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Candidate Interview Guide: How to Evaluate Candidates for Skills & Culture Fit

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The concept that people are a company’s greatest asset is not just a concept. And in the world of talent acquisition, it is literally – an absolute truth. In fact, when it comes to the recruiting industry, the people or candidates in your talent pool are more than just assets. They’re essential human resources and a critical component to whether your business is successful or not. That’s why identifying the most compatible candidates for the jobs you’re looking to fill is an equally critical element to your overall recruiting strategy. After all, building a high performing team starts with filling roles on that team with candidates who are more likely to succeed in the role.

In a fiercely competitive market where top talent is often scarce or being wooed by your competition, recruiters and hiring managers have the daunting task of sourcing candidates who match job descriptions, but also engaging and screening those candidates to ensure they are a truly compatible fit from a skills and company culture perspective. It’s definitely a tall order with 72% of employers surveyed stating they find it difficult to acquire skilled candidates. The key to overcoming some of these challenges lies in having a solid strategy in place for efficiently and effectively evaluating candidate skills and culture fit. To tip the scales in your favor, let’s explore some tips and best practices for developing candidate screening and interview processes that help you achieve your recruiting goals. Before we get too far, let’s take a look at what the primary objectives are for a candidate screening interview.

Three objectives of a screening interview

A screening interview is a vital step in the recruitment process that helps employers determine whether or not a candidate is the right fit for their organization. During the screening interview, recruiters or hiring managers evaluate the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and culture fit to ensure they are the right person for the job. Here are the three main objectives of a screening interview:

Evaluate Qualifications & Skills

During a screening interview, hiring managers should evaluate a candidate’s qualifications and skills to make sure they meet the requirements of the position. Interview techniques such as asking questions about past job roles, tasks, accomplishments, and challenges can help assess a candidate’s abilities and whether they have the necessary experience for the job.

Assess Culture Fit

It’s more important than ever to factor company culture into the hiring equation. According to a survey by Glassdoor, 77% of respondents said company culture was a key consideration to accepting a job. Another 56% said company culture was a more important factor than salary. Obviously, assessing culture fit is essential. Posing questions such as “What values do you believe in?” or “How do you think you will contribute to our team?” can provide insights into a candidate’s values and how they might fit into the existing workplace.

Evaluate Attitude & Professionalism

In addition to assessing qualifications and culture fit, it’s important to get a sense of a candidate’s attitude and professionalism. Cultural interview questions such as “What kind of working environment do you thrive in?” or “What do you think sets you apart from other candidates?” can give you an understanding of a candidate’s work ethic and personality.

By assessing a candidate’s qualifications, skills, and culture fit during a screening interview, hiring managers can make the best decision as to who is the right person for the job.

How to Prepare for a Screening Interview

It’s also important for the interviewer to be well-prepared. Here are some tips on how to prepare for a screening interview.

Familiarize yourself with the position and the candidate

Before the interview, take some time to get to know the position and what type of skills and experience the ideal candidate should possess. Review the candidate’s resume and any other material related to their experience and background that you may have. This will allow you to better understand the candidate and tailor your questions to get an accurate assessment of their skills.

Suggested Read: Can AI resume screening be Biased?

Develop a scorecard

Create a scorecard that you can use to rate candidates based on their responses to each question. A scorecard will help you objectively compare different candidates based on their answers and make it easier to determine who is the most qualified for the position. The use of a scorecard during the screening interview process is a great way to objectively evaluate potential candidates.

What to include in your scorecard

A scorecard should be tailored to the particular job and be based on the skills and qualities necessary for successful performance. It should include both quantifiable elements such as technical proficiency and measurable qualities such as communication ability and creativity. When creating your scorecard, there are several key elements that you should consider:

  1. List the main job requirements and any other factors that are important to the position such as qualifications, experience, cultural fit, etc. This will provide a framework for your evaluation.
  2. Determine the type of rating scale that you would like to use (e.g., 1-5 or 0-10). This will help you accurately rate candidates based on their performance.
  3. Assign points for each criteria. If possible, assign a point value to each item so that you can calculate an overall score for each candidate.
  4. Identify criteria that will require an in-depth explanation and discussion. These may include topics such as creativity, problem solving skills, or interpersonal relationships.
  5. Make sure to leave room on your scorecard to add notes or comments regarding each candidate’s performance. This will help you remember the reasons why you rated them the way you did.

