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Show and Tell: How This Grade School Exercise Improves Candidate Assessment

Posted on in Recruiting Strategy

“Walk me through your resume.”

This is a terrible interview question. For one, the next five people your candidate meets with will likely ask the same question. While there is value in listening to a 60 second overview of a candidate’s background, investing 30-60 minutes in someone walking you through their resume, line by line, is a poor use of everyone’s time.

This question alone is all too common and demonstrates that today’s approach to interviewing is broken. Why? Because no one asks the questions that require a candidate to go deep within their experience, to provide specific examples that are measurable, indicative of their skill set, and provide insight into their work style, purpose, critical thinking, and communication skills.

So, how do you efficiently and effectively make sure you confirm specific details about candidates that demonstrate they can meet the expectations of the job and perform successfully within your culture? Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten.

Almost everyone participated in a classic “show and tell” exercise in their early school years. It was a great way to learn about an object and observe a classmate’s ability to describe its purpose and meaning, teach us something we may not have known, and educate us on why it matters to them. It was easy to tell who achieved the goal of this exercise and who did not.

So how do you apply this in the real world? Short of asking someone to spend a week working for you as part of the interview process (which some companies do) the next best way to uncover if someone has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in your company is to put them through a job simulation. Here are a few examples:

  • If you are hiring for a recruiting role, consider having them write a job description or a LinkedIn InMail to a passive candidate. You could also have them evaluate several resumes and present their point of view, as well as pros and cons of the background for a specific role.
  • If you are hiring someone in a marketing role, one idea would be to provide the candidate with an article, blog post, or email template that has been used by your company and ask them how they would improve it.
  • If you are hiring a salesperson, you might provide them with a one-page document on a prospective client’s situation and ask them to develop a set of questions they would ask on the next sales call.

In all of these scenarios, you not only have the opportunity to see their work product, but also engage in a dialogue to understand how they make decisions, how they handle feedback, how strongly they are willing to defend their position, and even what some of their blind spots might be. Those data points will help you evaluate how they’d fit within your team and more broadly within your corporate culture.

The options you could deploy are endless. Take some time to brainstorm and develop an exercise you could pilot on your newest role. You’ll be glad you did.

Learn more about how to assess candidates throughout the talent acquisition lifecycle from our webinar: Nailing the Hiring Trifecta: Assessing A Candidate’s Skill, Attitude, and Cultural Fit. Sign up to watch a recording of the webinar.

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