Interview tips: How to find the perfect job candidate

Interview tips: How to find the perfect job candidate

Finding the perfect job candidate is no easy feat. On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, four to six are typically called in for an interview. But only one can walk away with the job. Talk about finding a needle in a haystack. A few interview tips can help.

It takes a lot of resources to find a new hire. Recruiters advertise on job sites, wade through seemingly endless resumes, conduct interviews, run background checks, call references, and more.

When it’s all said and done, the average cost-per-hire comes out to $4,129, and the average time it takes to fill an open position is 42 days, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Human Capital Benchmarking Report.

But the costs don’t stop adding up there. Experts estimate the cost of onboarding an employee is about $240,000. That includes recruitment ads and staff time, relocation and training fees for replacement hires, the negative impact on team performance, the disruption to incomplete projects, and more.

Hiring the wrong person can put a sizable dent in your revenue. Making the right choice from the start is crucial. In this article, we offer some interview tips to help you find the perfect job candidate for your company’s open positions.

Key interview tips

Assess your needs

Finding the perfect candidate starts with knowing exactly who you’re looking for. Work experience, education, and skills are all important. But great employees don’t simply perform a job; they should solve a critical business need.

Before you begin your search, identify what need the candidate will fill. Also, determine how your company will measure success in the position, as well as what common attributes your top performers possess. Think about your company culture and what kind of individual will fit in.

Approach your selection process with all these things in mind and be sure to include them within the job description to attract the right people to the role. This is one of the more important interview tips we’ll cover.

Take your time

I know what you’re thinking, “time is money.” However, if you hire the wrong candidate, it’ll cost you much more in the long run. You may feel a sense of urgency from your superiors or a hiring manager to quickly fill an open slot, but explain to your colleagues the high cost of making the wrong decision.

Slow the process down and take the time to screen your applicants properly. You may catch some heat in the short term, but everyone in the organization will be singing your praises once you have a stellar new employee onboarded and providing value to the company.

Top talent will deliver a much better customer experience, which will result in higher customer retention rates.

Pre-screen candidates over the phone

Interviews take time. Especially if you plan on having candidates meet with several members of your team. Instead of wasting your resources and the candidates’ time, jump on a quick call first to see if it’s worth having a full-blown interview.

Use the phone call to flush out any deal breakers. Explain the job duties as well as your organization’s culture. Also, ask them a few details about their work experience and salary expectations. If, after a brief phone call, someone still seems like a good candidate, invite them to meet in person.

Find the right candidate for the role, and their work will speak for itself, increasing customer satisfaction and boosting customer loyalty.

Have the interviewee “show” instead of just “tell”

Interview questions are the standard way to get to know someone and assess their level of compatibility with your organization. But when it comes to evaluating skill level, a lot of people fake it till they make it.

To ensure that you hire someone that can do the job well, as opposed to just hiring someone good at interviewing, have them complete an assignment that demonstrates their skills.

For example, if you’re hiring a salesperson, have the candidate do a mock sales call. Have a developer refactor some code. Ask a writer to draft a blog post. You get the idea. By having a candidate perform a task, you’ll get a much better understanding of what they’re truly capable of.

Avoid cliche interview questions

Whatever you do, for the love of everything holy, don’t ask the interviewee, “Why did you leave your last job?” Or even worse, “What’s your greatest weakness?”

Let me save you the trouble. They left their last job because it sucked. Perhaps it didn’t pay enough. Maybe their manager was a jerk. Or they may have even gotten fired. But they’ll never admit any of these things to you. Instead, they’ll likely formulate a politically correct answer that couldn’t be further from the truth.

And let’s be real, no one in their right mind is going to tell you their greatest weakness. Why? Because if you really knew it, you’d probably use it against them. Instead, what you’ll get is a well-rehearsed answer that magically transforms their “weakness” into a strength.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss what kinds of questions you should ask in an interview to increase your chances of hiring the perfect candidate for the job.

Consider cultural fit

Someone could seem absolutely perfect on paper, but it’s just as important to ensure that they will fit well within the culture of your organization. If you are a group of visionaries that value cutting-edge ideas, you may not want to hire someone with a very conservative way of thinking.

Likewise, if your company has very traditional corporate values, a radical thinker may not be your cup of tea. At the same time, it’s also a bad idea to only hire people just like you. This is a surefire way to end up with a building full of like-minded people with no diversity.

To assess cultural fit, here are a few questions to ask:

  • Describe your ideal work environment or culture in which you would be the most productive and happy.
  • What are some characteristics of the best boss you’ve ever worked with?
  • Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
  • When you work with a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play on the team.
  • What motivates you to do your best work?

Look for candidates that speak passionately about the company’s mission. If doing good in the world is baked into the DNA of your organization, you’d be much better off hiring a candidate that has a documented history of giving back than someone who is merely looking for a job for financial reasons.

Listen to the candidate’s questions

At the end of the interview, you should ask the candidate if they have any questions. Pay close attention to what they ask as it can often offer more insight than the actual interview did. The questions asked can tell you whether or not the candidate researched your company before the interview and if they have a good understanding of your company, what you offer, and your company culture.

Think conversation, not interrogation

An interview is most effective as a conversation between two or more people. You want to get to know each person, not intimidate them. Make candidates feel comfortable, so they’ll relax and let their guard down.

If you’ve taken the time to read their resume, as opposed to just skimming it, you’ll be able to formulate some thoughtful questions about their background. After asking a question, give the candidate a moment for introspection, then listen carefully.

Don’t be too quick to fill gaps in the conversation. It is in these silent moments that the interviewee will often elaborate on their answers, offer additional examples or a different perspective on the question asked.

When a candidate sees that you aren’t simply going down a list of standard questions, they’ll feel more at ease, open up, and join the conversation.

Ask follow up questions

Don’t just settle for a candidate’s initial answer as they are often rehearsed. Ask why, how, or what questions. Why did they take that approach? How did they come to that decision? What did they learn from that situation?

The devil is in the details. Follow up questions allow you to get to the heart of each candidate.


Ultimately, you want a candidate that has a genuine desire to join your company because the company’s values are in alignment with their personal values. You also want someone whose skill set will help your organization to meet its business goals, as well as someone who will fit seamlessly into the company culture.

It’s hard to find, but when you do, you’ll end up with an employee that is more engaged, more productive and less likely to churn.

Which tip will you incorporate into your next round of interviews? Share it in the description box below!

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Greg Arthur

Greg Arthur has a deep understanding of marketing and sales and has been an advisor to software start-ups in the mobile and SaaS areas. Specialties: Digital Marketing, Building, and Growing companies, Marketing, Business Development, M&A.

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