Candidate evaluation: everything you need to know

Last updated:
March 30, 2023
March 30, 2023
min read
Brendan McConnell
candidate evaluation
Table of contents

Strategic and transparent candidate evaluation guarantees a fair hiring process and high hire quality. Statistics indicate that improving the quality of hire remains the top priority among recruitment professionals. Other recruiting priorities include increasing the retention rate, reducing time-to-hire, growing the talent pipeline, and hiring diversity. 

High-quality hires are more likely to be engaged in their roles and have better retention rates. This is crucial as employee engagement impacts productivity and profitability. According to research, the resignation of an entry-level employee can cost a company up to 50% of the worker's annual salary (costs of hiring and training a replacement and lost productivity until the new hire learns the ropes). The attrition costs increase for an employee higher up the ranks and can go up to 150%. 

Ideally, good retention maximizes profits even up to four times. Hence, optimizing the candidate evaluation process ensures you get high-quality candidates who are a perfect fit for your company.

What is candidate evaluation?

Candidate evaluation is the process of assessing a candidate's skills, qualifications, and experience to determine their suitability for an open role. There are multiple candidate assessment methods, including interviews, work sample tests, and reference checks. 

The process often involves multiple steps such as completing evaluation forms, scoring their qualifications, assessing their skills through exams or work sample tests, behavioral assessment, personality tests, social profile reviews, etc. No matter the evaluation approach you prefer, it should be fair to ensure all applicants get an equal opportunity.

What’s the benefit of candidate evaluation?

The overarching goal and benefit of evaluating candidates is to ensure that you hire the best one. That’s obvious. But what exactly does that entail?

There are numerous factors (or sub-goals) that contribute to this overall goal of “hiring the best talent”. These priorities work together to form the philosophy by which you evaluate candidates, and the desired effects you’re looking to achieve.

Some common goals of candidate evaluation include:

  • Enabling unbiased hiring decisions. People are inherently biased in how they judge other people and make decisions. Using techniques and processes that remove as much of this bias as possible should be a central goal of your candidate evaluations.
  • Providing a fair candidate experience. Evaluation is just one component of a great candidate experience. Making this experience a fair one involves numerous techniques working in tandem to ensure an overall positive association with your company.
  • Making recruitment more efficient. By this, we mean making the overall hiring process as quick and efficient as possible. This cuts down on waste for your recruitment team, but it also ensures that applicants get a straight answer as quickly as possible.
  • Effectively identifying the best hire in the applicant pool. This may seem like a no-brainer, but effectively identifying the best hire is a lot different than hiring who you think is the best candidate. Identifying who the best candidate really is takes a combination of evaluation techniques that in sum contribute to a fair process overall.

Each of the above goals is achieved through a series of screening and candidate relationship management techniques that make up your overall hiring process. If your goal is to ensure transparency and fairness, then you’ll need a clear set of techniques to make that a reality.

In the next section, we’ll take a look at some techniques you can incorporate into your hiring process to ensure transparent screening.

What are the five factors in evaluating candidates?

There are multiple criteria to consider when evaluating the right candidate for a position. But mainly, most recruiters consider five factors: experience, potential, hard skills, soft skills, and cultural fit. 


Experience is critical in determining a candidate's suitability for a role. Having a track record that validates their skills shows they can handle the job more competently. Experienced candidates can also lower your onboarding costs as they require less training than inexperienced ones. In addition, they acclimatize to the company much quicker, which can reduce the loss of productivity.   


Devoid of experience, candidate potential is the next factor you should look for in a good hire. They might have yet to demonstrate a track record in the role you're hiring for, but they have abilities that depict them as potentially high performers. For instance, a candidate who graduated at the top of their class, has held leadership positions throughout their schooling, or participated in activities demonstrating their zeal and commitment to tasks can show their potential in performing in your role.

Hard Skills

Hard skills refer to the practical knowledge a candidate has acquired through training either in school or past jobs. Having hard skills is necessary to demonstrate a candidate's ability to perform the job. Some jobs require specialized training, while others are more flexible on the training an applicant must possess.

Soft Skills 

Soft skills are hard to measure but equally important to succeed in the role. Every position requires a unique combination of soft skills based on the job demands. For instance, one needs good leadership or problem-solving skills to succeed in a managerial role. On the other hand, a role in marketing or human resources demands excellent communication skills and so forth.  

Cultural Fit

Culture changes from one organization to another. Even teams within an organization can have different cultures. The candidate should be able to fit into the company or team culture to thrive in their role. For instance, some positions require team collaboration, while others favor working individually. 

Defining your culture allows you to attract and identify talent highly likely to align with your work mode. An employee who fits into your culture well will be happier, which boosts engagement and retention.

How to evaluate candidates 

Having seen the benefits of candidate evaluation and factors to prioritize when hiring, let's discuss how you should go about the process. 

Mainly, the process can be broken down into three steps – before, during, and after the interview.

