Psychological Tricks and Tips To Hire The Right Candidate

Hire The Right Candidate
Hire The Right Candidate

The first thing that needs to be mentioned in the course of this article is that the hiring process is a complex sequence of steps taken not only by the human resources department but the whole management team of the company in general. This means that it is not limited to the actions of a single person and has much more depth to it than simply evaluating a couple of dozens of applicants’ curricular vitae and picking the one that seems to be ticking the most boxes.

The process is extremely responsible, hence rather complicated and requires a lot of effort. If you genuinely want to find and hire the right candidate, you need to conduct a lot of preliminary research and be prepared to talk to a lot of people before you find the person suitable for the position. However, there are several psychological tips and tricks aimed at easing the process and speeding it up.

If you arrange the hiring process appropriately and incorporate all of the tricks and tips below into it, you will be able to be more successful at hiring the right candidate!

Shift Your Job Ads’ Focus to Job Satisfaction and Work on Your Job Description

As it has already been mentioned in this article, the hiring process is composed of different steps, and all of them are equally important in recruiting the best possible candidate. However, every major process needs to have a starting point, a solid foundation that would determine the success of it in the future.

In the case of hiring the right candidate, this first step traces back way beyond the interviewing process and right to the point of designing an appropriate job advertisement to post on the platforms for job search.

Nowadays, the process of establishing a working connection is significantly easier for both employers and their prospective employees. Long gone are the days of having to ask around for vacant job positions and relying on the people you know for referring to a job you could possibly take. In the modern realities, people who are looking for a job can simply create an account on one of the various platforms dedicated to it and skim through thousands and thousands of adverts available to them. This presents candidates with a whole lot of options and increases their chances of getting a job.

On the other hand, however, this could potentially pose a problem to the people looking to hire. The reason for this is the fact that often recruitment websites are based on the principle of no commitment and do not require the prospective candidates to stick to a limited number of applications they can send out. This leads to a situation where people seeking a job are mass-sending their CVs to different companies in hope of hearing back at least from some of the places they have applied to. Usually, this is exactly what happens — these people match one of the company’s criteria and get invited to an interview. The problem with such an approach is the fact that those people are often not a hundred percent committed to the job they are being subsequently interviewed for. Instead, they treat it just like one of the options they can pursue.

Such an attitude can be overwhelming and to some extent discouraging even for the most experienced HR managers. While a small portion of half-hearted applications will most likely not leave the recruiter phased, a consistent stream of such applicants may affect the benchmarking process and result in an eventual lowering of the bar. After all, once you have gone through a lot of people who are clearly inept for the job you are looking to hire for and do not exactly meet the requirements you want your perfect employee to meet when you finally come across someone who is slightly above the average, you will think that they are the best fit for your business. Often this happens at the expense of the original idea of the most suitable employee that recruiters have in mind when they first start their search.

Unfortunately, if you post your job advertisements on social media or one or many of the aforementioned websites for job search, it is essentially impossible to completely avoid those people submitting their applications just for the sake of doing it. However, you can use psychology and a couple of tricks that will significantly improve the quality of the responses you get to your ads.

Be Specific

The first thing that can be done in this case is defining the job description. You need to make it less vague and clearly state the skills, both professional and personal, that you are looking for in your perfect candidate. Be precise in your requirements but also make them attainable. Stating the required previous experience could potentially weed out those people who do not have enough experience and will attract those who do. Aligning your job description with the skills sought after will draw in the candidates that possess the skills in the question. At the same time, if you fail to match your job description accurately, you could end up losing the right candidate simply because they do not see themselves suitable for the position. Hence, it is important that you work on getting your requirements right and straight to the point. Remember, people tend to interpret everything they see through the prism of their own personality and experience, which means ‘a great team worker’ could mean thousands of different things to different people. On the other hand, if you specify that you are looking for someone who could ‘spend 3-5 hours a day conducting meetings with colleagues from other countries’ you would provide the candidates interested in working for you with a much better understanding of whether they are the right fit for your company or not. When designing a job description, try to eradicate as much ambiguity as possible.

Moreover, if you ask for a specific set of qualities your ideal employee should have, candidates will see you as a responsible serious company and refrain from applying if they believe they are not good enough for a structured organization like yours. However, if you make your requirements too unrealistic, you might end up receiving very little to none applications.

On top of that, a good way of making sure that the person submitting a job application to you is genuinely interested in the position and is not simply mass-applying to all the positions listed on the platform is including some specific requirements into your job description. Your goal is to reach out to those candidates showing real interest in your company, so you can expect them to at least pay close attention to your job advertisement. To ‘test’ that, you may ask them a question to answer at the end of the ad to see if they even read it through.

Use Job Satisfaction as Your Prime Factor

Another important thing that is closely associated with psychology when it comes to hiring better employees is the shifting likes and interests of people looking for a job. Over the last decade, job satisfaction, in particular, has become the central point of attraction to the best workers regardless of the industries they work in.

