10 Actionable Tips for Finding the Perfect Candidate

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The hiring process can be hard on everyone – including employers. There are all sorts of challenges you may encounter when trying to find the ideal candidate for a role, so everyone can use some advice. Here are 10 tips for finding the perfect candidate for your vacant role.

Don’t dismiss resumes

We’ve all heard the stories – recruiters who hardly glance at resumes and throw them in the trash at random or if they don’t like your name, your face, your age, etc. It’s every candidate’s nightmare to send in hundreds of resumes, wondering if they’re all sitting at the bottom of a drawer somewhere because the recruiter dismissed them on sight.

Don’t be that recruiter; while some things are definite deal-breakers, not every single imperfect thing needs to be a reason to eliminate a candidate. Try to look at the bigger picture, instead of nitpicking at the details. Are they qualified for the job? Do they seem professional? Are their references positive? Then perhaps you can forgive the small printing mistakes.

If you want to find the perfect person for the job, you’ll have to be able to overlook some things and keep an open mind. What if you discounted an ideal candidate completely just because you don’t like where they went to school?

Define the job clearly

Believe it or not, a successful recruiting process begins way before candidates even send in their resumes; it starts when you write the post advertising your job vacancy. You see, this needs to be as clear as possible and as specific as possible if you want the right people to apply.

If you’re too broad, vague, or lack focus, two things will happen: you will get a lot of resumes that don’t fit the profile at all, and valuable candidates will dismiss the job. The more detailed you are in your descriptions and the better you define it, the better your chances are of attracting the right people and finding your ideal employee.

For example, instead of saying that you’re looking for someone to carry out “administrative duties”, consider specifying exactly what you need them to do: filing, making phone calls, creating spreadsheets, making reservations, scheduling meetings, organizing lunches, etc. That will give candidates a clear picture and they will be able to visualize what a workday would look like.

Advertise the company well

When you’re looking to attract valuable, amazing talent, you’ll want to make the company sound as good as possible. A lot of employers make the mistake of leaving all the effort to the candidate when in reality, the company has to put in some effort when putting out the job post. Imagine you’re writing a CV for the company, just like the candidates are writing their own. This process is a mutual search, and each side wants to make sure that they end up with the best prospect available.

So, the kind of candidate you attract will very much depend on how you present the company – it’s not just the role that counts. A well-written, detailed, respectful, attractive post that, makes the workplace, as well as the role, sound exciting and fulfilling will catch the attention of valuable, experienced, serious candidates. So, pull out all the stops: if the pay is good, include it. If there is a possibility for working from home because the job is online, mention it. Anything can set you apart in a positive way.

Include a job trial/day at the office

Okay, so let’s say that you’ve gone through the interview process and you’ve got some candidates that have interviewed amazingly and you want to hire them. Not so fast – why not bring them in for a job trial or a day at the office? A lot of companies are including this type of practical trial in their interview process, and it’s enjoying great success.

We’ll tell you why: this is an excellent opportunity for the candidate to get to know the company and the environment they’ll be working in first-hand. That will give them a better idea of whether or not this is the right place for them. More importantly, this is your chance to see them in action and see how they perform on a typical task on the job, and how they do under pressure: are they doing alright, or is it too much for them?

Sometimes, you’ll be surprised to see that candidates who interviewed beautifully completely fail the practical aspect of the interview. Other times, people who don’t interview well because of nerves or social anxiety perform excellently on the practical trial. This is the real test that will show you what’s what.

Use a checklist

Just like the candidates come in prepared, so should you. They know what they’re looking for in a job, but do you know exactly what you’re looking for in your candidate? If you don’t, figure it out; and then write it down in checklist format. This is going to be your guide throughout the interview process. Ideally, you’d have several checklists for every stage: one for weeding through resumes, one for the interview part, and one for the practical task.

