Test Driving Candidates Before You Hire

Nov 06 2020

test driving a carGiving an offer letter to the wrong person is a costly mistake. We test drive cars before we buy them, so why not potential employees? The value of the test drive is immeasurable when it comes to making difficult decisions. If you’ve had trouble filling a certain role in the past, this might be the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for! Narrow down your applicant pool and then put your top candidates into a real-life scenario with your company. You’ll gain valuable insight from multiple angles that the brevity of a few interviews just can’t match.

True Statement: If you want to get to know someone, take a trip out of the country with them.

No, you can’t take potential candidates on a trip abroad, but a phone interview and a couple of in-person chats is hardly getting to know someone. People are on their best behavior during interviews and if you’re having trouble filling a job, you’re probably more likely to brush aside little things that may turn out to be red flags down the road.

So, what can you do instead? Put candidates to the test. Do they claim to be an excellent communicator or say they’re an expert in Adobe Creative Suite? How will they handle unexpected client issues that crop up? If you come to them with a problem at the end of the day, how will they react? Asking these kinds of questions during your interview process is a great start, but you’ll usually get the answers you want to hear.

Consider inviting candidates to do a job shadow with one of your top employees with the goal being to get their guard down. This is a great way to put them to the test before you commit. Do they ask smart questions? Do they complain about their current employer or use foul language in what they presume is a non-interview setting? If done well, a job shadow won’t feel like an interview and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. Do they problem solve in a way that you like to see? Do they take feedback well and then immediately apply it?

You’ll learn surprising things from your “test drive.” We often find that our initial front runners don’t always turn out to be the ones we hire. What looks great on paper isn’t always what works well in practice. People who demonstrate problem solving skills, effective communication, resiliency, enthusiasm, and positivity often outperform someone who ticks off the check marks on a job description.

Happy Hiring!


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