By using a scorecard to rate candidates, you can more easily and objectively assess their skills and suitability for the role. It can also provide an invaluable source of data that can help inform future hiring decisions. Now that you know how to create a scorecard, it’s time to do a deeper dive into what questions you should ask during your screening interview.

Create a List of Interview Questions

Spend some time crafting a comprehensive list of questions that will help you gain insight into the candidate’s experience, culture fit and skillset. Use interview techniques such as situational or behavioral interviewing to ask questions about how the candidate has handled specific situations in the past. To identify which candidates are the best skill and culture fit for the organization, here are some questions to consider and be sure to ask each candidate the same questions.

  1. Can you tell me about your experience in this field?
  2. What motivated you to apply for this position?
  3. What do you think makes you a good fit for this role?
  4. How do you handle challenging tasks and deadlines?
  5. Tell me about a time you had to work on a project with a tight deadline.
  6. What have you learned from your past work experiences?
  7. What would you say is your biggest strength?
  8. How do you handle conflict or disagreements with coworkers?
  9. What would you say is your greatest weakness?
  10. What do you think makes a successful team?
  11. Do you have any questions for me?
  12. What values are important to you in a workplace?
  13. How do you prefer to communicate with your colleagues?
  14. What do you think are the most important qualities for a leader?
  15. How do you prioritize tasks and handle competing demands?
  16. Are there any initiatives or processes that you feel strongly about?
  17. What kind of work environment do you find the most productive?
  18. Do you enjoy working collaboratively or prefer working independently?
  19. How would you define success in this role?
  20. What techniques do you use to stay organized and motivated?
  21. Do you have any experience working with remote teams?
  22. Describe your ideal company culture.

Asking the right questions and deploying the right interview techniques during the screening process can help you make informed hiring decisions and select the best candidate for the job.

Ensure you have the necessary materials

This may seem obvious but make sure you have all of the necessary materials such as resumes, job descriptions, questionnaires, and scorecards ready. This will help you stay organized and allow you to quickly reference any information needed during the screening process.

How to Assess a candidate’s responses

Assessing a candidate’s responses is an important part of the screening interview process. It allows you to get a better understanding of the candidate’s skills, experience and cultural fit. There are several ways to assess a candidate’s responses:

Active listening

Active listening is one of the most important aspects of assessing a candidate’s responses. Ask for clarification on questions that require further explanation to help you gain a deeper understanding of the candidate’s thought process and experiences. Look for evidence of problem-solving abilities, creative thinking, and a willingness to collaborate with others.

Measure Quality

Questions should be designed to gauge how effectively a candidate communicates, processes information and presents their ideas. Make sure to pay attention to the detail and quality of their answers and look for evidence that they have considered multiple solutions or perspectives.

Check for Comprehension

Assessing how well a candidate comprehends the questions can provide a better idea of how they might perform in a real-work setting. Ask questions that require the candidate to explain their thoughts or opinions in greater detail. This will allow you to gauge the depth of their understanding and see how well they can articulate their ideas.

Watch for Red Flags

Pay close attention to signs that a candidate may show signs of dishonesty, lack of diplomacy or self-awareness. This includes making negative comments about previous employers. Pay attention to any signs of dishonesty or lack of self-awareness. These can be indicators that the candidate may not be a good fit for your company culture.

How to make a Hiring Decision

When it comes to making a final hiring decision, there are many factors that must be considered. To ensure you make the best choice possible, it’s important to consider not just the candidate’s skills and qualifications, but also their cultural fit within your organization.

Carefully review the assessment scorecard for each candidate and the comprehensive breakdown of the candidate’s performance on each section of the screening interview. It’s important to weigh the scores from different parts of the interview to get an overall sense of how well the candidate performed.

In addition to the assessment scorecard, take some time to analyze the candidate’s cultural fit. This is especially true for companies that prioritize culture in their hiring process. Before making a final decision, take some time to assess the candidate’s attitudes, values and communication style to ensure they will be a good fit within your organization.

Finally, you may also want to conduct reference checks with former employers and colleagues. By doing this, you can gain further insight into the candidate’s work ethic, interpersonal skills and professional qualifications. But even with a multifaceted strategy for candidate screening and interviewing, it can still be a challenge discovering those unicorn candidates ideally suited for the role. Not to mention surfacing candidates to meet your diversity hiring goals. This is where AI-powered sourcing technology can come to the rescue in a myriad of ways.