That way, you’ll be able to see clearly, in black and white, just how good of a fit someone is for the job. Not every point on your checklist is going to be equally important, of course, so you should give that the proper consideration. However, a successful candidate should have a majority of your checklist ticked off. No one will score 100%, probably, but you should strive to get as close to that as possible.

Check for compatibility with the culture or team

Oftentimes, companies find that the person they hired is, indeed, wonderful at their job – but that’s not always enough. Deciding whether someone is a right fit or not should take several things into account: how qualified they are at their job, what kind of personality they have, and whether they fit into the company culture. And when your “perfect” candidate turns out to be socially insufferable, it’s back to the drawing board.

That’s why that day at the office is so important, as are some more personal questions; even the way your candidate is dressed and their body language will let you know about key aspects of their personality and whether or not they’d be a good fit for your team.

If you’re skilled enough, you can even assess this kind of fit or clash during a potential prescreening over Skype or the phone. Well-timed questions about previous company cultures they’ve worked in, work style, work ethics, social habits, etc. can reveal all you need to know to strike them off the list or carry them forward to the next stage in the interview process.

Don’t make the interview overly difficult

There was a trend among companies, at some point, to make the interview as frustrating as humanly possible. Whether it was done on purpose or just really badly designed, that is left to be assumed, but it resulted in thousands of very frustrated candidates.

Now, difficult questions meant to stump the candidate are sometimes useful, depending on what the job is – if they will go on to work in a call center taking on clients with complaints, you’ll want to test their patience and how they react under pressure.

However, most of the time, inane questions like “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” are just annoying and make the candidate feel like there is no right answer they could give. Yes, technically, these questions are included to test creativity, but there are so many better ways to do that than to irritate your candidates to death.

Consider internal candidates first

You may be looking for the perfect candidate and coming up short, but have you considered that the person you were looking for may be right under your nose? Too many companies jump straight to looking outside of their employee pool for new talent. But chances are that several people are qualified and eager to advance or switch jobs who are already in your employment.

Whenever you have a job opening, consider looking for internal candidates, as a first resort. There are several advantages to this: they have already been vetted and hired, so you know they’re trustworthy, they’re a good fit for the company and the team, you know the way they work and what their capabilities are, you know they are eager to work hard to be promoted, and you save precious time and resources on the recruiting process.

Why screen hundreds of other candidates, when you already have someone perfectly capable? It’s much easier to hire for smaller or entry-level roles than it is to find someone with more seniority.

Hire ahead of time/don’t hire in a rush

The thing is that if you want to do something well, you can’t do it in a rush, and that’s also true for hiring. If what you’re looking for is the perfect candidate and not just any warm body who will fit the bill right now, then you need to put some time into achieving this goal.

Ideally, you wouldn’t be in a rush or looking to hire someone as soon as possible because you need them. If you can plan, you’re in a much better position – you can afford to be picky, to carry out an exhaustive search, and to be as thorough as you want in the interview process.

That’s why it’s a good idea to review your activity and roles regularly and be aware of what needs you may have in the future. Hiring for a new role should always be something that is planned way ahead, and not something that takes you by surprise.

Consider long-term potential

And speaking of not hiring for “right now”, you’ll also want to be thinking about the long-term potential of your future employee – how are they likely to develop? Is there room for them to grow within the company? Are they a good candidate for a potential leadership role later on? Taking these aspects into account now ensures that you invest in someone valuable, who will be an important part of your team for years to come.

Otherwise, all your efforts to hire someone will have been in vain, including the resources you’ve spent in the recruiting process. A few months down the line, you’ll be faced with the need to hire someone again, and the cycle continues.

Final thoughts

Finding the perfect person for the job can be more challenging than you thought. Most employers don’t take it seriously enough, and that can result in a poor fit. Thankfully, if you plan your recruiting strategy and think about the way you are interviewing your candidates, you are much more likely to weed out the duds and find someone who is a great fit for the role and the company, long-term.

So, what are your thoughts on this story?
Tell us in the comments.

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