Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
Assessing Candidate Interest Level

Expert Secrets To Assessing Candidates’ True Interest Level

When hiring, you not only want to find the most skilled and hardworking candidates around, you also want to find ones who are truly interested in the open position and the company. Having the right skills is important, but if a candidate doesn’t align with the company’s values and culture, it won’t be long before you’re looking for a replacement employee.

In fact, a 2015 Talent Attraction Study from Indeed found that within 91 days of being hired, 65 percent of employees are already looking for a new job. If you want to avoid high turnover caused by poorly matched candidates, you need to be able to accurately judge their level of interest in your company.

Here are six expert tips on assessing candidates and how well they actually match up with your company:

1. It’s not what they say, but how they say it.

I can tell if a candidate is really interested in our company if the conversation flows well during the initial phone screen. They will be forthcoming with answers and truly sound excited and engaged. Short- or close-ended answers are big clues that the interest level may not be there.

In addition, if a candidate mentions information that shows me they have done prior research on who we are (products, divisions, etc.), this is a great sign of interest! They don’t have to be an expert on who we are, but it definitely helps if they’ve done their due diligence beforehand.

Their tone is also important. Do they sound apathetic or bored? It’s not just the answers they give, but how they sound. A candidate could say all the right things, but their tone and conversation flow is just as important.


Claire Tuck, Corporate Recruiter, Oldcastle Precast

2. Think about the questions they ask.

Questions asked often reveal more than answers given. Candidates who are genuinely interested in a role and company will be assessing their ability to be successful in the employer’s environment and looking for evidence of career progression opportunities in the future.

This can be examined in part at the very beginning of the process, but it’s usually only once the process is underway that a candidate’s true intentions begin to appear. This is true of hiring at all levels and is one of the best ways to gain valuable candidate insight.


Alexandra Watson, Partner, Renovata Partners

3. Get a feel for their industry knowledge.

One of my favorite questions to ask is what industry publications they read. It helps us to gauge how much interest they have in the field and in the position. We also like to ask them what they know about our company. We don’t expect them to know the inner workings, but more generally what they like about the site. It helps us to see whether or not a candidate has taken some time to do basic research. If they can’t be bothered to look at our site, then they aren’t interested in the job.


Michael Heiligenstein, Director of SEO, Fit Small Business    

4. Ask for an elevator pitch.

Your time is just as valuable as the candidate’s. If you are not 100 percent certain of their interest in your company, then moving them through the process is a waste of time. The best hiring screen is asking candidates to pitch your company’s product or service in 30 seconds. You will immediately weed out who is passionate about your company and who is just there to see what comes of it.


Jamie Coakley, Managing Director, Betts Recruiting

5. See if they’re dedicated to the process.

I personally love to do multiple rounds of interviews when hiring. In my experience, this not only gives the interviewer a chance to really get to know the candidates on both personal and professional levels, but it also sets the bar high in terms of how badly the candidates want it. If they’re willing to come back to interview two or three times, their motivation is definitely on the right track.

I find that candidates usually drop off after the second round (where I usually ask for references and work samples), where only those who are really keen will make the effort to supply additional materials and come back in for additional interview rounds.


Jessica Thiele, Marketing Manager, Virtual Logistics Inc.

6. Know the value of the right attitude.

I only tend to eliminate candidates if their attitude or values don’t fit. Lets face it — many people are motivated by a need to earn money, so sometimes you will get someone whose main motivation is buying food and paying for the roof over their heads.

You can’t teach or train attitude. If someone has the right attitude, they can learn to love a job that seemed less interesting to them at first. Still, there is no silver bullet — you will always have bad hires, because people can lie and tell you what you want to hear. Ultimately, the candidate should be able to describe why they want the job and why they are a good fit for the job.


Johnathan Laing, Owner, Wanting More

What are some other tips for assessing candidates and their true interest in your company? Share in the comments below!

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.