Consider an AI sourcing tool to expand your talent pipeline and optimize candidate quality up front

It’s no secret that recruiters and hiring teams face unprecedented challenges in today’s talent acquisition ecosphere including:

  • Shortage of qualified candidates
  • Time consuming manual shortlisting and candidate review
  • Inefficient searches due to lack of data
  • Costs and reduced efficiency from multiple tech stacks
  • Diversity hiring challenges
  • Filling specialized roles with niche candidates

However, when you integrate a powerful sourcing tool like Arya into the equation, the benefits are not just tangible, they’re also measurable.

Arya by the numbers

  • Largest local and global candidate database in the industry – 850M+ candidates sourced across 70+ channels
  • Exclusive talent scoring and ranking capability – Using 300+ parameters and six multi-dimensional data points to understand and assess candidate relevancy, Arya scores and ranks talent for compatibility, *simultaneously sourcing candidates from multiple channels on 90% of jobs in 23+ languages across more than 150 industries – in under 5 minutes, while reducing candidate review and shortlisting time by 50%. Arya can also score and rank a client’s internal database enabling candidate rediscovery in your existing talent pool in under 5 minutes.
  • Talent intelligence – Arya’s Talent Landscape and Market Intelligence data use predictive analytics around key data points such as location potential, skill set distribution, salary projection, company mapping, and education, etc., to establish more effective search parameters that not only lead you to the most compatible candidates faster, but also empower you with the right recruiting strategy up front for a particular job requisition or future labor needs.
  • Diversity is built-in – Arya delivers diverse candidates but eliminate bias. When creating a job, clients can enable diversity indicators based on their organization’s diversity goals. Arya delivers a list of candidates, scored and ranked for compatibility, highlighting the candidates who match the diversity indicator, but doesn’t select only candidates in the selected underrepresented class. The result – an unbiased and diverse list of qualified candidates, giving the recruiter the power to choose the appropriate candidate for the organization.
  • Single platform sourcing solution – No need for costly and inefficient multiple tech stacks. Arya enables you to source candidates from 150+ industries across 70+ channels + active applicants on-demand sourcing for niche, hard to fill roles.

With the after-effects of the Great Resignation, the influx of a whole new breed of workers with Gen Z, and the massive layoffs of the Great Dismissal, The recruiting and talent acquisition industry has its’ work cut out for them to stay ahead of the curve. Arming yourself with the right AI sourcing tool is the best way to meet every recruiting challenge and take your business to the next level. Book your demo of Arya today and keep your recruiting game strong!


What are the main objectives of a screening interview?

The main objectives of a screening interview are to assess a candidate’s skills and knowledge, evaluate their cultural fit with the organization, and ensure they have the necessary qualifications and experience for the role.

How do I prepare for a screening interview?

Before the interview, you should create an outline that includes the job requirements and the questions you want to ask the candidate. You should also review the candidate’s resume and any other materials they have provided.

What types of questions should I ask in a screening interview?

You should ask questions related to the job requirements, as well as general questions about the candidate’s skills, experience, and background. You should also ask questions to get a better understanding of the candidate’s personality and how they might fit into the organization’s culture.

How do I assess a candidate’s responses?

After asking each question, take time to carefully consider the candidate’s response. Listen for key words and phrases that demonstrate their skills, qualifications, and experience. Evaluate their body language and overall attitude during the interview.

How can I use a scorecard to rate candidates?

A scorecard is a great way to objectively assess each candidate based on specific criteria. Each criteria should be related to the job requirements, such as qualifications, experience, skills, and cultural fit. Assign a numerical value to each criteria so you can easily compare candidates at the end of the screening process.

How do I make a hiring decision?

Once you have completed all the interviews, review all your notes and ratings from the scorecard. Compare the candidates side by side to determine which one is the best fit for the job. Consider not only their qualifications and experience, but also their overall personality and how they would fit in with the team.

How can I assess a candidate’s cultural fit?

Ask questions during the interview to get a better understanding of how they would fit in with the existing team. Look for qualities that align with your organization’s core values and culture. Pay attention to their body language and attitude during the interview to get an idea of their overall personality.

Find more compatible candidates with Talent Intelligence.

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