Interviewing Candidates – What Should you Really be Looking For?

What to Look For When Interviewing Candidates

It’s one of the last but yet most crucial stages of the recruitment process. When interviewing candidates, most employers will make an initial judgement as to whether they have met someone they feel they can seriously consider for the role. You only have a short space of time to find out all you need from the prospective employees, and while some may be obviously unsuitable, there’s bound to be a few that you will need to think about further. So how can you distinguish diamonds in the rough from the ones who are all mouth and no trousers?

To avoid finishing the interview stage without anyone to employ, there are plenty of things you should look out for in your interviewees that could help you view people in a different light.


It’s obviously important to listen to what a candidate says, but also take time to notice how they say it. Things to pick up on are proactive language: do they speak about their previous duties as if they were following orders or initiating tasks? Do they speak passionately about their work?

Transferable skills:

As the ideal candidate becomes harder and harder to find, it’s time to look for transferable skills instead. You are doing this if you have chosen to interview someone who doesn’t necessarily tick all the boxes on your job specification, but you are still impressed by and wish to meet them. The interview stage is where these types of candidates usually excel, as they often have their own ideas about why they’d be best for the role. Lack of experience also makes some candidates try harder than all the other applicants, so you may consider sacrificing some experience in exchange for added keenness.


It’s all very well asking candidates to tell you about specific instances where there demonstrated their skills, but you should find out what they really know about the sector they’re going into. Ask their opinion on a specific threat or change facing the industry, or use some industry specific terminology and see if they understand it. You’ll be impressed by anyone who comes back with a prepared answer, but you may also be impressed by the ones who were thrown by the question but managed to think on their feet. This tells you several things about one person just by asking one question.

These three often unnoticed areas can unravel new dimensions to existing candidates, allowing you to make a better judged decision about who you’d like to work with.