How to Interview and Identify Top Candidates
Interview with an informed candidate at a Glassdoor Best Place to Interview Company

How to Interview and Identify Top Candidates

What makes a candidate stand out? What qualities do you look for? And what questions do you ask to uncover those qualities? These are some of the questions we posed to four Best Places to Interview winners, Cadence Design Systems, Cerner Corporation, Academy Sports + Outdoors and CDW. Turns out, they’ve all got it pretty buttoned up, and a positive response to their well-designed interviews shows up in their interview reviews on Glassdoor.

Here’s what they had to say about how to interview and identify top candidates…

How Cadence Design Systems interviews and identifies top candidates:

Cadence is a global electronic design automation company, providing software, hardware and intellectual property to design advanced semiconductor chips. The San Jose–based company has more than 7,000 employees across the globe. Interview reviews for Cadence are 86% positive, and they score 2.9 out of 5 for interview difficulty.

Evaluating top candidates.

“One of the important qualities I look for in a senior candidate is their enthusiasm about the opportunity. They may have the required experience and background, but I want to be able to see that they genuinely want to work for our company. We want to hire the candidate that has the experience and shows us why they want the job, not the candidate that just has the experience.” – Brian Abucay, Senior Recruiter, Cadence Design Systems

Best interview answer.

“The best interview answer I received was from a junior-level programmer answering a question about how to sort a vector of integers using C++ standard containers. Some candidates will pick the best and most efficient method from the start, and some will pick less efficient methods. However, this candidate explained several methods from worst efficiency to best efficiency while identifying all the performance complexity tradeoffs.” – Software Engineering Director, Cadence Design Systems

How Cerner Corporation interviews and identifies top candidates:

Cerner is a health information technology company based in Kansas City, Missouri with more than 25,000 employees around the globe. Interview reviews for Cerner are 74% positive, and they score 2.7 out of 5 for interview difficulty.

Look for informed candidates who connect to the mission.

“The best interview answer is always rooted in how a candidate connects to the mission of an organization. I work with a lot of clinicians who have a more tangible experience in how they are ‘making a difference’ but every role at Cerner contributes to our company’s mission to change health care. A candidate who believes their role — whatever it may be – is important always impresses me.”  - Heather Evans

“I expect a candidate to know about the company prior to the interview and be able to speak to it. With skills and qualities, I expect candidates to explain how they use their skills in specific relevant responses, not generalities.”  – Ashley Cowley, Senior Recruiting Partner & Team Lead, Cerner Corporation

Identify the attributes of success.

“No two candidates are the same, nor would we want them to be! Each candidate has their own unique personality, skill set, goals and potential. At Cerner we focus on key attributes like agility, accountability, innovation and collaboration that we believe are crucial to an associate’s success. A candidate that is able to articulate how they have displayed these attributes in the past and how they can bring these strengths to our culture at Cerner is a candidate that stands out above the rest.”  - Heather Evans, Senior Recruiting Partner, Cerner Corporation

How Academy Sports + Outdoors interviews and identifies top candidates:

Academy Sports + Outdoors is a sporting goods retailer headquartered in Texas with more than 230 locations and 23,000 employees across 16 states across the South, Southeast and Midwest. Interview reviews for Academy are 71% positive, and they score 2.0 out of 5 for interview difficulty.

Spot the candidates with passion.

“Candidates who display a great deal of passion about what they do really stand above the rest.” – Recruiting team, Academy Sports & Outdoors

How to identify best-fit candidates.

“The right balance between functional expertise and strong leadership ability; the right balance always depends on the needs of the role. Someone who is  vulnerable in the interview. Not just giving canned answers but someone who is honest and leads with humility and is relatable. High emotional intelligence and maturity; candidates who think strategically as opposed to reactively.” – Recruiting team, Academy Sports & Outdoors

How CDW interviews and identifies top candidates:

CDW is a leading multi-brand technology solutions provider to business, government, education and healthcare organizations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. A Fortune 500 company with multinational capabilities, CDW was founded in 1984 and employs nearly 8,800 coworkers. Interview reviews for CDW are 70% positive, and they score 2.9 out of 5 for interview difficulty.

Support candidates who go the extra mile.

“At a recent job fair a candidate beelined right up to the CDW booth and told me that he had driven across the entire city that morning (a 50 mile one-way ride) for the chance to sell himself face to face with CDW’s recruiting team. He had driven all that way just to apply for a position at CDW when he could have easily jumped online. His unique story and initiative demonstrated his drive and served as a great kickoff into our conversation.” – Colleen Flynn, Recruiter, CDW

Ask candidates how informed they are.

“At the beginning of my interviews I ask my candidates what they know about our organization. This question tells me if the job seeker is prepared for the phone interview and it demonstrates their level of interest in our organization. The best answers include information obtained from personal research such as a corporate website, media coverage, and even takeaways from coworkers within the company.”  – Colleen Flynn, Recruiter, CDW

An attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the candidate experience set the winners of our 2017 Best Places to Interview apart. These companies get that the interview process isn’t just about hiring to fill open positions – it’s an opportunity to put their best foot forward, ask discerning questions that surface the right candidate for the role, and showcase their culture from day one. A great interview process prepares candidates to succeed, keeps them in the loop throughout, and makes a positive impression on them as they leave, regardless of being made an offer or not. The result? A competitive advantage that can help you better attract and hire talent.

Want to learn more about what makes an interview experience great so you can attract and hire top talent?

Check out Glassdoor's guide on How to Conduct Better Job Interviews.