13 Surprising Ways to Learn Valuable Information About Job Candidates

Resumes and cover letters can largely show whether a candidate is qualified for a position, but sometimes it takes some more creative ways to learn if that person will be a good fit for your company. The next time you’re interviewing candidates, try one of these tactics to reveal something unique about them.

A. Ask Them to Bring Something In

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Before the in-person interview, we ask candidates to bring something in that will help them stand out. Some candidates forget, which shows us their attention to detail. For those who remember, we look at the quality of what they bring in. Is it one report or an entire portfolio? Do they go through it with us or just leave it on the table? This helps us see a candidate’s thoroughness and confidence. – Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

A. Call Me on Skype

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I require candidates at the second stage of the interview to call me on Skype at the given time. I can then eliminate candidates who don’t know how to add a contact (seriously) or wait for me to call them. This simple test tells me if they can read and follow directions and take initiative with technology, even one as simple as Skype. – Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

A. Find 10 Things to Do With a Roll of Duct Tape

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In interviews, we’ll have a roll of duct tape close by. We’ll hand it to the candidate. Then we’ll ask, “what are 10 things you can do with this duct tape?” If they can’t think of 10 things to do with duct tape, then chances are they won’t be able to share something unique about a company on social media 30 times a month. – Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

A. Assign Tests to Candidates

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I test my job candidates. If they are going to do graphics and branding, they need to create sample logos and banners. Web work candidates need to do some coding. Sales people do sample sales calls. Making them perform a function they would be responsible for if they get the job is a part of the interview process. – Justin Sachs, Motivational Press

A. Ask Them to Pick a Spot for the Interview

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I’ve had interviews in parks, coffee houses, bars, airport lounges, and even on Skype. By letting the candidate select where they would like me to interview them, I get a better sense of their personality, where they feel comfortable, and how they like to work. This provides a better idea than if I just have them come into my office and sit on the other side of my desk. – Peter Daisyme, Due

A. Push Them to Talk About Conflict

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In a startup, there are going to be ups and downs. It’s really important to understand how a candidate handles conflict. Conflict can be a positive. I want to understand how a candidate handles uncertainty. Are they a team player? Do they blame other people? Are they collaborative? Do they understand there often aren’t easy answers at a startup? The answers to these questions tell me a lot. – Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas

A. Send Them to Lunch With Someone From Another Department

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Put them in a casual setting with someone they won’t be working with directly. Don’t give the current employee much guidance on what to discuss or evaluate. Let the candidate decide what they want to talk about and have the employee report back. This will give you a strong sense of what’s important to them and their confidence level outside of their own industry. – Roger Lee, Captain401

A. Offer a Trial Period

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We offer a month trial period with all new hires. During this month, both the employee and our company treats the relationship like a permanent hire, but at the end of the trial, either party can decide whether the fit is right. The people who decide to move to the next level and join us permanently demonstrate that they really believe in solving the problem with us. – Ajay Yadav, Roomi

A. Ask Them to Create the Position

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I’ve brought in people for interviews without a job description, simply saying that they’ll be working with me. I’ll ask them what they think I need to do to take my business to the next level and what kind of position they’d create (including goals, daily responsibilities and deliverables) to best address my needs. It really speaks to their work ethic and creativity. – Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

A. Ask Them What They Are Presently Reading

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You can tell a lot about a person and their intellectual curiosity by what they are presently reading. Intellectual curiosity and a commitment to lifelong learning are hallmarks of diligent and conscientious future employees. Surprisingly, learning what a candidate is reading can easily help weed out candidates, especially ones who state that they are not reading anything. – Eric Mathews, Start Co.

A. Ask Candidates About Their First Job

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We have learned a lot about candidates based on how old they were when they had their first job. We have seen a direct correlation between the best employees, those who work with diligence and excellence, and how young they were when they started working. Whether it was mowing lawns or being a lifeguard, those who started working young are our most successful and driven team members. – Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

A. Take Them Out In a Social Setting

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I like being able to see how a potential job candidate conducts themselves in a relaxed social setting. This allows me to see how they interact with others, whether it be a server or bartender. You can truly learn a lot about a person’s character by how they interact and treat others around them. – Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

A. Test Their Proficiency With Important Tools in Real Time

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When hiring for a role that requires proficiency with a software, it’s less telling to assign a project and check back in after completion. While we were hiring for an operations manager, a supervisor assigned an Excel project and watched the candidates as they worked. Even though they described themselves as proficient at Excel, several candidates failed to display a firm grasp of the software. – Peggy Shell, Creative Alignments

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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