How to Assess Candidates After the Interview

As a hiring manager or business owner, you know that a company’s success depends heavily upon the quality of its employees. Yet 44% of HR teams say talent acquisition is their greatest struggle, and 48% specifically indicate that attracting the right candidates has recently become a challenge.

Understanding how to assess a candidate after an interview is one of the biggest factors in whether you are able to hire the right person for the job.

Find out what you need to know before you start the selection process, and get tips for avoiding common pitfalls and picking well-qualified candidates who can help you fulfill your strategic mission.

Free Download: Interview Scorecard

Keep your interview process running smoothly with BambooHR’s customizable scorecard. You’ll be able to prepare interview questions, document candidates’ responses, and keep multiple interviewers on the same page.

Download the Interview Scorecard

Comparing Candidates: 6 Factors to Consider

You should select candidates based on your specific business needs and goals. However, you may have even more success if you also weigh common criteria and factors to compare candidates fairly.

Role Criteria

The first thing you need to assess is whether a candidate fits the criteria you’ve set out for the role. This includes all experience or skill requirements in the job description. Some candidates may fit only some of the listed criteria, while others may have all preferred qualifications.

Even among candidates with the same qualifications, some may have more relevant or specialized experience that you believe can help your company get to the next level.

Panel Feedback

If more than one person has interviewed the candidate (either in a group setting or in multiple interviews), it’s important to get feedback from everyone. A candidate may have been nervous in earlier interviews but gained confidence as they approached the final round.

Different interviewers will likely have varying impressions, so it’s important to get everyone’s perspectives to help you perform a candidate assessment from all angles.

Skill Gap Analysis

Knowing what skills a candidate lacks is just as important as understanding the skills they possess. If certain skills don’t appear on a candidate’s resume, it may mean that they’ll need additional training in that area to be the best fit for the position.

Keep in mind that some candidates may have transferable skills. For example, an educator who is accustomed to managing large groups of students might be an excellent volunteer coordinator for a nonprofit.

Hard and Soft Skills

Some jobs require highly technical skills, such as computer programming or accounting, while others lean more heavily on soft skills, like communication and teamwork. In some cases, you may hire a person for their amazing soft skills and decide to train them on hard skills.

Only you and your team will know how to balance a candidate’s skill levels with your current needs. Successfully hiring the right candidate means knowing your needs and goals and choosing the candidate with a skill set that best aligns.

Candidate Scores

Rating or scoring candidates on a standard set of criteria is a great way to keep your evaluation process as objective as possible. Before you start the hiring process, sit with your team and develop a rubric and scoring criteria for each application and interview.

You may decide to set a threshold and consider only candidates who achieve a certain rating. If your company uses multiple interviewers, you may decide to average their scores or come up with one “super score” based on everyone’s feedback.

Cultural Fit

In some cases, a candidate can look great on paper but just not have a disposition, demeanor, or values that align with your company. Even if a candidate has all of your preferred skills, it’s important that they fit in with your company culture if they’re going to be successful and have longevity.

Decide what makes a candidate the right cultural fit for your company, and make notes about that during the interview so you can review them later.

Just make sure to be intentional and open-minded. Don't rely on assumptions that are susceptible to unconscious bias. Instead, recognize that candidates can come from a wide variety of backgrounds, communications styles, and personalities while still contributing to your organization's overall culture.

Get the Definitive Guide to Company Culture

Want a vibrant workplace that supports employees and helps your organization achieve its goals? Our guide offers a step-by-step plan for leveling up your company culture.

Download Your Free Copy

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Comparing Candidates

The process of comparing candidates comes with a lot of potential pitfalls. Give your team the best chance of making the right choice by avoiding these common mistakes.

Not Paying Close Attention to Interview Performance

A candidate’s interview performance can tell you a lot about their soft skills and the type of employee they’ll likely be. When interviewing a candidate, observe their comprehension and communication skills as they provide relevant answers to your questions.

Listen for examples of great teamwork and empathy. Look for evidence of passion and a willingness to admit and learn from shortcomings. You can’t see these things in a resume, but they become much clearer in person.

Not Aligning Assessment Criteria With Job Qualifications

Make sure you are comparing candidates to the job description before you compare them to each other. Your interview assessment and selection criteria should be based on your needs as outlined in the advertised list of job qualifications. Otherwise, your selection is likely to be based more on personal opinion, which can lead to hiring candidates who are less than qualified for the position.

Lacking a Concrete Process for Assessment

Your post-interview assessment should follow a concrete process that has been vetted and agreed upon by the entire hiring team. For example, you may look at resumes, conduct several rounds of interviews, administer skills and personality assessments, have an interview debrief with your team, and contact references.

Having a process that’s the same for everyone eliminates the possibility of evaluating candidates based on different criteria, which can skew your perspective.

Making Biased Hiring Decisions

Bias in your hiring process can prevent you from objectively evaluating candidates—and it could lead you to engage in prohibited employment practices regulated by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In addition to asking and looking for a standard set of interview questions and answers, consider using an assessment rubric or scorecard to rank candidates.

Additionally, you could use an interview panel or involve multiple interviewers. Seeing things from more than one perspective can help you make an unbiased decision.

Finally, consider unconscious bias training to help yourself and your team become aware of your own potential biases so you can tackle them.

Not Balancing Skills and Cultural Fit

Candidates need both technical skills and cultural fit to be successful in their jobs. Leaning too heavily in one direction or the other will likely result in unsatisfied employees. Balancing both criteria can reduce turnover and prevent wasted resources.

Neglecting Post-Interview Communication

You can learn much more than you think from a candidate’s post-interview communication. Following up after an interview to say “thank you” or to check the status of their application can show gratitude, passion, and enthusiasm about the position. These are all desirable traits for qualified candidates.

Closing the Door on Candidates Who May Fit Future Roles

Ensure that you communicate with enthusiasm, optimism, professionalism, and empathy when rejecting a candidate. This can help you build bridges with those who may be potentially qualified for an alternate or future role. In turn, you’ll fill your talent pipeline with candidates who like your employer brand and have what it takes to succeed at your company.

Intentional Hiring Processes Help You Make the Right Choice

Evaluating candidates after an interview isn’t easy, especially if you have several similarly qualified individuals who you believe would be a great fit. However, taking the time to carefully weigh critical factors and develop a standard analysis process can make the process much clearer.

Approach each candidate evaluation with your needs and goals in mind. Always remain aware of your biases and strive to avoid them so you can act in the best interests of the company and stay away from employment practices that are against EEOC policies. Whether you select a candidate or not, seek to build bridges and create connections—this work is likely to pay off in the future as you try to attract top talent in the midst of stiff competition.

Create a Seamless Hiring Experience from Application to Offer Letter

BambooHR helps you manage and personalize every candidate’s experience. Plus, our Hiring Mobile App helps busy recruiting teams collaborate together and keep top candidates engaged.

Get a Free Demo Today