Before the interview

  • Prepare evaluation standards – Set up evaluation standards that you will use to assess all candidates for inclusive hiring. 
  • Create and publish a mandate for diversity. Fair candidate evaluations focus on finding the best candidate, regardless of background or demographics. As such, taking a deliberate approach to ensuring diversity in your organization is critical to fairly evaluating candidates. Many of the most successful companies in the world have gone to great lengths to ensure diversity, and many have held themselves accountable by openly publishing their policies.
  • Pre-screen – Determine the specific qualities you're looking for in an ideal candidate, e.g., education, years of experience, specific skills, culture fit, etc. Create a process for writing job descriptions and ads. This often includes assembling a hiring team to establish an accurate list of job requirements by committee. These job requirements are then used to create an ideal candidate persona and corresponding recruitment ads that appeal to that type of person. Taking the time to get your requirements and ads right will help ensure that you’re not encouraging the wrong people to apply out of the gate.
  • Shortlist and screen – Create fair and consistent shortlisting parameters. Based on those job requirements, you should clearly lay out what candidates must have to make it past the first cut. Shortlisting candidates often involves automated parsing of resumes based on keywords. Being uncertain about what you’re looking for can result in unfairly removing qualified candidates from your candidate pool.

During the interview

  • Use an interview scorecard – Scorecards standardize the evaluations. After the interview, you can use the scorecard to review a candidate's performance and measure it against others. Use structured interviews and targeted questioning. Likewise, you must have clearly established parameters for how you intend to interview candidates. What types of questions are you going to ask? How are you going to measure and compare the answers? Interviewing each candidate differently will make it nearly impossible to evaluate them objectively. Instead, use a structured approach to your interviews that uses targeted questions that relate directly to your job requirements. Ask all candidates the same questions, in the same order, and evaluate them based on a standardized scorecard.
  • Take notes – In addition to filling/marking the scorecard, you should take note of other observations you make during the interview. 
  • Observe behavior – A candidate's behavior can shed light on their communication skills or level of interest in the position, besides other qualities critical for success in the role.
  • Use quantitative testing – Job and personality tests that use objective measurement techniques are a great way to ensure fair candidate assessment. These might be tests that focus on personality, cognitive ability, or job function. Use these results to build out your candidate profiles. This will help guide you towards a more objective decision in the end.

After the interview

  • Evaluate after the interview – Complete the scorecard and finish writing the notes immediately after the interview. Based on your impression of their performance, you can tell whether they're a highly desirable, potential, or not potential candidate. 
  • Adopt a collaborative approach to hiring. Create a hiring team that will be in charge of evaluating the results of your screening activities. This might include interviews with each hiring team member, a collaborative review of job tests, or a decision-by-committee approach to making final hiring decisions. Taking the final say out of the hands of the individual, and giving that power to the group will help to ensure that your hiring decisions are fair, transparent, and in line with your company values.
  • Compare candidates – After interviewing all the candidates, use the scorecards, notes, and files to compare their performance and make a choice. 

Bonus tip: Openly communicate at each stage of the process. Transparency means telling candidates what to expect at the start of the application process, keeping them informed throughout, and notifying them of the outcome. Failing to do so creates a veil of uncertainty around your hiring process that can result in a feeling of unfairness in the applicants. Create a communication process, and implement the proper tools to ensure that you’re keeping each candidate informed at critical stages of the hiring process.

Setting yourself up for success in candidate evaluations

Creating a clear mandate and set of practices that guide daily workflows will help ensure that your transparent candidate evaluation policy is sustainable. Again, setting yourself up for success comes down to the right planning and a dedication to your established processes.

Here are some ways you to ensure fair and transparent candidate evaluations for the long haul:

  • Set the right expectations from the start.
  • Source in the right places.
  • Share and adhere to hiring timelines.
  • Brief candidates on the process.
  • Train your employees on fair interviewing techniques.
  • Create a culture of open feedback.
  • Use automation tools to ensure objective shortlisting.

Candidate evaluation processes come in many different shapes and sizes, depending on the company and the position in question. Techniques and philosophies will inevitably vary depending on the organization.

What is consistent, however, is that job seekers want to feel like they’ve been treated fairly. Delivering on that will help your company establish itself as a fair and desirable employer, which will undoubtedly result in more and better talent knocking on your door.

Getting started with fair and transparent candidate evaluation

Fair and transparent candidate evaluation guarantees objective and compliant hiring processes. In addition, it allows you to improve hire quality for higher employee engagement and retention. Other notable benefits of candidate evaluation include higher productivity, increased efficiency, and overall superior candidate experience. 

Effective candidate evaluation, however, requires careful pre-screening. You identify the selection criteria beforehand to get the most qualified candidates without taking them through the lengthy interview process, which can be costly. Some of the basic factors to consider during pre-screening include experience, potential, hard skills, soft skills, and cultural fit.   

Of course, to conduct candidate evaluations successfully, you need the support of good recruitment software to power the process. For instance, you can rely on Recruitee for fair assessments. Our solution allows you to evaluate candidates in a structured and fair process to get the most qualified. From automating your pre-screening process with knockout questions to quick evaluation questions for the actual assessment, we have designed Recruitee to power an efficient evaluation.

Try Recruitee for free for unbiased hiring

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