Candidate Evaluation Activities
Introduction: a creative approach to evaluating candidates
Traditionally, companies have relied heavily on interviews to evaluate potential candidates who make it past the first screening round. In more recent years, forward-thinking companies are utilizing a new technique, which involves giving applicants a task, through which they can demonstrate their ability to perform the job. By setting this task before the interview stage, this not only increases the likelihood of finding the best candidate for the job, it also reduces the impact of unconscious bias. Tasks are generally designed to be anonymous, allowing evaluators to focus on the applicant’s abilities and potential, rather than their demographics. For example, they may compare applicants 1, 2, 3, and 4, rather than Rachel, José, Matthew, and Sharice.
Examples: From software engineers to violinists
Various versions of this technique have been used in many industries. Let’s look at three examples.
Designing your own challenge
Step 1: determine which skill(s) or knowledge are most important for the job at hand. For the examples above, coding is the most important skill for the software engineer, playing music for the violinist, and content production for the social media manager. Some skills are easy to determine (ex: accounting), while some are more nuanced.
Step 2: create a short activity or “test” wherein the candidate can demonstrate the skill. For roles with less specific skills, try posing a scenario in which the candidate will describe how they would go about resolving a problem in the scenario.
Step 3: Determine deliverable and create simple, consistent grading criteria. While objectivity is not always possible, aim to create a task and grading criteria that can be applied consistently. We recommend that you synchronize your criteria within your “standardized hiring scorecard” described in another article.
Step 4: Ensure that all applicants receive the same information about the challenge. For the task at hand to be fair and equitable, all candidates must receive the same challenge, under the same conditions. Information about the goal, timeline, how to submit results, and how much the results will influence whether they move forward should be transparent and shared with all applicants.
Conclusion: managing anonymity. Setting up an anonymous challenge necessitates logistical considerations. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, and you may have to tap into your creativity to find a way to make your unique task anonymous. In some cases, this may not be possible. In those instances, it is particularly important to have grading criteria that is as objective and clear-cut as possible.