How to Set An Interview Task to Identify the Best Candidate

How to Set An Interview Task to Identify the Best Candidate

Finding the best talent for your business can be challenging, which is why it is essential that you conduct an effective interview process to identify top candidates. To ensure you’re hiring someone who has the right skills, we recommend that you set an interview task for candidates.

An interview task will help you check that candidates would perform well in the role and will therefore make your choice easier. Now, what kind of task should you go for? And how do you set an interview task to identify the best candidate?

We’ll give you our top tips to tailor the interview task to the role and make it helpful by going through different types of tasks and looking at how they are relevant to specific job roles.


General Advice

First, here are a few general tips on assigning an interview task:


1. Keep it short and respect your candidate’s time

Be mindful of how much you’re asking and how much strain the task puts on candidates. Make sure you don’t overwhelm candidates by taking into account the time of preparation, time of work, and effort it will take. Aim for a maximum of one hour for the full task and ask yourself how you would feel about performing it to ensure it is feasible. You can also take the task on your existing team to see how well employees that you are qualified perform.

2. Explain why you want them to perform the task

Telling candidates what the broader scope is will help them understand what you’re looking for and work accordingly. Give context on why the task is useful for you to assess them as a candidate and explain what skills you are looking after and how these are relevant to the role you offer. Providing explanations also prevents candidates from thinking that you are only setting a task to steal their ideas or get free labour.

3. Leave room for creativity

There is a balance to be found between giving clear instructions and obstructing creativity. The aim of your task should be to assess specific skills while giving the candidate an opportunity to show how they can solve a problem creatively. For instance, if you’re asking for a writing task, leave them to determine what tone  and style they should adopt. If you want them to present a strategy to solve a problem, let them choose what elements they should incorporate within their plan and the timescale of the project.

4. Don’t open the interview with a task

It’s better to first meet candidates through a formal interview so that you understand their career history before asking them to complete a task. Indeed, you’ll want to look at the results of each applicant’s performance at the task while bearing their individual experience in mind.

<i>Tell candidates why you're setting an interview task so that they don't think you're taking advantage of them!</i>

<i>Tell candidates why you're setting an interview task so that they don't think you're taking advantage of them!</i>


The Right Task to Identify the Best Candidate

How to choose a task that’s relevant for the role you offer


1. Define the skills you want to assess

Identify the skills that are most important for the role that you offer. These may be technology skills, specific industry knowledge, creative skills or soft skills. Let’s take an example and say you’re recruiting a Social Media Manager. You’ll want them to be skilled on the social media platforms that your business uses so that these are managed efficiently. Then, you may also want them to have good knowledge of PPC ads, excellent writing and copywriting skills, aesthetic sensitivity, time management and planning skills, as well as interpersonal skills. You will probably not be able to assess all these (as you want to respect your candidates’ time), but do think about the skills needed for the job and then determine which ones are the most essential.

2. Assess technology skills

How to ensure your talent is tech-savvy?  Give them a time-limited short version of a task they would have to perform in the role and look at the quality of their work. You can also present them with a problem to solve–that’s a good way to test their problem-solving, strategy, and creative skills as well.

3. Assess industry knowledge

Go for the traditional school-style test! Simply ask industry questions to a candidate and note their answers to assess their level of expertise. You could make it a written test or even a multiple-choice questionnaire.

4. Assess creative skills

You can test a candidate’s creativity by giving them a writing task or a task that requires artistic skills. A fun way to see how imaginative they are is to ask how they would describe a colour of your choice to a blind person.

5. Assess soft skills

You can get an idea of your candidates’ soft skills (e.g., organisation, self-confidence, problem solving, attention to detail) through any of the previous tasks. However, some tasks can also help you assess these more clearly. For instance, in-tray exercises, where candidates are asked to organise a high workload, highlight their organisational skills and their ability to work under pressure. Similarly, communication skills can be assessed by asking a candidate to explain a complex notion (from the industry where they have expert knowledge for example) in simple terms, or to a child.


We hope this helps! If you're struggling to identify the best candidate remotely, have a look at Remote Recruitment: How to Ensure You're Hiring the Best Digital Marketing Talent for our top tips.