Q&A: How do I know I’m hiring best-fit candidates?

Lora Patterson, HR Advisor at Zenefits
Oct 27, 2022

The hiring process can be overwhelming, and it can often feel like a guessing game trying to find that perfect candidate for your company and the role you’re trying to fill. Lora Patterson, a People Operations Advisor at TriNet Zenefits, joins the show to go over the steps your company can take to find those […]

The hiring process can be overwhelming, and it can often feel like a guessing game trying to find that perfect candidate for your company and the role you’re trying to fill.

Lora Patterson, a People Operations Advisor at TriNet Zenefits, joins the show to go over the steps your company can take to find those great employees.

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On this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [00:32] Understand how their career goals fit with the job
  • [01:03] Check references with different questions
  • [01:45] Don’t just focus on their resume
  • [03:00] Ask unusual or uncommon questions
  • [04:08] Bring them into another environment
  • [05:11] Take your time; push for diversity



Welcome to pops, the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people operations for the new world of work. How by answering one question at a time. I’m Lora Patterson, a people operations advisor at TriNet Zenefits. Here to help answer the question, how do I know I’m hiring best fit candidates?

As you know, the hiring process can be overwhelming and it can often feel like a guessing game, trying to find that perfect candidate. Well, today I wanna go over the steps your company can take to find those great employees. The first step is understand how the candidate’s career goals fit with this job.

A lot of times we get so caught up in finding our perfect candidate that we forget this person is also looking for the right career move for them. I would suggest asking questions. How does this job fit with your career aspirations? What do you see yourself doing in the next three years or even five years?

How do you see yourself growing in this position? Now, if you can align your candidate’s goals and your company goals for this position, you can create a really successful relationship. The second step is to check references. Now, this is a common step where you call past employers and ask things like, Why did this person leave?

Would you hire them again? You know, what type of employee were. But I think there’s an opportunity to push it further and ask additional things like what was it like to work with them? What were their greatest strengths? What were their biggest accomplishments while you worked together? How did they handle challenges?

Really, this is your opportunity to get a feel for how this person works and how they can contribute to your team. The next thing is, I wouldn’t solely focus on their resume. It can be tempting to start an interview by walking through someone’s resume, but ideally, you should have read and studied that resume prior to the interview.

Now it’s time to ask open-ended questions to actually see how their past experience will serve them in this position. Speaking of questions, this leads to the next step. Ask them questions about how they would handle scenarios that actually come up in this new position. So what you wanna do is you wanna evaluate how they’re going to work through the day to day situations that they’re going to face on this job.

One great way to do this is to use strategies beyond the face to face interview. This would mean having them take things like a personality test or a skill based questionnaire. Um, something our advisory team actually does is we give candidates a take home test with some trickier questions that we’ve handled in the past.

We’ve found it’s one of the strongest ways to see if candidates will succeed in this position. It shows us how they communicate. It gives us an idea of their knowledge. It shows us how well they can research and it shows us if they can think outside of the box when there’s not a clear cut answer. The next thing I would push for is ask unusual questions that they may not have encountered.

Often, a lot of times, I know I do this, when you’re prepping for an interview, you Google the top questions you’re gonna get asked, and so a lot of candidates already have their pre-scripted answers to those questions. So I think it’s helpful to ask something that may be a bit unusual, but ask things like, what’s the biggest misperception people have about you?

What qualities of your parents do you like the most? How would your best friend describe you? What is your natural strength? Ask them, you know, is there something that you’re just not good at? These types of questions help shake things up, and it gives you a better idea of who this person is. And the next thing I would challenge you to do is make sure this candidate spends plenty of time with your team.

A big way you can do this is involve your team in the interview process. Make sure they’re meeting these candidates the same times that you’re meeting these candidates, you could also walk the candidate around the office and introduce them to different teams. This is going to let you see how they interact with the.

Are they respectful, curious? I mean, are they asking questions about how things work? Um, another thing you can do is take them out for lunch. Now, this is an interesting one because when you go out to lunch with someone, you’re able to see those little things that maybe you didn’t pick up before. Are they polite to servers?

Do they look people in the eye? Can they actually keep a conversation going? It’s just another layer for you to see who this person actually is. Another thing I think you should be doing is pay attention to the questions they ask you for someone to wanna continue their career with your company. They should have a lot of questions.

They should wanna know how to be successful in this role, what the expectations are, how the team works together. The questions they ask you are going to help you gauge their interest level. Next, I would understand your own company culture. What workplace do you want to create? What traits do you value most in your employees?

Once you have a good understanding of the culture you want, you can ask and incorporate questions in the interview process that help you see if this person’s values and traits fit that culture. Next, I would take your time. Oftentimes there’s this push to find someone right away. Maybe you had an employee quit recently and you need someone immediately to help.

However, limiting your interviews to just a couple days also means limiting the candidates you can attract. If this role is essential to your company, then it’s important to give yourself enough time to find a great candidate. Next, I would push for diversity. Diversity is crucial because it provides different perspectives for innovation, problem solving, creativity, and really companies need as many perspectives as they can get in order to succeed.

So try pushing for candidates that fit what you’re missing and not just someone who is a mini me to those that came before. One way you could do this is by casting a wide net. When looking for candidates, you wanna make sure you’re getting as diverse candidate pool as possible. The last step is be crystal clear about expectations in the hiring process.

We may tend to sugarcoat things with our candidates, but it’s important to let them know the day to day expectations that await them. The last thing you want is for them to be surprised after their first week at the company when they realize this role looks nothing like what was outlined for them.

This could not only make them feel misled. It also leads to turnover. So setting those clear expectations, letting them know how things are going to be from day one is going to help them succeed in the role and help them feel even more invested in this company. As you can see, a lot of effort should go into finding the right candidate for your team.

You’re not just looking at resumes and calling references. You’re looking to invest in a worker who also wants to invest in your company. Do you have questions for us? Click the link in the show notes. Or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to podcast zenefits.com.

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