It’s that time of year again, when companies and their employees start looking forward to the Holiday Office Party Season – and it all begins with Halloween. The folks in Human Resources have just as much fun as any other kids when it comes to dressing up, trick-or-treating, and eating candy, but have you ever noticed the other similarities between Halloween and recruiting?

First, think about the wonderful costumes that the kids get all dressed up in to go around the neighborhood soliciting candy. When your doorbell rings and you open the door, you can’t help but be delighted by the outfits that so many creative children (and so many helpful parents) worked so hard to put together. You gladly drop a few pieces of candy into the kids’ trick-or-treat bags, compliment them on their costumes, and say good-bye… But then, there’s that one kid who rings your doorbell… and isn’t wearing a costume. Honestly, it’s a little sad when the kids don’t dress up for Halloween.

It’s a bit like a job candidate who isn’t thoughtful enough to figure out how to dress for an interview. As much as we try to remain impartial, we can’t help but be disappointed – or perhaps disapproving – when someone shows up for a job interview dressed inappropriately. And again, if we are being honest (and we are), that person is probably not going to get the job – just like that kid who is not dressed for Halloween is not going to get as much candy as the kids who took the time and thought to put themselves together.

Here’s another comparison between Halloween and recruiting – the treasure, the sought-after prize. As children go door-to-door collecting candy and other treats, they put them in their goody bags to be examined later. Upon returning home, the children (usually with their adults) pour the candy out onto a flat surface and begin the rigorous process of sorting, analyzing, and categorizing the haul. Candy is collected and evaluated – just like applicants.

Once a recruiter posts a job, the recruiter has to wait for prizes, too. Most recruiters use several sources to advertise open positions, and as the applicants begin to come in from multiple areas, they are collected and placed in one spot, much like the candy in the trick-or-treat bucket. Later, the hiring team sorts through and evaluates the candidates. Some pieces of Halloween candy are thrown out, mostly due to personal preferences and tastes. Similarly, once the contents of the recruiter’s candidate goody bag is examined, some candidates are screened out or eliminated for a number of reasons, but again, mostly because of preferences and tastes.

For trick-or-treaters, there is no way to examine the candy before it goes into the Halloween goody bag, but being able to do that would save parents a lot of time and worry. Luckily, in recruiting there is a way to screen and eliminate undesirables before they go into the recruiter’s candidate goody bag.

Skill assessments are the screening tool that can save a ton of time and money in recruiting talent. There’s no extra burden in using them – skill assessments can be administered during the application and they can be tailored to fit with your hiring process.

Top companies who are known for their attention to detail in recruitment and talent acquisition, such as Zappos!, have reported that using assessments improved their employee development plans and lowered the training times for new hires from four weeks to just one week. Orvis is another company that’s seen a positive trend in their interviewing and hiring. For example, since using assessments, Orvis has seen positive results in time-to-hire, which dropped 50%. And the quality of new hires has improved so much that the company has been able to place some new staff into leadership roles immediately.

This Halloween, before you go “trick or treating” for new talent, use assessments with your recruiting process to help ensure only the best candidates are in your goody bag.

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and expert resume writer with more than 13 years of experience as a former practitioner and current HR consultant. He is the curator of two websites: and , and contributes HR-focused content to many others, including and . He has been listed by the Huffington Post as one of the “Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts to Follow on Twitter”, one of the “Top 40 under 40” by the HR Blogger Network, one of the “25 Must-Read HR Blogs in 2013”, and also featured on He is very active with the Society of Human Resource Management, working closely with conference directors, communication chairs, and social media teams from Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee to develop social strategies to engage attendees and enhance their conference experience. Chris earned his master’s degree in Labor and Human Resources from Ohio State University. In 2005, he moved back to his hometown of Memphis, TN, where he has developed a reputation for helping his clients create HR strategies, and individuals master the tough economic challenges of the South.


  • Avatar Martha H. says:

    There are many aspects of HR that are similar to Halloween. We’ve all experienced the chaotic but funny part of recruiting. We have to remember people are unique, even when hunting for a job, and in the numbers we can always find some interesting and awesome people we would love to hire. Or not. 

  • Avatar Nicole S. says:

    We all wish for a bag filled with candidates when we advertise for a job opening, and I am sure the applicants hope that we come up with an offer only the best Halloween candies can match. While the outside wrapping may be disappointing, the filling might be the best we ever had. And that is why skills testing is such an amazing tool when selecting the right candidate for a job. Don’t judge a candy by its cover. 

  • Avatar Lindsay K. says:

    Recruiters are indeed like children when opening their bag of candidates, always hoping to have caught the best of them all. It is still a bit sad that we judge by appearance, but we are human. As we’ve all experienced as kids, we hope the candies will last forever, at least until next Halloween, but as recruiters we can’t afford to wait that long to know if a candidate is right for a job. Skills tests reduce that sampling time, and this will definitely help bring the company great talent and make everyone happy.  

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