Interview evaluation: how to analyse interview answers

By Robert Half on 30th October 2019

There are multiple factors to consider when analysing the interview answers of your candidate shortlist. In order to find a candidate who is a good match for the role and company culture, employers will need to find a way to objectively assess the answers given in the candidate interview.

According to research by Robert Half, two in five businesses realise they’ve hired the wrong candidate within two weeks. This has been attributed to mismatched skills for the job and to candidates being underqualified for the role. Learning how to identify a qualified candidate by assessing interview answers will ultimately ensure your hiring decision by making an offer to the right candidate.

When analysing interview answers, know which competencies you’re looking for

Before you know whether or not your candidate is a good fit for the job, you need to know exactly which competencies and must-have skills you’re looking for as part of your interview evaluation. 

You should ideally be asking a range of questions designed to probe technical skills and experience, cultural fit and soft skills during the candidate interview. These questions will be based on the role requirements which should ideally be decided between the hiring manager, the direct report and the senior stakeholders in the business. To help speed up the hiring time, all candidate requirements should be agreed before you start the hiring process. 

Alternatively, you can work with a recruitment professional who will use extensive hiring market knowledge to help you isolate the exact role to hire for and the skills needed to fulfil it.

Create a candidate assessment form
Objectivity and clear success metrics are the best way to perform an interview evaluation. You can do this by creating an interview evaluation form.

You can approach this by creating a grid and listing your interview questions down the left-hand side. You can then add all your key competencies to the top of the grid. As you work through your interview questions, you can check off each competency your candidate has when they give their interview answers.

When the interview process is complete, you can work your way down the grid, adding up a total score for each competency, to give yourself a clearer overview of how well each candidate matches the role. This approach will also make it easier for you to compare candidates against one another. This should narrow down the qualified candidates that are right for the role.

Pay attention to answer delivery
The interview answers a candidate gives are only half the story. Their suitability for the role and the company can also be determined by the way they deliver answers. Tone of voice and body language can reveal how suitable a candidate is in terms of cultural fit, which is a key component in employee job satisfaction and tenure.

During the interview evaluation, be aware of the following:

• Eye contact
Is the candidate looking you in the eye when you speak? Do they maintain eye contact when giving an answer? Eye contact is a sign of confidence—excessive blinking, looking down or roaming eyes can signify that the candidate feels under pressure or that they’re struggling to maintain their concentration. 

• Words and speech
What kind of words does your candidate rely on when giving an answer to your interview question? Are they articulate in their response or do they rely on ‘crutch words’? Is there a tendency towards negative or hesitant language? The words your candidate chooses when they respond are very telling of their general mindset.

• Body language
How is the candidate sitting while they listen to your questions? If they’re mirroring your body language, this is a sign they’re out to impress. If they have their arms or legs crossed, they could be feeling defensive. Pay close attention to how your candidate holds themselves when they listen and answer.

Effective interview evaluation requires focus

It’s important to truly listen to the interview answers of your candidate shortlist, and if possible hold the interviews back-to-back for effective comparison. At Robert Half, we offer our hiring managers our Company In process. In short, we look after all the booking in the shortlist, arranging the logistics of the interview and take care of any post-interview feedback. We also host these interviews in our offices as this provides a neutral setting and allows hiring managers to just focus on the interview.

To find out more recruitment advice, contact the experts at Robert Half.

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