Deciphering Skills: A Guide to Assessing Talent in Interviews

People can say anything they want during an interview. But how can you turn that into a genuine assessment of their skills? As it turns out, there are several proactive steps you can take to develop a comprehensive understanding of a candidate’s abilities. Here is what you need to do.

Ask Targeted Questions

The first step is to ask specific, highly targeted questions during the interview. For example, you might briefly describe an issue that commonly arises in the workplace. Then, ask the candidate what specific steps they would take to fix it. Or you might ask them for some details about how they have used a skill that is listed on their resume.

Conduct Practical Skills Testing

One of the best ways to test a candidate’s level of competence with specific skills is through practical assessments. Before the interview, you might place all the pieces for a work-related puzzle on the table. After the first part of the interview, ask the candidate to solve the puzzle. Then, talk about how they solved it. Or you could take the person onto the manufacturing floor and ask them to fix a machine that you intentionally tampered with ahead of the interview.

Consider a Paid Trial

Maybe you’re down to a handful of final contenders, but you’re just not sure who would be the best fit. You could ask all of them to work for a few hours or a few days, fully paid, on a trial basis. This can be especially helpful for highly technical positions, or ones in which fitting in with the existing team is crucial.

Don’t Forget About Soft Skills

Soft skills are what make projects run more smoothly, such as problem-solving and organization. Cognitive aptitude tests and personality assessments can help you measure these skills. Just be sure to look for tests that are designed to reduce bias, as some assessments are only fully validated for specific groups of people.

Trying to figure out exactly which skills a candidate has and how proficient they are with those skills can be a real challenge. Asking targeted questions and giving assessments can help you more accurately predict how a candidate will perform in a real-world scenario.

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