writing tests, computer tests, knowledge base tests and technical assessments are all examples of such evaluations. Candidates who complete assessments successfully may have a better chance of succeeding in a related role.

Actively listen to responses

Listening intently to candidates is beneficial for both you and the candidate. Make sure you allow enough time for them to respond to each question thoughtfully. Pay attention not only to what they say but also to their facial expressions and tone. You can get a better sense of who the candidate is as a person and as a professional when you actively listen to their responses.

Take notes

It can be easier to remember each candidate and the experience you had with them when you make relevant notes during the interview. Rather than writing ‌what they say word for word, use keywords to help you remember important points from the interview. For example, if a candidate describes their day-to-day work at their previous job, you can write one or two relevant keywords for each responsibility. You can also make notes in margins and highlight or circle certain parts of their resume to improve visibility.

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