Top Strategies for Evaluating True Candidate Experience

Top Strategies for Evaluating True Candidate Experience
Last Updated: May 27, 2024

It’s getting harder to know whether a candidate actually has the experience they need. Why?

Resume writing services and artificial intelligence (AI) are helping candidates across the board to create high-quality, keyword-optimized resumes. Job titles are constantly changing and evolving, making it harder for hiring managers to know what past experience actually entailed.

And, in today’s competitive marketplace, it can be a real challenge for candidates to get hired—or even land an interview. In rare cases, some candidates may in desperation stretch their descriptions to sound more qualified for the job than they actually are. AI assistants can also “hallucinate” and include information that isn’t true.

How can you overcome this morass of information to determine the true professional experience of your candidates? Consider our tips below.

Google Them

Everyone has a “digital footprint”—that trail of data you leave behind as you use the internet. It is easier than you might think to use this breadcrumb trail to verify your candidate’s experience. All you need to do is a simple Google search.

In preparing this article, I Googled my own name to see what would come up. At the top of the list were my social media profiles, links to books I’ve written, and guest posts on various websites. First, let’s consider your candidate’s social media.

Social Media


A survey by CareerBuilder found that about 70 percent of employers use social media as a screening tool. What should you look for?

First, do they have a LinkedIn profile? Because LinkedIn is more career-focused, you will likely find the most important links and posts here. Look for certifications, publications, and endorsements.

What about other “just for fun” social media sites? These can help you get to know your candidate. What is important to them? You might discern this from pictures of their families, snapshots of accomplishments over the years, or recurring topics in their posts.

You can also use social media to identify any recurrent behaviors that may interfere with work responsibilities or clash with your company culture.

Personal Branding Beyond Social Media

Many candidates will have other Google hits besides social media. Look for personal websites, articles they’ve written, podcasts, books, YouTube channels, or news articles that mention them. Again, you can find both the good (such as expertise-establishing articles) and the bad (negative news reports, such as mugshot publishing).

Make Sure You’ve Got the Right Person

A word of caution—make sure the individual you’ve found online is the same as the one you’re considering. Most names are not entirely unique, and you may find many people by the same name. If you’ve met the person, does the photo match? Do any topics of interest add up? It would be unfair to judge your candidate by the actions of someone else, whether they are positive or negative.

Test Them Out

Skills assessments are a great way to determine a candidate’s actual skill level. You could test their knowledge by administering a written or computerized question-and-answer test, or you could observe them in a real-world problem-solving situation.

You might also consider including a trial period as part of the hiring process. In many industries, it is common for new hires to be “on probation” for a period of weeks or months. During this time, you can confirm that the candidate is able to do the job, get along well with fellow employees, and fit in with the company culture.

Call Their References

Today, providing or requesting references is often considered outdated. But it can truly be a window into the candidate’s past performance. Include a request for contacts as part of the application process.

When you call a reference, have in mind specific questions relevant to the position’s duties. For example, you might ask questions similar to the following:

  • Did the candidate use Adobe Photoshop [or any other software or tool relevant to the job] while working for you?
  • Is the candidate capable of working independently?
  • Was the candidate often late or absent from work?

Don’t Disregard Non-work Experiences

On-the-job experiences often hold a greater weight in employer’s estimation of their candidates than do experiences gained outside of work. While it’s true that candidates have likely spent more time on activities they’re paid to do, there are several reasons why you shouldn’t disregard experience gained through “extracurricular” activities.

When an individual has been self-motivated to learn a complex skill—coding or video editing, for example—this demonstrates a passion for the subject. 

Similarly, pursuits as entrepreneurs and freelance workers are often given less precedence. The fact is that these modes of work often require more time and commitment than traditional jobs. 

Key Takeaways

Determining the true experience of your candidates isn’t just helpful—it is imperative if you are to save the time and money of training an ill-prepared candidate. You can avoid falling victim to inflated resumes by conducting an online search, testing their skills, contacting references, and carefully weighing the value of non-work experiences.

Editorial Team
This article was written by Editorial a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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