Job InterviewMost people are familiar with a job interview: a nervous candidate meets with an employer, answers a series of questions about their experience, strengths, weaknesses and education, and sometimes takes an aptitude test.

Employers have used employment interviews to choose between potential candidates since, well since before I even got my first job which is a long time ago now.

But there is only so much you can learn about a person in an interview, though, and hiring the wrong candidate can cost you valuable time, money, and energy. Here are some innovative ways for you to identify the best people for your company, without repeatedly asking the same questions.

1. Test Their Skills

In an interview, or even on a CV, candidates can tell you how good they are at performing certain tasks, but you never know for sure until you see the candidate in action.

These days, some companies are turning to skills tests to have candidates show their abilities. Say you own a graphic design firm. Rather than just looking at the candidate’s portfolio, create a fake client based on your typical client and have the applicant create a website landing page for that fake client. Hiring someone in sales? Have them sell something to you and other staff members.

Finding a way to see their skills in action tells you a lot about their abilities, and how well they’ll work in your organisation. It also tells you something about their soft skills that you won’t get from an interview.

2. Hire Them Temporarily

Hiring the applicant temporarily gives you the opportunity to see how candidates perform their designated tasks and jobs. In this scenario, you hire the candidate via contract to carry out a job duty. It can either be a project they work at on their own time or you can bring them in to your business for a set time period to see them work.

You get to see how they handle typical projects (or the day-to-day in your organisation) and they get a better sense of your company.

Whether or not someone meshes with your company isn’t something that can be easily determined in an interview, especially if the candidate is nervous during the interview. You might get a sense of them but until you see how they perform on the job, you won’t know for sure.

3. Watch Their Interactions

Bring them into the office and see how they interact with other people.  Technical skills are one thing, but if the chosen candidate can’t communicate or easily offends other staff members, you will quickly have a problem on your hands.

Do they visit with the receptionist? Do they smile at people as they walk by? Do they chat with others whilst making a cup of tea/coffee?  Then ask those people for their perceptions. How did the receptionist feel talking with that person? Did other people in the office find that person friendly and approachable? That can tell you a lot about their personality, more than in the strained atmosphere of a job interview.

“Staff are one of your biggest assets.  Getting it right is vital for long term success, getting it wrong can be an immediate disaster.”

Personally I hate job interviews. I am much more of a people person than a traditional interview will ever allow.  So being flexible in your approach is vital.

Adopting new ways to hire staff can change how you view hiring, and how you view potential employees. You may still have to conduct a job interview to clarify some things with the employee, but you will get a much more rounded view of the whole person, not just see the items on their resume and hear about the things you think to ask about.