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Evaluating Candidates

Many companies find it useful to test employment candidates before making their decision. Once you have identified both the skills and the qualities necessary for a position in your company, you can establish testing procedures to help you identify those skills and qualities in your candidates.

When testing candidates, be sure to inform them of the absolute fairness and confidentiality of the process. They'll feel better knowing there are no ulterior motives operating in the background.

Skill Related Testing

Some positions require a candidate to have a minimum level of technical proficiency. If education and work experience are not sufficient indicators, you may wish to test your candidates yourself.

For example, it may be appropriate to administer a simple mathematical test to applicants for a cashier’s position, or to have a software developer take on a coding challenge.

If appropriate, use the space below to develop a testing program that will assess the technical skills of your employment candidates for each position necessary.

Personality Testing

We've already discussed the importance of hiring employees whose personal qualities are a natural fit for your company. The 3X3 hiring method is designed with this in mind. But, as an added measure, more and more companies are choosing to administer personality tests to their employment candidates as well.

Effective personality tests, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or the Big Five Inventory (BFI) are available from a variety of sources however they're not a substitute for common sense. The trick is to know exactly what you're looking for, and then ask questions that will help to reveal the answers. Personality tests can be used as indicators, but be careful not to rely on them too much. They can be strongly influenced by mood and environment.

For example, if integrity is important to you, you could ask questions such as:

“Do you think most people can be trusted?”

“Should an employee who takes minor supplies home for personal use be fired after only one offense?”

“If someone is undercharged in a restaurant, should he/she tell the waiter/waitress?”

Be aware, that personality tests are not always accurate. Test results for someone who has recently experienced a personal crisis, for example, may not accurately reflect that person’s normal disposition.


Use the space below to list some questions that will assess the personal qualities of your employment candidates.

Checking References

You can encourage a more honest dialogue with your candidates by asking permission to call their last three employers. Your candidate will likely warn you in advance of any negative references they are likely to receive from the group. One negative reference could simply be a personality conflict, but two or more could indicate a problem.

Keep the odds on your side; always check references, and only hire candidates with previous employers who can't say enough good things about them, and wish they could hire the candidate back. Treat neutral references as though they were negative because people rarely give bad references due to liability issues.

reference check

Matching the Candidate to Your Company

Beyond the basic necessities, your primary concern is how the candidate will fit into your organization. Find out what's important to him. What his goals are. What his values are. Try to discover who he really is. You’re looking for a person whose “Personal Mission” parallels your company’s. If it doesn’t, both of you will end up dissatisfied.

An effective hiring system can mean the difference between getting an employee who effectively contributes to your company’s strategic plan, and one who does little more than collect a pay-cheque.

When you consider the cost of recruiting, hiring, orienting and training new employees, the process is far too costly to go through simply because you hired the wrong person last time. Each time you hire someone new, re-evaluate your system and try to improve it. It might take a little extra time, but it will be worth it. There's nothing like working with the right staff.

Rejecting Candidates

Once you have made your choice, it's professional to let the others know. It’s important to treat all your candidates with this type of respect. After all, you never know where they might end up. Additionally, you may want to hire them in the future. This may not be possible, depending on the number of candidates, but do your best and at the very least, make sure you contact all of your top candidates.

fancy pen

Job Offer & Negotiations

When negotiating salaries, keep in mind the dollar value of the entire package, including bonuses and benefits. Income does not need to be limited to a monthly paycheque. These little extras often seem insignificant, but they can add up considerably. Remind prospects that certain benefits are not taxable for the employee and, as such, are sometimes more valuable than cash.

Try to identify your prospect’s financial expectations early on in the negotiation process. If you leave it too late, you risk wasting valuable time on a candidate you either cannot afford, or who misunderstands his value. Once he knows he's your primary candidate, he may raise the stakes; a scenario that could have you paying more for a new employee, and leaving less room for growth as he proves his value to your company. Review the compensation section of this book for help with this.

If your business operates as a meritocracy, let your prospect know. He may want more money up front than you are prepared to offer, but he may still be motivated to take on the job if he knows that his income will increase as his value to the company increases.

Your Hiring System

Your hiring system should identify the best candidate for the job, from the list of prospects collected by your recruiting system. In the end, the final decision may demand a certain amount of intuition, but the more you can automate the system, the more smoothly it will work.

Create your Hiring System.

Need some help establishing your hiring system? Get a free sample to help you get started.