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3 Strategies for the Most Accurate Candidate Assessment

Even before you exchange a single sentence with an interview candidate, you will already have made a series of assumptions about them. These assumptions can come subconsciously – you notice how they’re dressed, their posture, their cleanliness levels, and the uncertainty of their smile; all of these cues will influence your decision-making process.

However, assumptions of this kind may be inaccurate or utterly irrelevant to assessing the candidate and whether they are suitable for the job. A competent interviewer won’t let these things interfere with recognizing the true potential in a new hire.

Here are three effective strategies for minimizing your assumptions and interference during an interview:

Allow the First Impression to Change

Experts say that it takes anywhere between a few hundred milliseconds to 7 seconds to determine whether or not you like the person you’ve just met. First impressions are powerful – they can make or break friendships, relationships, and even careers. But first impressions don’t always have to be accurate.

When you’re meeting a job candidate for the first time, acknowledge that they’ve made their first impression on you. It’s futile to fight it. This first impression can be good, but it can also be bad. Allow yourself to recognize this and perhaps write it down.

At the same time, allow the first impression to change in the next few minutes, depending on how the interview goes. Don’t deliberately seek evidence that will confirm your initial thoughts – this is called confirmation bias, and it has no place in the interview process.

Maintain a Poker Face

Your apparent likes or dislikes of a candidate’s answers will influence that candidate’s behavior. People are good at reading other people – if a candidate notices that you don’t approve of something, they will change their course accordingly.

Even if you’ve never played poker before, try maintaining a poker face. Go for a friendly and positive demeanor – a slight upturn of the corners of your lips, small nods here and there, neutral comments to confirm you are listening. Try not to give away whether you like what you hear or not.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

If you ask a candidate for an example of how they worked in an unstructured environment without guidance, they will have little trouble inferring the answer. They will come up with a story that showcases them as someone who can quickly work without guidance.

Instead of unintentionally leading the candidate to the correct answer, ask more open-ended questions. Ask the candidate whether they ever worked in an unstructured environment without additional information. They will still assume the answer should be affirmative, but this way, you will invoke a more honest answer from them.


Reducing interference from inaccurate first impressions and accidentally influencing the candidate with your gestures or questions should be a priority for an experienced interviewer. After all, the goal is to assess whether the person is right for the job – if your assessment is correct, both the candidate and your company will benefit from a successful interview.

Discover the best way to eliminate interference and biases during a job interview, as well as how to consistently connect with your leadership team and predictably turn them into highly engaged employees. Call me for some complimentary advice. Book an appointment at or call me at +1 (604) 943-0800.

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734