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3 simple but crucial questions when recruiting

Only 3 questions count in recruiting: can they do the job? Do they want the job? Do they want the job right now?

September 29, 2020
Yuma Heymans
September 7, 2022

In recruiting there are 3 things to know about a candidate:

  1. Can they do the job?
  2. Do they want the job?
  3. Do they want the job right now?

1. Can they do the job?

This question is about the skills of the candidate.

Do they master the skills required for the execution of the role? Do they master those skills at the required level?

Skills are usually present on the candidate’s profile. But to really know if the candidate got what it takes further assessment is needed to make a hiring decision.

Ways of assessing skills:

Standard skills assessment

This is a skills assessment that gives the candidate an assignment that other candidates also get.

This assessment can be a multiple choice test for industry knowledge or for example a coding test for software developers

Challenge (or case)

A challenge is a one time assignment in which the candidate solves a problem related to the hiring company.

This can be for example a previous challenge that the business encountered with  a clear description of what the problem was and the question to the candidate how they would have solved it.

The proposed solution and the ability of the candidate to communicate the proposed solution is reviewed and given a score or go/no go.

Temporarily (paid) assignment

Some companies give candidates short real life engagements to work with the company to solve a current problem or work on a real life project.

Since these assignments can be quite demanding and actually include deliverables for the company they are usually paid. They are very similar to freelance engagements.

Based on the results or performance of the candidate they are hired permanently or not.

2. Do they want the job?

This question is about the personality and motivation of the candidate.

A question that is a bit harder to answer completely objectively, since personality and motivation are dependent on a lot of variables since it is very much linked to the complex and rather ambiguous field of psychology.

Ways of assessing personality and motivation:

Personality assessment

Personality assessments are aimed at measuring the candidates characteristics, beliefs, and preferences.

Many personality assessments are based on famous models like The Big Five which tests people on openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.


Interviews are a great way to get an idea of how someone is and behaves.

You see how people react to questions, if they show curiosity and how they communicate.

The drawback of interviews can be that they have a subjective nature and therefore can be biased and sensitive to circumstances.

There are many different types of interviews, like structured and unstructured, one on one and group interviews, and informed and spontaneous interviews.

3. Do they want the job right now?

This question is about the timing of the job opportunity and the desire (or necessity) of the candidate to switch jobs.

From a candidate perspective, there are many things to consider in regard to when to make a new move.

This can be about motivations ranging from financial to psychological to ambition.

Some candidates are desperate to find something right now (because of very divergent reasons) and others are fine at the moment and have all the time.

Guess which one gives the candidate a stronger negotiation position ;)

Ways of assessing timing:


The most straight forward way to learn if a candidate is ready for the move, is to simply ask about their situation and needs.

Pre-screen on timing factors

A bit more complicated way of determining the right timing for candidates is to use prediction models based on data analytics to estimate the likelihood of a candidate switching jobs.

Usually this is done based on profile and online activity data and if candidates seem to be likely to be open for a new job, the candidate is reached out to.

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