How can you trust the candidate without meeting them in person?

This is the first in a 3 part series of blogs written as a tool for you to use during busy times when an in-person meeting is impossible. This tool will help you identify trustworthy candidates you cannot meet in person. The purpose is to reduce your anxiety about making a good choice. While there are no perfect candidates, there are plenty of strong, honest performers.

Let’s first examine what trust is and isn’t. Trust is an attribute, a feeling, and is essential to all successful relationships. Think back to when someone you know violated your trust and how hard it was for you to trust them again. Webster defines trust as the “Firm belief in the reliability, trust, ability or strength of someone or something.” Trust is also considered an emotional state, not solely an expectation of someone’s capability. Trust is an intangible asset and the glue of lasting relationships. Likely, the most difficult truth about trust is that it is an abstract mental attitude toward a proposition that someone is dependable ( a perception that is hard to control or manage). So, if trust is nebulous and a bit ethereal in substance, how can you know and measure trust in someone you do not know and have only experienced via video meeting or phone?

It is critical to your company’s success that you bring in trustworthy people who can work well with others. This will ensure the highest levels of productivity and success for you. After all, you cannot get as far as you want without great people on the team.

Behavioral interviewing is commonly applied to address trust in a candidate – but what happens when you are not in the same room and cannot read the silent cues? What you are looking for in a candidate is the assurance that the candidate can and will do what they promise. Here is a list of questions to explore that can help you assess the trustworthiness of a candidate. It is very important to verify their responses. One way is to verify their answers with their references to validate whether the candidate has performed as they say.

Has the candidate met or exceeded expectations and goals in past roles?

Does the candidate have a history of following through on verbal and written commitments?

Do you feel good about this person as a person?

Why do you feel good about this person?

Does this person have a history of creating strong, positive relationships?

Is the candidate paying attention to what you are asking, are they comprehending, are they asking clarifying questions or repeating your question to make sure they understand?

Is the candidate paying attention to what is important to you and what you want to accomplish?

As you can see, you are looking for depth of character and ability to deliver on what you need to have accomplished, work well within your team, and express solid communication skills. Listening and clarifying are very important to show that they desire to deliver and are likely trustworthy.

Laura Raynak is an executive search consultant with over 20 years of experience helping companies hire the right management team the first time. She specializes in hiring CEOs and vice president candidates for life science, medical devices, and consumer health companies. You may contact her at