Australia’s job market is becoming increasingly more competitive and with some job listings attracting thousands of applicants, picking the best candidate can become an overwhelming exercise.
Resumes and cover letters only tell part of the candidate’s story, and it is during the job interview that the hiring manager can really ascertain if the candidate is the right fit for the role and the business. So, how can you gear an interview to ensure you are getting the full picture and make a decision about the candidate’s suitability for the role?
While it is important to focus on hard and soft skills, you should also assess the candidate’s career aspirations and cultural fit, too. This is because a candidate may have all of the technical skills required but be lacking the emotional intelligence needed to be successful in the role or they may have goals or future plans that don’t align with the trajectory of the role or the company.
Here’s how to use an interview to gauge if the candidate is the best fit for your company.
Assessing hard skills during a job interview
Hard skills are the technical skills a candidate is expected to possess to enable them to do their job efficiently. They are typically skills that are learned either through education, training, or previous work experience.
Being able to identify hard skills is an important part of the recruitment process and should be done prior to listing the position, however, an interview gives the hiring manager the opportunity to delve deeper into the candidate’s proficiency in each skill.
An interviewer may ask a candidate to describe how they would put the hard skill into practice or recall a time that they have had to use the hard skill and how their proficiency in the skill would help them achieve success in the role.
The candidate’s possession of hard skills may also require proof, which can be obtained through testing or setting short tasks before or after the interview, such as typing a certain amount of words per minute, using a particular software program, or troubleshooting a common problem.
Assessing soft skills during a job interview
Soft skills are personality traits that are sometimes unteachable. They are the traits that make people successful relationship managers and useful team members and are a crucial part of most jobs. In many cases, soft skills are what differentiate candidates who look just good on paper from those who are also good in practice.
Soft skills can usually be demonstrated, so an interview is a perfect time for a candidate to prove they possess them. To highlight these skills, the interviewer might ask the candidate to discuss a time when they displayed exemplary interpersonal skills, either through customer service, with another stakeholder, or at a time when the candidate felt they built rapport or handled a relationship with a client well.
Some of these inherent skills should also become clear throughout the course of the interview. Take note of speech and body language and any other indications that the candidate may have a natural ability to connect with others.
Assessing a candidate’s cultural fit
A poor cultural fit is one of the key reasons why an employee is either let go or decides to leave a company, however, many employers still place far too much weight on the candidate’s technical skills instead of considering how they will fit in with the organisational culture.
Judging a candidate’s suitability for the company can be difficult to measure from just a few hours’ worth of interviews, but by first assessing what the company’s culture looks like, a hiring manager can then look for similarities in the candidate. For example, if the culture is very social and fosters a friendly environment where colleagues are tight-knit, then it would be wise to get a sense of how the candidate works in that type of environment. If they express that they prefer to work in solitude or don’t like to participate in social activities then they might not be the best candidate, even if their resume suggests otherwise.
Another way of gauging a candidate’s fit is to introduce them to potential teammates to let them assess how they feel the candidate would integrate into the culture. If the team members do not feel as though the candidate would mesh with the existing rapport, then you may be able to avoid high turnover in the future.
Assessing a candidate’s career aspirations
Ascertaining a candidate’s career aspirations can also be a dead giveaway when finding the best person for the job.
If there is potential for growth but the candidate is looking for something short term, or conversely, the role is designed to be short term (such as maternity cover), but the candidate is seeking something that they can stay in for a number of years, then this should tell you that the role isn’t suitable for them.
To discover a candidate’s career aspirations, you should ask questions about the type of training and development and opportunities for career progression they are expecting from the role, their leaders, and the company. If their expectations are beyond what is available or they have not set realistic goals that would be available to them, then again, they may not be the best person for the job.
Typical questions to ask about goals and aspirations include, “where do you see yourself in five years’ time” and “what are your ultimate career goals?”