Over the last two years, the global economy has started to bounce back from a recessive period. While the Canadian employment rate hasn’t hit pre-recession rates yet, things are headed in a decidedly upward direction.

That being said, the realities of a down-on-your-luck job market have left behind some lingering side effects, most notably, a phenomenon called the canned interview.

Coached to Death:The Art of getting ‘Real’ Responses from Candidates

Nothing brings out our competitive side quite like a drought in the job market. Before long, every prospect has an elevator pitch and everyone’s polishing up that perfect first impression. These are the survival skills we know.


The truth is that, even when they become less necessary and the job market starts to improve, it can be difficult to call off the attack dogs we’ve grown so familiar with. From a hiring manager’s perspective, it can be even more difficult to penetrate this expertly built facade and get to the heart of the matter: is this person the best fit for the job?


The answer to this question has to come down to more than interview skills. These days giving a strong interview is the equivalent to performing well on a standardized test. A candidate can have the experience, dazzle you with their energy and enthusiasm and appear to have all the ‘right’ moves; it’s only once they settle into their new position that you realize all may not be as it seemed.


To get the player you’re actually looking for, your search needs to be fueled by what can’t be found on a resume or produced with practice. Start with looking at the role’s predecessor (if possible) and what makes him/her successful or unsuccessful.


The Keys to the Kingdom: How to Hire Effectively

This starting point may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many hiring managers forego giving much consideration to the position they are trying to fill.


It’s an easy oversight. The hiring process is one duty among many, it’s easy to handle it in a cookie cutter fashion and forget that there is value in the process.


Your former employee can be your biggest asset when figuring out the traits you’ll need most from new hires. Think about what they brought to the table, did well, and how that benefited the company. Use that list of traits for a hiring blueprint and the blueprint to structure better interview skills.


Instead of asking a standard list of questions, construct behavioural questions that uncover how the different candidates respond to scenarios relevant to the position. I.e. Tell me about a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventative measures. 


Pay attention for qualities that match your blueprint. Remember too, that your needs change over time. Never interview a potentially new employee using an outdated job description. Update the description while you’re making the hiring blueprint, so that everything compliments the current trajectory of the company.


Lastly, don’t underestimate uncommon strengths like potential and adaptability. As the economy continues to recover, finding employees who can roll with the punches can be far more valuable than experience alone. Talent assessment tools are a worthwhile investment when evaluating behavioural traits and personality. They’ll give you an objective look into a candidate’s “default settings” that you might not spot in an interview.


Don’t just set up interview pins in a certain pattern and watch them get knocked down; unexpected tactics can lead you to exceptional team members.