5 Creative Ways to Assess a Candidate in a Job Interview

5 Creative Ways to Assess a Candidate in a Job Interview

Got dozens of interviews to conduct?


Let’s face it, the interview process can be very boring at times, especially when the candidates’ answers all sound the same.

How many of these cliché interview questions are you asking?

  • What’s your biggest weakness?
  • What would you say was your biggest failure?
  • What would you say has been your biggest achievement?
  • How do you think your employees would describe you?

If you usually ask at least one of these, you may want to reconsider how you assess candidates. Not only do these basic questions reveal very little relevant information about a person, but they are extremely boring for both parties.

Instead, try jazzing up your interview process by using these top tactics.

Ask the candidate to say what they’d change about your company

The idea of a job interview is to get to know the candidate and learn about their expertise. However, trying to get them to reveal all of the important bits isn’t easy.

By asking them to give recommendations on how your business can improve its customer service, website or other elements, you’ll be testing their industry knowledge.

If the candidate gives a well-educated answer, this will give you a clear indication that they know what they are talking about.

It usually takes a candidate out of their comfort zone too, so they don’t get stuck giving the same robotic answers all the time.

Who knows, they may even come up with a super idea you can implement!

Ask the candidate to review something bad your business has done

Similar to the previous question, this will test a candidate’s ability to turn a negative into a positive. The reality is, every business has made a mistake at some point.

This challenge will assess how much research the candidate has done on your business and give you an honest, unbiased opinion on the matter.

The ideal answer is if a candidate states a mistake, but offers ways they would have dealt with it differently.

Alternatively, if you’re open to a light-hearted response, a candidate who replies with the answer “not hiring me before” is a top cheeky answer.

Watch the candidate before the interview

This may sound extremely creepy, but you can tell a lot by someone when they’re not in the interview environment.

There are a number of ways you can observe a candidate’s behaviours:

  1. Watch them on CCTV.
  2. Use the receptionist as a spy and get them to give you their feedback on what they’ve observed.
  3. Find a sneaky place to watch them.  

You should see how they interact with employees. Do they exchange pleasantries? Do they look nervous? Are they friendly?

Once you get to grips with how they act while they’re waiting to be interviewed, you’ll be able to establish whether the personality they bring to the interview is authentic or not.

Score candidates

One of the most effective ways to assess a candidate is to measure them using a scoring system. After all, today’s world revolves around data.

Give each candidate points for different relevant attributes or key skills that they highlight during the interview.

For instance, do they keep up with current industry developments? If so, what publications and websites do they read? Have they written expert content or participated in social media conversations about particular topics in your industry?

While the interview process should be focused on a candidate’s skills and experience, it’s also important to measure their enthusiasm, work ethic and their behaviours as they will be representing your business.

Use relevant brain teasers

Critical thinking interview questions like brain teasers can be very hit and miss. The secret to success is to choose an example which has some kind of relevance to the position you’re trying to fill.

For example, if you are looking to find a candidate who demonstrates high attention to detail, you may want to ask:

Tracy’s mum has 4 children. The first child was named April, the second was named May, the third June. What was the 4th child called?

In case you were wondering, the answer is Tracy!

The point is, this particular question tests how well a candidate is listening and pays attention. In contrast, if you were looking for someone who is good with numbers, asking a brain teaser which requires a high level of maths would be a better option.

You can find more examples of these brain teaser questions in our previous blog.

Final thoughts

The main thing to think about when assessing candidates in an interview is to make it different. Remember, your business is being judged too, so you need to make it sound like a forward-thinking and exciting place to work.

Be creative and challenge your candidates. Some of them may feel overwhelmed, but there’s also a high probability that others will flourish and make your hiring decision 100x easier.

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