10 March 2013
Your company has its own culture that you worked hard to develop, so it’s natural that you want to find the right individuals for any open positions. You’ve set out to find that perfect match and you’re close to the end—but then it narrows down to two. What is an employer to do when there is only one position, but two strongly qualified candidates to choose from? Give them homework! The only way to make a discerning decision is to get to know each candidate just a little bit more, and actions speak louder than words. Certain exercises can bring out the qualities an employer particularly looks for that might not have been highlighted during the interview process. Here’s how to delve a bit deeper into the hiring process when you’re stuck. Give them a “practice project.” Having your candidates complete a project similar to those they would receive on the job, or an old one that has already been satisfactorily completed, will give you an accurate measure of how well they will be able to handle their day-to-day duties if selected for the position. You can ask them to present the project as they would on any given workday; this also allows you to gauge their relevant industry knowledge, confidence, and other required skills that they may not have already demonstrated in the interview process. Give a time limit—or don’t. Giving a time limit on a project can help assess a potential hire’s punctuality and work ethic. Is he or she giving excuses as to why the work is late? Submitting it early, but riddled with errors? A good hire will take his or her time to complete the project but be sure have it in on time. If a project is going to be late, does the candidate let you know or let the clock tick without notice? Likewise, giving an open-ended project can be extremely telling of a person’s capabilities and personality. Ask your candidates when they would like to submit their work or to simply get it in when they can. This is a good test not only of punctuality, but of independence. Ask them to problem solve. Like giving a project, asking potential hires to brainstorm solutions to a problem and report back with their notes can be highly effectual. You don’t want clock-punchers; you want creative thinkers who are invested in making a difference in your company. By offering a hypothetical—or maybe even real—situation that needs attention and asking them to return with their suggestions, you can gauge their thought processes, investment, and interest in the company they hope to call home. And, subsequently, whether or not they intend to call that place home for long.