How to Assess Candidate Skills (Real Estate Skill Tests)

You just met with a fantastic candidate for about an hour, the resume is perfect, and they said all the right things. So, what's your next step?

Today we're talking about a critical step in every interview process that far too many people skip over and this is the skill assessment interview. There is no set of interview questions and no online skill test that can compare to putting a candidate at their future desk and having them do some real-world assignments. In today's blog post we are going to talk about how to structure those assignments and some best practices around testing candidates for real estate assistant positions.

Why Conduct a Skill Assessment Interview?

A skill assessment interview is a chance for your candidate to sit in their future seat, assess what a day in the life in the office is going to be like, and do some real work to demonstrate that they really can do the things that they say they can do. The reason this is so important is that just because a candidate was a real estate assistant for a broker down the street, does not mean that they know how to do the job that you expect them to do, at the level that you expect them to do it.

In addition to testing that they have the skills that they need to have to do the job, these skills assessment interviews give you a chance to assess whether this person is a good fit for your office as a whole.

Are they messy, are they easily distracted, are they on their phone, are they asking good questions? Do they problem solve on their own, do they seem proactive?

There is so much information that you can gather by giving a candidate some real-world assignments while they sit in your office, so do not miss this step.

What kind of an assignment should you give them? It depends on the job at hand. In this post, we will focus on your typical real estate assistant position.

For most real estate assistant roles, candidates need to understand the real estate sales process, have some basic contract knowledge, good tech skills and know how to use the typical real estate technology like the MLS and ZipForms and social media. They need to have excellent writing skills.

No matter what position you're trying to fill, you need to test your candidates' ability to write and assess whether they write at the level that you expect. At Pro R.E.A. Staffing we have candidates take the DISC Behavioral assessment and then write a brief essay responding to their results. We want to know what they agree with and what they disagree with and why. This is the first step in our validation process of the DISC, but this simple assignment tells us so much about a candidate.

First, we get to learn a little bit more about them and what makes them tick. We get to evaluate their spelling and grammar skills. We also assess how they present their work and we get to learn more about their creativity and professionalism by how they respond to the prompt. And finally, we always set a deadline when we give an assignment and we see whether or not they can meet deadlines.

Asking a candidate to talk about their DISC may not be the appropriate assessment for you, but you might have them write a proper description.

Here is an example of a multi-step skill assessment that you can give a candidate who will be responsible for managing your listing process.

Have a candidate prepare you for a listing presentation.

Listing Appointment Skill Test


Another assignment could be to market your new listing.


Listing Marketing Skill Test

For more ideas, check out this article.

You can get creative with your assessments but make sure that they are entirely relevant to the job and use the same assignments for every candidate that you test so that you can compare candidates.

Now what if you're hiring somebody who is fresh out of college or is transitioning from another industry and they don't know how to pull comps or write a contract? You can still test their writing skills and their computer skills, and you can teach them something that they don't know how to do and see if they're able to catch on and complete the task. This is critical because you want to know whether the way they learn matches the way you communicate and you want to see, do they take notes, do they ask good questions, and what do they do when they are stuck? I encourage you to tell candidates to research if they don't know how to do something that you ask them to do. Tell them that it's okay for them to go figure it out and see how resourceful they are.

Skill Assessment vs. Working Interview

Here is a typical scenario that you may have done, or you might have heard someone recommend.

The hiring manager has a candidate that they think they like and they want to test them out. They tell the candidate, "I'll pay you $100 if you'll come in and work for half a day or a full day, and we'll see how it goes". So the candidate comes into the office, they answer phones, they send emails, they do real work for that day and at the end of the day the employer says, "I'm sorry, this isn't gonna be a good fit, thank you very much, here's $100, goodbye."

What that hiring manager did is considered tax fraud by both the IRS and the Employment Development Department and it's a big no-no. If you have a candidate do real work or for example, if you have them write a property description and you use that description then the law says that you have to:

Working Interview

And then at the end of the day, you have to terminate them. That's a huge has, and it opens you up to liability.

Test candidates' skills as skill assessments and then when you hire them, make sure that your employment agreement includes an at-will clause. You can terminate your employee at any time for any reason, so don't go through all that nonsense until you are 99.9% sure that they are the right person for the job. So there you have it, that's how to test candidates for what you expect to verify that they really do have the skills and abilities to do the job that you're hiring for.

If you found this article helpful I highly recommend that you check out my video on the DISC Behavioral assessment and how to use that assessment during your interview process.