Therefore, if you are interested in recruiting the top performers, you should focus on making job satisfaction the main attraction of your job ads. They need to be compelling and clearly highlight the position that you are able to offer in exchange for the excellent skills of a true professional. According to Lou Adler, ‘Job satisfaction is the primary driver behind how and why people look for new opportunities’.

This means, in the job ads you need to attend to that fact and sell your company to the top-performing candidates as the best option possible.

A good way of tackling this would also be searching for new employees through your already existing employees. If you expand your referral program, you could find some real gems among the people that your employees know. In this case, you need to focus on ensuring job satisfaction so that the satisfied employees referred to you.

At last, once you have met your ideal candidate and want to convince them to sign a contract with your company instead of choosing your competitors over you, it is essential that you make them interested in your offer. In order to do that, drive the conversation away from money to job satisfaction as soon as you can and focus on the latter.

Step Away from Resumes

This trick is often met with a great deal of controversy and there is a good reason for it. Traditionally, resumes are considered to be the most effective tool for short-listing the candidates for the second step of the hiring process, the interview. Indeed, a lot of companies willing to hire are using resumes as a measure of the candidate’s professionalism and for assessing their skills.

However, if you are interested in attracting the best candidates for your company, resumes might be somewhat redundant. Here is why…

When there is a demand for a service, a market inevitably emerges. So as you can imagine there is a market for virtually anything, including resumes. Nowadays, resume ghost-writing is a business of its own, and a pretty successful one. This means the quality of the resumes is becoming less of a deciding factor in making judgments about a particular candidate. The reason for this is the wide-spread application coaches. There are a lot of trained people out there who know everything about the application process and have perfected the art of designing the perfect resume. They know everything the employers want to see and adapt the resumes of their clients accordingly.

As an employer, you could have two candidates for the same position. One of them, Candidate #1 is a professional in the field and is well-qualified for the job you are hiring for. Their previous experience is laid out in their resume, and their qualifications are reflected on the pages of their cover letter. It sounds like a good match! However, you also have Candidate #2, and their resume really stands out among the rest. Their skills are varied and the working history seems immaculate. Moreover, it is also designed in such a way it catches the eye of an HR manager. The only catch is that Candidate #2 actually paid someone else to brush up their resume and, in fact, is lacking qualifications for the aforementioned position. Everything they have mentioned in their CV is a glorified version of the truth, and in reality, they are far from being the right candidate for you. However, just because their resume is so great, you will choose them over Candidate #1 who is objectively a better fit for you.

You cannot possibly know whether a resume you received was ghost-written or not as well as you cannot guarantee that everything mentioned on there is accurate. Therefore, it would be better to introduce alternative ways of assessing candidates. For instance, you could ask them for a portfolio or ask to send through a letter with answers to a couple of key questions that would reflect on their character and show who they are. While those, too, could be ghost-written, the risk of that is significantly smaller.

Think Through the Interviewing Process and Design an Appropriate Set of Questions

Once you have short-listed several candidates to invite to an eye-to-eye interview, you might want to start thinking about developing a plan for the latter. Direct communication with your candidates is exactly where psychology comes in handy and can be used the most.

Avoid Falling into the Interview Pitfalls by Diversifying Your Usual Questions

First of all, in addition to the previous point that touched on the subject of job application coaches, it will be fair to say that those have a role much more major than simply helping with the resume. In fact, a lot of coaches work through the questions recruiters are likely to ask at the interviews and compose a set of polished off replies that would ‘secure the position’.

If you want to make sure that the candidates you are interviewing are being genuine, dismiss the traditional questions that were predictable. Instead, diversify your usual array of questions with some extra-ordinary requests that would show you the true personality of the person you are interviewing. Try to strike your candidates with questions that they have not rehearsed in advance, so they act naturally, the same way they would be reacting in real life. After all, you do not have to necessarily use the ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ question to see whether your candidate is ambitious or not. Instead, you could ask them adjacent questions that would help you to get an even more coherent and comprehensive picture.

A great way of testing your candidates’ interpersonal skills is by asking them questions based on associations. For instance, why not question what animal they associate themselves with. What might sound like a silly question at first is actually quite insightful? Different animals are associated with different personality traits, so you could see what the person thinks their character is like.

On top of that, it is advised that you structure your interview in the form of a conversation as opposed to an interrogation. If you have a little bit of a casual small talk and give your candidate a chance to relax first, you will end up getting to know them better. Perhaps, include some anecdotes from your work life to make them less stiff and show them that you are a real person, too. That way they will be more trusting toward you and be more likely to perform true to their real abilities.

Do not neglect using some psychological tools in the assessment of your candidates’ suitability for the job. While asking them questions is, indeed, effective in getting to know what kind of people they are, if you want to ensure they are aligned with the company’s vision and ethics, you will have to test out their emotional intelligence and core values. This is where various psychological tests find an application.

Furthermore, you could also incorporate behavioral tasks into the interview. Instead of asking whether your candidate really works well under pressure, construct a situation for them where they would be faced with a lot of pressure and ask them about the actions they would take in order to resolve the problem.

