Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
3 Talent Acquisition Tips for Unmasking Candidates

3 Talent Acquisition Tips for Unmasking Candidates

One of the biggest challenges in talent acquisition is one that nobody talks about: masked candidates.

Some hiring professionals aren’t even aware of their existence. Those who know about masked candidates, don’t understand how to unmask them to decipher between cleverly disguised imposters and true top talent. Even hiring professionals who have a strategic hiring plan struggle with this dilemma.

This ‘masked’ appearance often leads to hiring people who aren’t a good cultural fit. Making the right hiring decision is the most common hiring challenge. The best way to overcome this obstacle is to get to know candidates for who they truly are.

We asked a few hiring professionals to share how they improved their talent acquisition process by taking a peek behind candidates’ masks to find the real talent that aligned with their hiring needs.

Here are the hiring tips they shared:

1. Get Coffee and Host Work Sessions

I’ve found that there are two things during the interview process that can help gauge a candidate’s authenticity and cultural fit:

Schedule the first interview at a coffee shop or somewhere casual. If someone’s application looks promising, I like to meet for coffee for 30 minutes. I don’t ask any job-specific questions at this point and prefer to just let the conversation flow naturally. This meeting has proved to be effective at getting an initial gauge on if the candidate might fit in well at Postali.

Then, if it moves to the interview stage, coordinate a working session with the team. A candidate can talk about their skills and knowledge, but I’ve found that seeing it in action is more effective.

We recently interviewed for an SEO Director position. A few days before the interview, we sent the candidate some information about the topic of their working session. For about an hour during the interview, we brought in the members of the team that the candidate would work with, and they worked through a strategy together.

This is helpful for two reasons. It is a quick way to understand if they can apply the skills on their resume in an effective way. It’s also an opportunity to involve the whole team in a hiring decision.

The people who are going to be working day-to-day with a candidate should feel comfortable after the working session. Even if a candidate passes the recruiter and hiring manager’s test, it’s a red flag if they can’t work effectively with the team during this part of the interview process.    
John Sickmeyer, President of Postali

Recommended Reading: Learn more about how to uncover hidden talents in this post on tips for interviewing candidates.

2. Test Their Knowledge and Check Their Past

From my experience, the biggest mistake recruiters make is being too easily sold by the confidence of a candidate. It’s great when an interviewee seems in control and believes in their own competence, however, it’s important to not let their charisma blind you to other faults they may have.

How I try to draw out the authenticity is by seeing if they’ve done their homework. A candidate who is serious about the job should have done some research on us beforehand and should know about/at least have some kind of opinion on:

  • Our products
  • A few things we do well
  • Something we could potentially improve

The more of an understanding they have of our company, the more I believe they are invested in this job opportunity and that we aren’t just another notch in their interview belt.

To truly identify fit during your talent acquisition process, focus on two primary things: check their references, and look closely at their past work, if applicable. Talking with past employers is a great way to get a glimpse behind a candidate’s interview mask, and analyzing their portfolio will give you a better idea of how they’ll fit into your work culture.

Geoff Scott, Career Advisor and Resume Expert at Resume Companion

3. Show Candidates a Mirror

I talk with the person I’m interviewing about our goal, which is to discover five different components of fit: career, culture, experience, job, and work/life. There is some overlap in these five areas, but it gets to the different aspects of fit for both.   

It is less likely an applicant will want to fake authenticity instead of exploring if it is a good fit for them, too. If people are unable to articulate these different things, likely, they are just looking for a job.

Making a hiring decision based on interviews is the least reliable way to hire, yet this seems to be how the majority of hiring happens.

In addition to prescreening, our method uses multiple points of reference from which to make a hiring decision, including salary and position research, benchmarking studies, culture surveys, assessments, 360 references, peer input, social security number verification, work history verification, education verification, and hiring manager structured interview training and usage.

Also, if it is a new position, scheduling frequent conversations to discuss how it is going is helpful.  

Sara Bradley, founder of Hunter Bradley Inc.

How do you unmask talent during your talent acquisition process? Let us know!

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.