How to tell if a job candidate really knows their stuff


How do I know if a candidate is really good at their job??

Blog - strong skill sets

As a recruiter it can be challenging for me to decipher if my candidate is really good at what they do. I am not an expert in their field.

I am not an IT expert nor a finance or accounting professional nor a tax expert. Not an engineer and I really know nothing about biosciences expect my kids should probably go into that growth field. Also not a sales expert, either. These functions are common recruiting positions.

But I must accurately judge their knowledge so I can determine whether to present a strong candidate to my client for the open job. You might say I am a generalist – not having a really specific knowledge base. I try to put pieces of facts together and analyze. I blame my business school MBA.

So how do I judge a candidate’s expertise?

I will always ask the candidate about their skill sets. Then I want to hear two things:

1. An excitement in their voice.

2. Upon hearing the description of their skills I want to get a little bit bored. I want to hear the candidate ramble a bit – go on and on – and then I can get a gauge on their level of expertise.

I will apologize to the candidate in advance admitting that I am no expert in their field. But If I can hear a really clear explanation of the technical skills they use it says to me the candidate can teach or explain the concept very well.

My litmus test is if a candidate is able to explain the skill in basic terms and I can understand it then you must really know it.

So don’t be afraid. Go ahead and talk shop. Just make sure your audience could pass a pop quiz soon after.

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