Study Your Candidates’ Personas Beforehand

People tend to show their true selves better if they receive the recognition they believe they deserve. While you might be unfamiliar with your candidates at first, you can definitely create a friendlier atmosphere at the interview by studying their profile first.

It is great to show genuine interest in the person you are interviewing, and the easiest way of doing that is by knowing some information about the person you are talking to. After all, it is not only the candidates that need to come prepared to the meeting.

Take Advantage of the Social Media World

Some questions, however, are too personal or too uncomfortable to ask at the interview. However, this is where social media emerges.

While this is not exactly a crucial part of any interview, you as a recruiter can look up your candidates online to see whether they are genuinely the people they say they are. Often, their posts and pictures they publish on the internet can tell you more than the person themselves.

Strive to Avoid Cognitive Bias When It Comes to Making a Decision

The human brain is an extremely intricate thing and scientists are still not entirely sure about how it works. What is known, however, is that because of the ways in which our brains work, we are subjected to a number of different types of cognitive bias.

The most common types of bias that are intrinsic to recruiters include the following:

  • Anchoring bias (being too reliant on the information that was received first);
  • Primacy and recency effects (you tend to remember the first and last candidates that you looked into better than the rest of them);
  • Confirmation bias (it is normal for people to look for information that supports our existing beliefs);
  • Salience bias (you tend to use available characteristics to judge a person or a situation).

As you can see, there is a whole array of different factors that can prevent you from making an unbiased decision and hire the right candidate. Therefore, you need to do everything possible to minimize the aforementioned effects and choose the person objectively.

Some of the best ways to tackle this problem would be by asking someone else to assist you in the hiring process so you could compare and contrast your opinions on the candidates.

On top of that, it is also useful to record your thoughts straight after the interview in order for them to be fresh and unaffected by the subsequent interviews. After that, you can go back and see those notes again.

Reach Out to the Previous Employers of the Candidate

If you have several candidates for the same position and cannot decide on who would make a better employee, you need to take all the factors into consideration. One of these factors is the relationship your prospective employees had with their previous employers.

While on a number of occasions it can be difficult to get a hold of the true reason why someone left their previous place of work, especially if they were not fired but left voluntarily, you can still get plenty of information about the working relationship that your employee had with their former recruiter.

In order to do that, you need to reach out to the person referenced by your candidate and ask them about the person. The only important thing, however, is how you do that. People tend to attend to your needs if you explain to them why it is important to you and give some reasoning to your actions. That way, if you explain that ‘you are looking for a very responsible candidate because of how intricate and difficult the job is’, you will more likely get a true assessment of the candidate than if you simply asked to give one.

Moreover, it is best if you contact the previous employer of your candidate via phone as opposed to via email. The reason for this is that the tone with which they will be talking about your candidate can speak volumes and give you a clearer understanding of the true situation.

Change the Environment to Get to Know Your Potential Employees Better

At last but definitely not at least, you can also learn a lot about the candidate you are seeking to hire by watching them in a different situation. While interviews and testing can provide you with the basic information, you need to spend more time getting to know the person you are interested in, especially if the position you are willing to offer them is a serious one.

There are a couple of ways in which you can spice it up and see how your candidates behave in an alternative environment.

Give Your Candidates a Tour

One of the most obvious suggestions is giving your candidates a tour. Take them out of the interview room and introduce them to the prospective working space. By walking through the office alongside them, you will likely get a clearer understanding of whether they are a suitable candidate for the job or not.

The first two major areas that these cover are answering the essential questions:

  • Is this person genuinely interested in receiving the position you are offering?
  • How do they interact with other people?

By introducing candidates to your already existing employees, you will get a chance to see whether the candidate is capable of finding the right approach to different people as well as will get some feedback from the people who already work for you.

On top of that, as you conduct the tour, you can also notice whether the person is interested in the company or not. Are they asking questions? Are they paying enough attention? Are they curious about the processes carried out in the company?

Share a Meal

Another great way to find more information about your candidate without digging too hard is by sharing a meal with them. The ideal scenario would be the two of you going for lunch as a follow up to your interview, but you can also alter the situation to attend to your needs.

For instance, you could arrange an interview in a café, to begin with. If you take the interview out of the conference room and place it in a more relaxed, casual setting, you will be able to get a better grasp of what kind of person is sitting in front of you.

The only thing is that you need to be paying close attention to their actions and gestures in order to read between the lines.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, a lot of these tips are aimed at making it easier for the recruiters to get a better understanding of the candidate’s personality and give them a fairer assessment based on who they are and whether they will fit into the team well.

If you use one of the tricks and tips laid out above, or even combine several of them, you will get a better insight into the characters of the candidates to apply to your jobs, and therefore be more successful in hiring the right candidate!

About Author

Eric Brown is an experienced journalist who enjoys writing about sport and lifestyle. He has recently launched his own website where he covers topics of great interest for modern men.