The consensus amongst talent leaders is that screening for soft skills is beyond challenging, with over 60% of them ranking it foremost on their list of obstacles. Searching through a candidates’ bag of skills and comparing them to a benchmark to find the right fit may not always be a smooth ride.

Even less so if your interview process is plagued by scripted questions and monotonous conversations. In fact, candidates are more likely to underperform when your interview with them sounds and feels like a hundred others.

It’s time to break out of the rut of tradition and put on your creative shoes. Let’s take a look at 7 of the most engaging interview components that you can leverage in your next candidate assessment.

Dive into their career

While some common questions won’t hurt, you eventually want to personalize an interview to get the most accurate picture of who a candidate is. Picking a project, role or achievement from their work history is a good place to begin.

Talk about what they did, how they did it, what they had to overcome and what they would do differently. This shows that you’ve done your homework and care about the person sitting in front of you for who they are.

For the research portion, here’s a few helpful tips to get started:

  • Have a standard research framework to follow with all candidates.
  • LinkedIn is usually your best bet to learn more about their prior experience, unless a portfolio is provided
  • If you see any inconsistencies, give the candidate a chance to clear them up without coming across as confrontational.

Focus on their strengths

Instead of hitting candidates where it hurts the most, keep the conversation centered on what they do best. After all, if you want to understand how they’d perform on the job, you’ll want to replicate the kind of environment they’d work in. Instead of assigning them a random task they aren’t equipped to handle, give them something they excel in. Your goal is to help candidates show the best version of themselves in a short window. No one wins when you try to highlight their weaknesses in the name of improvement.

Involve them in a team activity

Once you get past the preliminary stage of an interview heading in the right direction, invite the candidate to a team activity. But make sure the activity involves people they’d be working with. How does this help? It gives you crucial insights about the candidate such as:

  • How they interact socially with potential peers and coworkers
  • Potential dynamics that might be a problem
  • Candidates’ natural personality instead of a rehearsed mask
  • Candidate emotional and psychological qualities
  • Culture fit, team ethic and role adjustment

Do a VR activity together

Every employer worth their salt claims to be a tech-friendly workplace. It’s time to show that your company means it. A VR assessment is more fun than a traditional Q&A session and is better at identifying behavioral and psychological traits. Here’s everything that a VR activity during the interview process can include:

  • Workplace tour to help candidates visualize themselves amidst the infrastructure and culture of your company
  • Skill assessments such as placing candidates in varying environments and asking them to solve puzzles
  • Immersive job preview without the risk of sharing sensitive or classified information

Flip the interview switch

While it’s fairly common for interviewers to ask all the questions, when was the last time you heard of a candidate taking the lead? They might have all the skills you’re searching for, but allowing candidates to ask questions can help you identify whether they’re ready for the responsibility. This is particularly helpful for managerial interviews where the mindset of the candidate takes precedence over nearly every other factor.

Do a walking tour

Break the rut and put your candidate in an interview environment that is refreshing for both of you. An interview during a walking tour of the office or campus, with a lunch or coffee break added to the mix, places candidates in a more informal setting where they can speak freely.

Moreover, it gives your candidate a glimpse of the workplace vibe, the office environment and the people working there. To top it all off, the sheer spontaneity of an interview is bound to catch the candidate off guard, helping you tap into their more natural self.

Solve a real business problem

Give candidates a taste of what it feels like to be part of your company. Involve them in a live meeting or brainstorming session that their hiring manager is working on. While this method comes with security concerns that have to take precedence over being innovative, being able to do so removes the hypothetical aspect of the assessment.

Which of these interview methods have you tried in the past? Let us know in the comments below!