How to Evaluate Job Candidates for Long-term Employee Retention

Jun 21, 2023

The recruitment landscape has evolved considerably during the last few years, as rapid employment shifts throughout the pandemic kept changing the game. With workers continuing to leave jobs in high numbers, it has never been more important for organizations to understand how to hire for employee retention. Being able to identify the best fits for a company’s roles, teams, and culture and understanding candidates on a deeper level can make the difference between success and failure.


4 Lenses for Assessing Candidates

Organizations that want to hire for retention should keep four key factors in mind as they evaluate candidates.

Behaviors (“how”). When used by trained interviewers, behavior-oriented questions can reveal quite a bit about how a person will behave in a given situation. Typically starting with “Tell me about a time when . . .” or “Give me an example of . . .” these questions are fairly traditional, and most recruiters have a good understanding of how to interpret candidates’ responses.

Motivators and values (“why”). Each person’s motivators are generally hidden from others, and candidates often do not know how to articulate them in an interview. A failure to understand a candidate’s motivators can be costly and painful for everyone if an organization hires someone who is driven by internal values that are polar opposites of the values held by the rest of the team. In those cases, that “great new hire” may head right back out the door.

Work energizers (“what”). Everyone wants to do work that energizes them and wants people on their teams who are productive and engaged. Those responsible for filling the talent pipeline also know how much better it is to retain a great employee than to go find a new one. Therefore, in addition to filling jobs with external candidates, companies need to be intentional about internal mobility and develop opportunity pathways for current employees. When leaders understand the type of work and the environment that energizes their employees and candidates, they can optimize teams, hire for retention, and fill even the most challenging-to-staff open roles.

Life priorities (“now”). A candidate’s life priorities can help hiring managers understand the things that are most important to them at this point in their life and career. Are personal development or achievement key priorities? What about their need for social interaction and belonging? When hiring managers know the answers to these questions and those answers align with the available opportunity, they can walk a candidate through why they’re a good fit for the role.


Focus on Culture

The best approach to hiring for retention is to focus on culture fit—an often-neglected candidate qualification. Hiring someone just because the manager likes them is no longer sufficient: it’s important to dig deeper and find the kind of talent fit that can last. Infusing interviews with psychometrics assessments can yield valuable information about a candidate’s behavioral strengths and weaknesses as well as their ability to adjust to situations at work. Managers can identify candidates’ key motivators and values, as well as uncover the kind of work that energizes them.

In order to assess and hire candidates for culture fit, an organization must first evaluate its current team and create a current profile of the team’s culture as well as a target profile. With this information in hand, hiring managers use psychometric assessments to create each candidate’s profile, draw on benchmarks to assess their future success in the role, examine similarities and complements between each candidate and the team, and identify the candidate who will make the most significant positive impact. Hiring in a way that allows the company to achieve its target and the best balance of the behaviors, motivators, and work styles for the team in which the role resides is hiring for fit and managing culture by intention.


Recruitment and employee retention won’t get easier any time soon. Organizations need a better, more effective approach for evaluating their applicants. By evaluating candidates through the lenses of behaviors, motivators, values, work energizers, and life priorities, companies will make selections that strengthen their teams and fill gaps—and have more success in hiring for retention.

Written by: Juan Betancourt

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