Ask any hiring manager or recruiter and they will tell you that there is no fail-safe formula for hiring people. Every role is different. Most candidates will not have every attribute you’re looking for, and sometimes you’re under pressure to fill an opening using a limited talent pool.
That said, what you can do is try to find applicants who share similar qualities as your most successful employees. We spoke to career experts to find out their best advice for hiring qualified candidates.
Look for Career Advancement
If you’re hiring people for any roles above entry-level, you want to be sure that your candidates have a track record of growth. “When recruiting emerging leader-level talent, we always look for progression,” says Justin Hirsch, the president and HR executive search lead at Jobplex.“If an individual is not progressing in their career, it’s an indication that they may not be ready (or qualified) to be tapped for the next level of leadership,” he adds.
Be Open to Nontraditional Work Histories
Even though a role you’re trying to fill has skill requirements, it doesn’t mean you can’t hire someone who is missing a few. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult at the executive and emerging leader levels to find cookie-cutter talent that checks all boxes,” says Hirsch. “In fact, next generation leaders are especially likely to have taken a nontraditional career path compared to emerging leaders of past generations,” he says.
“If you believe the candidate would be a great culturala fit and has previously proven to be able to overcome a skill or knowledge gap, it might be worth your while to bet on this candidate’s potential to grow into the role,” says Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopInterview.
“Before you extend an offer,” she adds, “you’ll want to make sure that the team is equipped to provide the right guidance, training, and resources to set the new hire up for success.”
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Potential
While it’s natural to look for candidates who possess certain skills and knowledge when you’re hiring people, sometimes it’s all in the delivery, Augustine says. “Candidates who demonstrate a can-do attitude, a genuine passion for the work, and a desire to learn and grow may ultimately become your best hires,” she adds.
Look for Accomplishments and Achievements
So many candidates list their job responsibilities but never mention their accomplishments. “If the candidate can illustrate through a resume what she or he was able to accomplish using concrete, measurable outcomes, and then further explain in an interview how she or he was able to achieve those goals, it becomes clear that the candidate is thoughtful, cares about the work, and actually played a role in the outcome of an initiative or project,” says Hirsch.
Ask Insightful Interview Questions
Augustine recommends asking behavioral-based questions when you’re hiring people. “Those are often a good way to determine if a candidate has what it takes to make a real impact on the business or if the candidate is only capable of playing a supporting role,” she says.
Behavioral questions are also your chance to probe the candidate about specific results or accomplishments that are listed on their resume. “Ask what steps the person took to achieve such a result, what challenges the person faced along the way, and what he or she learned,” says Augustine. The candidate’s response will reveal if they really took the reins or acted more on the sidelines.
Consider Pre-Interview Tests
Depending on the nature of the job, you could ask candidates for work samples, but you don’t know if they worked on those autonomously or had help. That’s why it’s sometimes a good idea to have a candidate take a test to see how they use their skills on the spot. “We find that assessments do a good job of getting to the core of a person’s work style, cultural fit, and leadership approach,” says Hirsch.
Trust Your Gut
Sometimes hiring people comes down to a gut decision about which candidate seems to give off a positive energy and their values align with your company’s core values. Some personality traits to look for in candidates include authenticity, confidence, and honesty, says Augustine. Those qualities can help separate the good hires from great hires.
Learn More Best Practices for Hiring People
Now you’re well on your way to hiring new team members who will strengthen your company. Receive more expert advice for the entire hiring process from writing job descriptions to negotiating an offer.