Using Pre-Interview Assessments for Better Interviews

By Caroline Roberson on June 9, 2022

When we ask recruiters what roadblocks they face, we hear a common theme: interview consistency and interview effectiveness. Interviewing is a team effort, and hiring managers play a pivotal role. Yet they often struggle to ask effective interview questions. In fairness, knowing what questions to ask can be difficult. This is where pre-interview assessments come in.

When assessments are used during the hiring process, they inform interviews. Assessments describe candidates’ personality traits and thinking styles. This information can be used to tailor questions that will help you better understand how well-suited candidates are for the job.

Assessments identify the skills and traits that require further discussion

Job fit assessments help illustrate candidates’ abilities to perform and excel in specific positions. During an interview, as you ask questions and listen to candidate responses, you can validate the assessment, expand what you know, and better understand how each candidate’s skills and traits will manifest on the job.

HighMatch’s Job Fit Reports can come with an Interview Guide that provides questions tailored to each candidate.

Without an assessment, interviewers may be left to create their own questions which may not be relevant to the job or candidate risk factors. These interview questions highlighted by Inc. may be interesting, or even fun, but they wouldn’t help you assess someone’s job fit:

  • “What position would you play on a soccer team?
  • “Are you smart, or do you work hard?”

By contrast, interviews informed by assessment results provide a chance to ask follow-up questions regarding specific skills, characteristics, and traits highlighted during the assessment. This is the type of information that your hiring team needs to determine whether the candidate should continue in the recruiting process or not.

Assessment reports help you identify areas of concern to explore during the interview

Interviews also offer the opportunity to explore any areas of concern highlighted by a pre-employment assessment. Because assessments are created based on the requirements of each position, they provide insights regarding what a candidate may—or may not—bring to that position. For example, if a job requires a medium sense of optimism but a candidate scores below that target, interviewers can follow-up to understand more about those gaps.

In most cases, not every person on the interview team will be an HR or recruiting expert. That’s when questions such as, “What’s your greatest weakness?” or “What position would you play on a soccer team?” will become the norm. To avoid these types of questions, prepare skills-based questions in advance.

For example, the HighMatch Job Fit Interview Guide prepared for a candidate who presents with a low rating in optimism would suggest the following question for interviewers to ask:

“Some people seem to feel that everything will probably be OK. Others seem to be constantly looking for what might go wrong. Where do you come out on this? Give me a couple of examples.”

This type of question not only helps the interviewer explore and hear directly from the candidate about the desired attribute, it also creates an opportunity for the candidate to engage about job expectations and learn more about what qualities they need to possess to be successful in a specific role.

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Avoid interviewer bias with consistent questions

Unconscious bias negatively impacts our judgment. In the case of job interviews, our unconscious bias can cause us to make decisions which favor one person over another. One way to minimize bias during the recruiting process is to, “ensure you are focused on your candidate’s specific qualifications and talents,” according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

By nature, an assessment highlights each candidate’s specific talents and traits. Assessments that offer job fit analysis, also relate the person’s traits back to the requirements of the job. HighMatch Job Fit Reports can come with an Interview Guide that provides questions specific to each candidate.

As this example illustrates, when you have the proper tools, it’s easy for anyone on the interview team to follow a standard process to ask fair and consistent questions, regardless of their bias about a trait:

Read the following to the candidate

[This candidate] can be fairly assertive and decisive in situations that are structured and where rules and regulations are clear. They often prefer to go “by the book” and depends on being correct in order to exercise their authority and meet designated standards.

Ask the candidate

  • Sometimes it makes sense to step back and assess a situation rather than jump in and take action. Tell me about some times where you waited before moving forward. How did this approach work for you and others?
  • In dealing with others who’ve worked with you, think about your most effective team member or manager. What would she or she say about how you use your assertiveness to get the job done? What would this person say about situations when you might have used either more or less assertiveness and been more effective?

When an assessment is paired with related interview questions, you can be assured that you’re doing what you can to reduce bias—not only by using assessment results but also providing relevant questions that remove the potential for interview bias around a specific trait.

Interview guides help ensure hiring managers dig deeper, explore areas of concern, and conduct consistent interviews across all candidates. Doing interviews well is critical to identifying the right fit. And the truth is, interviewing is harder than even the best HR professionals like to admit. If you want to learn more about how to make your interviews feel like a conversation, not an interrogation, check out our Comprehensive Interview Guide.

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