Don’t Ignore These When Looking at Job Candidates

When trying to choose among different applicants for an opportunity at your company, there are some things you can overlook in a candidate:

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  • Nervousness at the interview.
  • One or two gaps in job history, depending on how long the individual has been in the workforce.
  • Missing one or two “critical” skills.
  • No college degree. (Seriously, if Google and Ernst & Young can say a degree isn’t necessary, couldn’t you consider it, as well?)
  • Dressing a little inappropriately (as in wearing khakis instead of slacks or a blouse that’s a touch too revealing).

But there are at least four things a hiring manager or recruiter should never ignore. We list them below.

  1. Past performance.

Nothing says how well a candidate will do in your position than how well he did in previous positions. If you find that the person you’re interviewing likes to do only the minimum to get a job done, doesn’t do well in teams, barely made sales quotas, prefers to do things by the book, and so on, she will do the same with you.

Yes, perhaps quotas were too high at her past position, but what about the one before that, and the one before that? And, yes, people can change when highly motivated. But if the person has been in the workforce for at least five years and has exhibited certain traits time and again, chances are she’s not going to change much, if at all, when she’s your employee.

How to find these characteristics? When checking references, ask specific questions as to the candidate’s self-motivation, results, attitude, etc.

  1. She wants the position!

Most candidates will say they want the position, but look for signs that this candidate truly does. Does she become somewhat excited talking about what she can do for you as your employee? Or does she seem to be underwhelmed by your opportunity? Does she talk about doing tasks in the past (see above) that indicate she’s willing to pitch in wherever needed, whether they were in her job description or not? Enthusiasm and appreciation for your opportunity is easy to spot, as is a sense that the candidate feels she is overqualified for the position and it’s therefore somewhat “beneath” her. Observe closely.

  1. Interpersonal skills.

Introverts can be great team players while extroverts can be obnoxious boors (“I’m not going to go along with you because you are wrong!”) Generally, unless a candidate is going to work absolutely alone (or even telecommute), you need to look at her interpersonal skills. She doesn’t have to make “best friends” with colleagues, but can she make professionally friendly and cooperative connections with her teammates?

What’s more, you want to hire people who can embrace your company’s values and mission as well as culture. Do her personal goals mesh with those of your company?

  1. Can the candidate do the job?

While it can be better to hire for attitude rather than skills, you do want to ensure that the candidate can handle most of the skills necessary to be competent in the position. This is why many Southern California firms ask us to find them candidates for temp-to-hire positions so that both our client and our candidate can decide if the individual is right for the opportunity – and the opportunity is right for the candidate. Temp-to-hire assignments mean you can observe the candidate first-hand to see if she has the necessary skills, aptitude and attitude to succeed in the position.  If not, you can ask us to find another individual you also can try out.

To learn more about our temp-to-hire services, contact the Helpmates office nearest you.

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