Assessing talent: the best tools and worst red flags

Last updated:
December 17, 2020
December 18, 2021
min read
Beth Hudson
Table of contents

Assessing talent is difficult enough without the added stress of finding millions of suggestions on how best to do so across the internet. But you’re in luck, because we’re here to tell you that how you get to know your candidates is entirely up to you. It’s a personalized experience for the candidates as well as the employer/recruiters. For this reason, it will change depending on the situation and culture fit you’re looking for.

This week during the #TAinnovators Twitter chat, we asked you how you go about assessing talent! Read on to hear what you had to say, from the best tools to red flags to watch out for.

Q1. Is there a line that can be crossed when creatively getting to know candidates?

assessing talent

Assessing talent requires an in-depth analysis of all aspects of potential, current, and past candidates. However, there is a threshold where in-depth becomes invasive. Most #TAinnovators, including @kayodefakorode, say “of course, yes”. If you know too much information right off the bat (like their home address or favorite snack to eat in bed), it may come across as invasive. Make sure you have a connection before bringing something up. It’s a lot like dating (@TAinnovatorBeth)!

Others wonder if pushing these boundaries can secure you an “in” with potential talent. Commonalities are an asset when fostering connections with recruitment leads. Recruiting Animal (@animal) agrees: “Some recruiters research the people they want to approach and then include a remark about something they have seen online in their email. For instance, that they both love Flaming Hot Cheetos.” This can work very well to establish some common ground; just don’t dig too deep to find it! This may come across the wrong way.

Carol Quinn (@CQAttitude) believes that getting close to crossing that line isn’t even worth it: “Interviewing is my passion! That’s why I believe in Motivation-Based Interviewing (MBI). It’s focused on crafting questions & conducting the interview in a way that reveals the most important thing about the candidate–their motivation! No line-crossing needed”. While this comes about later in the hiring process, it gives employers a real chance at assessing talent without having to waste time with too much digging. Maybe it depends on the situation and resources at hand. Jim (@JKatzaman) gives us some ground rules: “Don’t cross the line by prying into personal information that has no bearing on job and performance.”.

Q2. What tools do you use to learn more about your candidates (and potential ones)?

assessing talent

Regardless of what method you choose when assessing talent, you can get to know candidates quickly and more effectively by using certain HR tools. Here are some that #TAinnovators participants recommend:

Contact-finding tools can only go so far. You’ll have (hopefully) accurate contact details, such as email addresses, phone numbers, etc. However, if you don’t have any information about what the potential candidate is like, you likely won’t be successful during outreach. Assessing talent starts at the very beginning of sourcing. Use tools like the ones mentioned above to facilitate this process and nab top talent that actually fits your needs.

Q3. How can you make the onboarding process more personalized for each hire?

assessing talent

Onboarding comes later in the process, but it still requires assessing talent. You have to know how they learn best, who they jive with in the company, their work ethic, and their goals for expanding this new role. How do you make sure that each and every new hire has a positive onboarding experience? The #TAinnovators have some ideas:

  • Assign every new hire a mentor;
  • Have that mentor work closely with HR;
  • Don’t treat new hires like just another number;
  • Ask them what they need to be successful in this position;
  • Give them some branded merch to welcome them;
  • And make sure to follow up with the assimilation in increments.

This Twitter chat just happened to occur on Halloween, so we decided to come up with the perfect “potion” for assessing talent. From all of your answers, our experience, and more, here is the recipe for the Getting to Know your Candidates Potion!:

  • 1 jar of open minds;
  • 4 special recruitment tools;
  • 1 dash of the perfect interview;
  • A pinch of social media analysis;
  • And bake at 350℉ for the rest of your recruitment process!

Q4. What are some red flags that you have found when getting to know candidates?

assessing talent

Now that you know how assessing talent can bring out the positive traits in potential candidates, you should be aware of some red flags. Not every person can be the right fit when on your talent search. What should you look for, regardless of your company culture?

Jim (@JKatzaman) knows that CVs can be exaggerated:

“Candidates not familiar with details in their resume is a waving red flag.”

Others focus on online presence to determine fit:

Bad social media profile behavior (or anything that doesn’t align with your company values).” (@TAinnovatorBeth)

However, this may be a breeding ground for biases. Social profiles aren’t always reflective of who the person really is. Approach this with caution. Kim (@ranavain) had some thoughts on this:

“What defines “bad” in this context? I feel like poking around on candidate social media often leads to people being eliminated for vague reasons like “this shows bad judgement” when, like, they’re drinking beer with friends, which is totally normal and not related to work!”


“(I don’t doubt that there *are* things you can find on social that directly show a misalignment of values, I just find that some 80% of the time, the reason is ultimately closer to hiring managers/recruiters being judgy about stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with the job)”.

We wonder if these “judgy” hiring managers and recruiters are perpetuation a culture of biased thoughts. However, if this is the current culture in which the employer operates, the social media profile-owner probably wouldn’t want to work with them anyway! Culture fit is a fickle thing; the culture needs to be established and positive in order for culture fits to enhance the company’s growth.

What do you think? Are social profiles enough for assessing talent? Do you use tools to automate hiring decisions? Tell us!

Join us on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. ET by following #TAinnovators!

#TAinnovators is a live chat that delves into the talent acquisition world and encourages discussion of trending recruitment topics. Follow
@Recruitee on Twitter for updates.

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