You’ve whittled it down to the final candidates competing for your available vacancy and now you need to know how they would handle the job on offer. A great way to test the skills and experience your candidates have detailed on paper is to set them a homework assignment. This is a great recruiting strategy because it will not only give you an idea of whether they would be a good cultural fit, but you can witness their problem-solving and analytical skills before hiring them.
What do they involve?
The aim of the homework assignment is to test the candidate’s ability to cope with the principle tasks of the job they have applied for, therefore the form of the assignment will differ according to the role on offer. For instance, someone applying for an IT position may be asked to complete some coding, whereas a sales role will most likely require a candidate to perform a sales presentation. You will have to ensure you give all of the candidates support throughout their project, providing them with all the details they will need to complete the task effectively.
Why are they helpful?
Homework assignments are not about testing the candidate in terms of them reaching the ‘right’ answer, but to see how they make decisions and conduct their work in general. You can then decide if their work ethic will fit in well with the company’s work environment. Furthermore, it is relatively easy to claim you have greater skills than you actually possess on your CV. By not letting their dazzling personality and how they look on paper blind you and setting them a task before hiring them, you can ensure you don’t end up hiring an interview faker.
Things to remember:
- Follow up – you must allow the candidates to present their project to you in the form of an interview. This gives them the opportunity to explain their results and conclusions as well as conduct a question and answer based discussion with you. This will undoubtedly supply you with all the information you need to decide whether this candidate is truly suitable for the available role.
- Be reasonable – try to keep the project a reasonable size and make it clear that this is purely part of the application process, not an attempt to get you to solve any problems you have for free. By making sure the candidates understand it’s not the ‘right’ answer but how they answer that matters and not asking them to spend nights and weekends completing it, you can be sure you’re not asking too much of your candidates.
- Take note – completing work unpaid isn’t going to appeal to some of your candidates. However, the most motivated and passionate candidates will be willing to embrace this opportunity in order to prove themselves. Thus you can even test a candidate’s suitability simply by their reaction to the homework assignment.