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Background checks. Behavioral interview questions. Education and years’ experience requirements. These are all assessments and benchmarks that we use to gauge a candidate’s qualifications for a job. But how often do organizations actually test an applicant’s skills?

That’s one of the questions that Exaqueo Founder Susan Strayer LaMotte asked in a recent post titled “Four Talent Lessons From the NFL Draft.” It caused me to pause and consider how effective my interview process is at assessing a job seeker’s capabilities and likelihood to be a good cultural fit.

…I like to think of myself as a good interviewer. I’m personable and consistent. I make sure that I have a clear understanding of the job so that I can both explain its core functions to job applicants and ask them situational questions designed to get at how they would solve the sorts of problems that they’d be tasked with solving if they were in the role. I seek to understand what sort of work a candidate likes to do and how those interests mesh with the job they’re interviewing for. I am honest about the pros and cons of the culture and try to be very candid in answering any questions they have throughout the discussion.

But at the end of the day I am as susceptible as anyone to the charms of a really charismatic conversationalist. I’ve definitely advanced my share of candidates because they’ve nailed these items – items that project competence and affability but may or may not be predictive of success in a role. It isn’t that I’m not aware of the effect these biases can have on my decision making process – it’s just very difficult to completely eliminate them.

…With this in mind, I am inclined to think that a more rigorous assessment process (perhaps even an all-day team work with) might be a good idea where 1. With unskilled labor you can often even hire someone as a contractor and assess talent that way, but most people with an in-demand skill set aren’t going to go with that setup and so a day spent on the job may be the best course of action here.applicable. 1

What do you think? Should we be testing candidate’s skills before hiring them? In what ways? Google tests engineering candidate’s coding expertise, and of course in pockets at most companies various teams utilize aptitude tests. But how predictive of job success are they? And how do you test for cultural fit?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

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