How To Identify The Perfect Candidate Through The Interview Process

4 min

Finding the perfect candidate for a role is not always black and white. Taking steps to identify the perfect candidate before, during and after an interview is really important to save you time and effort in the long term.

For example a candidate who, on paper, might have all the skills and accomplishments needed for the role might not be the ideal culture fit. The candidate’s values might not align with the business. Sometimes the best candidates on paper aren’t best for your business.

Some of these signs can be difficult to identify in the interview process, so following the below steps will help you in finding the perfect candidate to avoid disappointment.

Before The Interview

To fill a vacancy, you will first need to shortlist the potential talent for the role before progressing them to the interview stage.

A great way of identify candidates that are interested in and relevant for the role, is create a dedicated shortlist purely based on the skills of the candidates. Once this shortlist has been created, it is the perfect opportunity to speak with the candidates about the role and whittle through the people that aren’t fully engaged with the role or likely to accept an offer. You will find that quite a lot of candidates will speculatively apply for a wide range of vacancies and they haven’t always read the job description fully. It is also important if you are advertising the role on job boards that you pay careful attention to the copy within your job description. The copy for a start-up or marketing agency role should be significantly different to a large corporate bank for example.

Another scenario is when the vacancy has been advertised as a blind role (meaning that the company doesn’t want to disclose their name or details). Having a confidential conversation with the candidates will allow you to describe the type of working culture that the business has.

Aside from advertising, pro-actively headhunting quality talent that you know have been working within a similar space means a good culture fit is more likely.

During The Interview

As an interviewer you need to ask the right questions so that you can gain the information that you need to make the most informed decision about who the perfect candidate is. Going into the interview, understand what you want to get out of it and define how your ideal candidate would approach certain situations or tasks.

Plan your questions for the interview and score each candidate on their responses. Highlight any responses that would be a strong fit for the role.

So, what are good questions to ask? Try to think in a non-linear way; don’t just think about what the ‘right answer’ would be, ask open questions that allow the candidates to expand on and draw from their experience.

Closed questions (i.e. a yes or no answer) don’t give you enough detail about the candidate. Instead think about what you want to gain from a question, for example ask why they are looking for a new role? (for candidates that have directly applied for the vacancy). This gives you an opportunity to understand if the candidates has had difficulties at their current work place and if those issues could arise in the new role. If you hire a candidate who is unhappy and leaves the business after a short period, you will have to start the process all over again without them having added any value.

Understanding the details of the candidate, their current position and goals for the future will give you greater insight, which will help you decide who is the perfect candidate.

Aside from asking these key questions, another way to identify the perfect candidate is through getting them to solve a business problem or complete a small project that directly relates to the role you are recruiting for. This way, you can gain greater insight into the competency of the candidate and their ability to carry out the role; by providing a real life example, you are separating those who look good on paper to those who have the skills to do the role.

In most cases the perfect candidate is not just someone who has the skills and experience but also has the personality to fit the business culturally.

After The Interview

Touching on the subject of cultural fit again, a great way to assess a candidate’s fit in the company is through taking them out of the structured interview zone and assessing them in a more relaxed environment such as a team social. At this point the candidate hasn’t officially been offered the job but will feel like they have.

The advantage of this is that typically the candidate is more relaxed and isn’t trying to give a perfect answer to every question, instead they act as themselves and as a result you are able to see how they would fit into the team and the business.

Identifying the perfect candidate isn’t a simple tick box exercise, anyone recruiting for a role must pay attention to all the details of the candidate, the role and the company they’re joining. As a specialist executive recruiter CSG are focused on placing the right candidate for our clients’ roles which doesn’t always mean the best candidate on paper.

Does your business have a hard to fill role or are still looking for the perfect candidate, CSG’s recruiters specialise in senior level vacancies across a range of sectors on a global scale; with a vast network and extensive experience we have a proven track record in placing the best talent.