From social media to resume faux pas, there are a lot of ways to tell a job candidate will be a poor fit for your company before they get an interview. But when it's interview time, how do you know that what you see is really what you'll get?
In a job market where -- according to Beyond's September 2014 survey of 4,000 job seekers and HR professionals -- three quarters of hiring managers feel the candidates they're dealing with are unqualified, it's important to understand key visual warning signs that may save you from making a bad hiring decision that could cost you thousands.
Whether your meeting in-person, using video interviewing software or meeting live online, here are five ways to make sure what a candidate shows you is really what you'll get:
1. Keep an eye on their eyes.
When you're interviewing a candidate live or watching a recorded video interview session, a candidate's eyes can give you all the information you need. Is the candidate looking into the camera, or are their eyes constantly looking off screen? If they're constantly looking to the same spot off-screen, they could be reading from prepared notes.
The same goes for an in-person interview. If a candidate is constantly looking at notes before answering questions, they may be giving you prepared responses. If the candidate's eyes are wandering around the room instead of focused on you, he or she may be "searching" for the answers they think you want to hear.
Solid eye contact shows a candidate is confident in their abilities and feels comfortable with their answers. Watch your interviewees eyes to make sure you're hiring candidates who know what they're doing and how to communicate professionally.
2. Keep the other eye on their facial expressions.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then an interviewee's facial expressions are the map to their interests. As you ask questions and explain the different roles of the position, keep an eye on the candidate's facial expressions.
Do they look engaged? Did they wince at a particular role description? Are they forcing a smile when they think you want one?
Be aware of these facial cues. A candidate may be a great fit for the position, but if he or she isn't genuinely interested in every aspect of the position, you may end up with a disengaged, unproductive employee.
3. Meet in a comfortable place.
The traditional "desk-separated Q&A" interview can cause even the best candidates to feel a little uncomfortable, and that means their walls will be up. Consider moving the interview to a coffee shop or bookstore to see how the candidate interacts with you in a more relaxed setting. If your organization uses video interviewing, encourage the candidate to log on from an area where they feel comfortable to ease their nerves.
When you make an effort to ensure that the candidate is more comfortable during an interview, you increase the likelihood that you'll see the candidate's real personality come out.
4. Look at how they are dressed.
Even if you decide to take the interview to a more comfortable location, you should always be looking for candidates who dress professionally. Depending on the industry you're in and the culture of your organization, this can mean different things. But a candidate who appears disheveled or sloppy says a lot about how serious they are about the position.
Whether you're meeting in-person or online, make sure that the candidates you move to the next stage of the hiring process understand how to dress appropriately for the situations they're in.
5. Call their references after the interview...that's why you asked for them, right?
You've got three candidates in mind with very similar education and experience. All three were professional, engaged, and interested during their interviews. How do you know which one will be the best new hire? Call their references.
In a 2012 CareerBuilder survey nearly three in ten employers reported finding fake references on a job application. That's one easy way to eliminate a candidate. When you do reach a reference, be sure to discuss the candidate's work history, strengths and weaknesses, but don't forget about personality. In most cases, a candidate's references can give you great insight into whether or not you have the right read on a candidate.
Determining whether or not what you see with a candidate is what you'll get can make the difference between a good, productive hire and a hire that will cost you. Next time you interview a candidate, watch for these visual warning signs to make sure you don't choose the wrong person.
What visual cues do you look for during an interview? How do you determine a candidate is being genuine with you?
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