Identifying the Perfect Candidate

 

Your business will rise and fall on the quality of your employees.

Yet, the hiring process can make it difficult to find the right person for the job. If you’re not sure what look for, you can wind up with a candidate that seems perfect but, in reality, can’t do the job well.

Here are seven tips to help you separate the gold from the dross:

  1. Start by truly understanding the job.
    Know what experience, knowledge, and skills are essential to the position. This includes both “hard” requirements like a bachelor’s degree in economics or a CDL license, but it also includes harder-to-measure requirements such as professionalism and the ability to interact with vendors or clients.
  2. Eliminate candidates that don’t meet the job’s hard requirements first.
    There’s a good chance that the ambitious genius who dropped out of business school after two years could indeed bring your company to the top of your industry. There’s also a chance that he’s not particularly motivated and will try to get by doing as little as possible. It’s an employer’s market right now, so you have the luxury of filtering out applicants that don’t meet the job’s basic requirements.
  3. Take a closer look at those candidates who provide consistent results.
    A candidate that claims to have “developed a project tracking system that improved the company’s time to production by 20%” is a better potential candidate than the one who claims to have “worked in project management.” You want candidates that have provided consistent results. Perhaps moreover, you want candidates who are results-aware, and will do what they can to help your company experience results, too.
  4. Narrow the field to a dozen applicants, and then pass them around to others in your organization.
    If you have time, get input from other managers about those candidates’ resumes. Pull your team together and go through the resumes one at a time. You’ll be surprised just how many warning flags you may have missed that your tea or that other managers might be able to identify. This process should reduce your stack by another 50% or so.
  5. Develop a truly useful interview process.
    The interview process favors candidates who have the ability to sell themselves. You need to find ways to also award candidates who may do a stellar job, but who don’t have the tongue for self-promotion. One way to do this is by working through sample scenarios. Discuss an actual problem faced in your department recently, and ask the candidate how they would address the problem. You’re not looking for line-by-line solutions; rather, you’re looking for fluency in your field and you’re looking for an effective problem-solving approach from the candidate.
  6. Consider a multi-level and multi-stage interview.
    You need to get a feel for how the candidate will function as a part of your team, so you need to give them the opportunity to meet the team. This also lets you have an opportunity to get feedback from the team as to the candidate’s appropriateness. And, while your boss may not have many dealings with the candidate on a day-to-day basis, getting his impression of the candidate can help
  7. Be diligent about references and background checks.
    There’s only so much you can get from a reference. Many former employers will be hesitant to say more than whether or not the individual was actually employed there. In some cases, you might ask the candidate to provide letters of reference. Background checks serve an equally important purpose. In some industries, the background check may be an absolute necessity for compliance reasons, too.

The recruiting and subsequent interview processes aren’t perfect. There will be times when a candidate looks and feels right, but in the end they just don’t perform. When that happens, you need to be ready to let them go and start from scratch.

By following these principles, however, you’ll reduce the chance of that happening.

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