Woman Peering Through BlindsWe talk a lot about the importance of formal interview processes; e.g. structured interviews, assessment centers, psychometric tests, etc.

While these processes have good levels of predictive validity, many of the best candidates know that they are coming and can see them a mile off and are, therefore, well prepared to handle your assessment process. This means that in many instances you will not be properly probing the candidate, rather you will be receiving a pre-prepared response.

So, if you want to get behind the shield that most of today’s top candidates can put up and really find out the truth about the candidate, perhaps you need to adopt some stealthier interview practices. That means assessing them without knowing they are being assessed. I have therefore elaborated on four stealthy but informal ways to assess candidates without them knowing they are being assessed:

A word of caution however, these are quite informal, and perhaps a little more lighthearted and  adventurous approaches, which might be used to reinforce some of the findings of the more formal (but not infallible), interview processes.

1.Try and talk them out of the job

If you are worried about a candidate’s conviction for the company and the role long term, a stealthy way to try and get behind the glossy responses is to try and carefully talk him/her out of the job.

Look at aspects of the person’s background or qualities and contrast them with certain aspects of your organization, (be truthful and don’t exaggerate), where there may be a conflict and give the candidate a way out. For example, your candidates may have come from a lively industry or company culture and shown a preference for this in their past career and life choices, yet your environment may be more uniform and pedestrian. Highlight and contrast this and even make suggestions for companies that they might be better suited to or might be happier in. After this priming, then ask them, “Do you really think this is the right fit, do you think you’d be happier elsewhere?”If you have a contact in a more suitable company, suggest that you could put them in touch.

Now, this question is likely to throw the candidates and they won’t be prepared and you may get a more honest response about their passion for their business.

2. Hobbies and Interests

Research from Kellog Business School tells us that many employees use hobbies and interests as a sign of a candidate’s personal qualities and fit and these can be more important than qualifications. Now, I am not advocating relying on hobbies and interests to that level, but rather using them as a stealthy means of finding out a little more about the character of the candidates. For example, a Business Insider Article has referenced  a section from Crazy Good Interviewing: How Acting a Little Crazy Can Get You The Job where they list 13 hobbies and outline what they say about a candidate’s personality. For example, a person who likes to cook might be more creative and be able to improvise when not all the ingredients are available, someone who like’s fishing could be patient and focused, marathon runners might be very aggressive in meeting sales targets, and those involved in community groups could be good managers and collaborators.

So, consider what a person’s hobbies or interests might say about their personal qualities, and perhaps probe him/her on it during the interview. For example, does cooking mean a freezer full of frozen food and a microwave or is it cordon bleu, which is consistent with the idea of creativity.

3. Wine choices

Many employers like to have a semi informal/semi social interview, which takes the form of an after-work dinner or team drinks. This is a great way to interview in stealth. You can see how well a candidate engages and what views and attitudes emerge after the person’s tongue has been loosened with relaxation and, perhaps, a glass of wine. But, interestingly, a new study by French Wines with Style reported in the Huffington Post has shown that your choice of wine can reveal things about your personality, or a candidate’s personality. For example, red wine drinkers were found to be ambitious,  while white wine lovers were more practical and relaxed and seemed to be a little happier, while Rose drinkers were heavily into social networking and were warm and charming.

4. Office tour

The office tour is great way to see how sociable or unsociable a candidate is? Did they tell you that they were great at building relationships and collaborating, yet when you take them on the tour, are they stiff, awkward and unable to engage and gel with the team and various personalities?

Good luck with your next stealth interview!


Power your recruiting success.
Tap into Recruiter.com, the largest network of recruiters.

in Interview Tips]