As a recruiter or HR employee, you know the basics of how to hire a solid candidate: Look through resumes and cover letters, cull out the ones that best fit your needs or who look the most promising, conduct (at least one) interview. These work well, primarily, in hiring the right person for the job. But how do you measure the true quality of a candidate? How do you define it, and how can you accomplish this consistently?
When considering everything that makes a solid candidate, it’s really not just about experience and skill, although there are significant parts of it. Quality also has to do with knowing that this person will fit with your company’s core values and goals, as well as knowing he or she is the kind of person you want on your team, which is harder to ascertain. These four strategies will help you do this and, in turn, help improve your business and cut down on turnover and all that goes with it.
- Before asking the questions, think about your best workers, your highest achievers. What traits or characteristics do they possess that make them so valuable? Keep it positive: While you want to weed out candidates who clearly do not fit your needs, it’s sometimes harder to know what you do want in an employee until you have carefully thought about it ahead of time. Some traits to consider in top employees include initiative, personal effectiveness, flexibility, knowledge, teamwork, and leadership. You may have more that you value in your top employees; make your own list so you can look for these qualities in your candidates.
- One effective way to incorporate these traits: Use behavioral interview questions to see which candidates have them. Using your list of the preferred characteristics that crop up most often, find a way to ask questions that help you ascertain those same behaviors in your candidates. Ask questions that require the person to recount to you how he reacted to a setback (personal effectiveness), how she dealt with a major project and what strategies she implemented to achieve success (initiative), personal and business goals and how to achieve them, creative problem solving (flexibility), how he keeps on top of current trends (knowledge), dealing with a difficult co-worker and how she managed it (teamwork), to name a few examples.
- Instead of basic interview questions about knowledge, you want to probe the candidate’s behavior: How does he/she react in certain situations? This will give you a better insight as to how they will attend to problems and challenges that may arise at work. These types of questions also require some on-the-spot thinking from the candidate; it’s more difficult to come up with a pre-packaged answer, and this will give you a more candid look at what and how he/she responds.
- As another way to look at finding candidates that includes all three steps above, make sure to take candidate suggestions from trusted sources into consideration. These can come from colleagues within your place of business, friends in your industry (or outside of it whose judgment you trust), and particularly those high-performing employees — who better to suggest someone with the qualities you’re looking for than someone who already has them? Remember to look within your own company as well and ask managers if anyone stands out. These workers already know the company, its functions, and its needs.