The Super Effective Interview Technique You’re Overlooking

April 23, 2018

The traditional interview has always been the go-to staple for hiring. And recently, we surveyed over 9,000 talent leaders and hiring managers across the globe and asked them which interview methods they find most effective. Here’s what they said:

While these results aren’t shocking, what did surprise us is how underutilized work assignments are. Only 32% of respondents use this technique, even though 84% say it is effective.

Work assignments are essentially a small project that a candidate completes in their own time or during the interview. They’re affective because they can give you a firsthand glimpse of how a candidate works—including their creativity, speed, work ethic, and communication skills. The best assignments are closely related to the type of work the job will involve, giving both you and the candidate a good idea of whether or not they are a fit.

If you’re not sure how to start using work assignments, we’ve put together three examples to give you a little inspiration.

Example 1: Have a marketer or writer create a relevant piece of content 

Let’s say you’re looking for a content creator. Asking these candidates to write a short article about a given topic (say, a recent trend sweeping the industry) or outline in detail how they would run a marketing campaign for a product or service is a great way to assess how capable they are.

For a written assignment, if you have a house style, ask the candidate to follow it to gauge their attention to detail. You can apply this type of assignment beyond traditional content related roles, since writing tasks are useful evaluation tools for most jobs that require exceptional communication skills. You can also use them to test a candidate’s understanding of your industry and ability to think and write strategically about a topic.

That’s not to say they’re a go-to for any job (you probably wouldn’t learn much by assessing a software engineer this way). But in the right circumstances, this kind of work assignment is easy to organize and super revealing.

Example 2: Ask a salesperson to give a presentation or “sell” something to you

In order to make a sale, a salesperson has to be able to hold people’s attention and get them interested in whatever they are selling. So, what better way to test a salesperson’s skills than by having them sell something too you.

You can ask them to choose a product or issue and present it to you. Or, you could even have them sell your company’s product. For example, John Dano, who has been a sales manager and motivational sales speaker for the past 11 years, gives sales candidates a 55 minute test. He starts by giving them background on the company, cold calling scripts and rebuttals, and an outline of our testing process so they know what to expect. Next, he has them do mock cold calls, followed by real cold calls and later a spontaneous communication challenge.

Dano gives them feedback throughout the process and looks for candidates who can be coached and learn quickly. You can read more about this process in his post: A Really Tough Screening Process That No Salesperson Can Bluff.

Example 3: Give a software engineer or other technical candidate a problem to solve

For technical candidates, one simple and engaging way to evaluate their skills is to give them a relevant problem to solve. If you can pull a real-life example that your company has faced, this assignment can show whether a candidate would make a great addition to your team.

For example, you can provide a software engineer candidate with a coding issue to solve and give them a limited set of instructions—enough to guide them while also testing how well they problem-solve on their own. If you’re able to give them access to your own source code repository, they’ll get a real feel for the work your coders do on a daily basis.

The assignment shouldn’t take too long for the candidate to complete—they’re not going to solve all your company’s coding woes overnight. The goal is to have them produce some clean, practical code that clearly demonstrates their skills. And if you choose to bring them in for an onsite interview afterward, you’ve got a handy jumping-off point for your discussion.

Embrace work assignments to make your interview process more effective

Work assignments are an often-overlooked and incredibly effective method of assessing a candidate’s skills that you can start using straight away.

To get the most from them, make sure you respect the candidate’s time, communicate clearly with them about what you’re asking for, and provide feedback to help them learn from the experience, regardless of the outcome. The results: an interview process that offers candidates the opportunity to showcase their skills in a way that a static resume and Q&A-style interview simply doesn’t. Plus, it helps them self-assess how much they’ll enjoy the work.

For more insights into the trends shaping the way you hire, download LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2018 report today.

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