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How to Identify the Right Candidate

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In a labor market that’s seen unemployment rates hit a generational low while job openings reach a historic high, it’s been more difficult to find the talent you need. But because of those same reasons, it’s never been more important to find the right candidate.

“Hiring someone is a big decision, with long-term implications,” notes Aerotek Director of Business Operations Micah Woong. “You want to make sure you’re identifying candidates who have the best potential to be an asset to the company in the near- and far-term.”

No matter what, you take a risk on everyone you hire but hiring for “talent” versus “grit” can be a grave mistake. Grit, perseverance and character are statistically better indicators of success, but the challenge is conducting an interview that helps you identify these qualities.

Streamline the hiring process

The first step, he notes, is for the interviewer(s) to determine the most important traits they want to see. Much like in the sports world, he notes, “The ideal team player is humble, hungry and smart. Talent is one thing, but a better predictor of future success is often perseverance — how well someone has dealt with challenges and overcome obstacles in the past. Look for grit, progression and coachability.”

If your process includes an internal interview team, make sure you’re aligned. Outline the position you are hiring for, the job qualifications and ask that interviewers focus on three things — technical skills, progression and cultural fit. For those new to interviewing, have them shadow a senior team member with more experience so they can pass along any wisdom that might be helpful. Decide if you need the whole team to meet candidates or if they trust in the decision maker’s ability to bring the right talent on board.

The interview experience should be both effective and efficient for the hiring manager and the candidate. With employers competing aggressively for quality candidates, you want to make sure your organization doesn’t lose out by insisting on a long, drawn-out process. You should control the process and remove steps that don’t impact the hiring decision. 

Successful interviewing

When conducting the interview, you’ll want to make sure you answer certain questions based on what you see of their character:

  • Will they fit within your organization?
  • How do you think they will perform under pressure?
  • Will they take constructive criticism positively?

Make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of your company’s values and guiding principles to help you determine which additional questions or exercises will reveal the candidate’s skills and behaviors in relation to your goals.

A genuine dialogue that helps employers and candidates really get to know each other is one of the best interviewing tools, using questions about past experiences in a thoughtful way to establish an authentic connection and encourage discussion of core values and goals.

Once you’ve established a comfortable rhythm, you’re more likely to get substantial and informative replies to your questions. This provides a benefit to you as well as the job applicants, who will feel that their time was well spent and leave with a positive image of your company.

Conducting an effective interview is essential to minimizing the risk of a bad hire — and finding the best candidate to join you in helping your organization achieve its business goals.