You already know that hiring strong employees is important. That’s why leveraging all essential tools and resources when seeking candidates is essential. For instance, if you were looking for a new CEO, you might benefit from hiring a CEO recruiting firm to assist in your search. This significantly boosts your odds of attracting the ideal candidate.
That said, regardless of the position being filled, you also need to remember that knowing the skills and qualities the ideal candidate should possess is just as essential as identifying the candidates who have them. Some qualities are a given—you want someone who’s hard-working, reliable, and who has the required skills and experiences for the position. But what other qualities should you be looking for? How do you determine what skills and experiences are needed? Sometimes it’s not obvious. You can’t find the right employee if you don’t first take the time to determine what makes someone the right candidate.
Keep the following tips in mind the next time you’re making a hiring decision, and you’re far more likely to hire talented workers who will deliver major benefits to your organization.
Consider Your Most Successful Employees
When hiring a new employee, consider which employees in similar roles are currently thriving at the company. Make a list of successful team members whose responsibilities relatively correspond with the responsibilities your new hire will take on. Compare these employees, looking for shared qualities. Odds are good you’ll find your company’s strongest workers have a handful of traits and past work experiences in common. By identifying these traits and experiences, you’ll be able to develop an accurate profile of the candidate you’re looking for. You can also use employee performance tracking software for this purpose.
Focus on a Range of Skill Types
It’s obviously important for candidates to possess the practical skills and work background for a position. That said, it’s also important to not focus solely on practical abilities. You need to consider the “soft skills” a candidate should possess as well. These may include a diplomatic rather than outspoken personality, strong listening skills, patience, or any other traits you believe are necessary for the candidate to succeed in the position.
Include these in your profile of the ideal employee, and perhaps more importantly, determine how you will assess whether a candidate has these soft skills. Determining whether someone has a certain practical ability—like the ability to speak French or code in Java—is usually straightforward. Soft skills can be a different matter.
When evaluating soft skills, pay close attention to a person’s behavior during the hiring process. Focus on asking open-ended, situational questions that encourage the candidate to elaborate on their experiences. You might ask about a situation in the past (“Tell me about a time when…”) or develop a hypothetical situation (“If you had two competing deadlines, how would you prioritize them?”)
For more important hires, you can also give candidates a real, but temporary project that requires them to interact with the team they’d be working with if they got the job. (Note that most experts agree that when using this approach, you should pay the candidate for their time.) There is also software that can assess taped interviews, using artificial intelligence (AI), sentiment analysis, and facial/voice recognition technology to systematically evaluate a candidate’s expressions, voice inflections, and other body language.
Understand Your Company Culture
A strong company culture plays an essential role in your success. Consistently hiring employees based on culture fit results in a workforce where people tend to get along. Remember that no one works completely alone, and so a team of people who actually like spending time together—or at least get along—is a good thing for your organization.
However, you can’t take culture into account during hiring when you don’t understand your organization’s culture. Take the time to assess it. One way to start is by reviewing the stories and anecdotes your employees tell each other repeatedly. What do they say about your organization? Next, observe how your employees behave, especially in meetings. Do people ask questions? Is there laughing and crosstalk? Do people challenge each other’s views? You can also convene a focus group of employees to discuss culture and how they perceive the organization.
By taking the time to understand your company culture, you’ll more clearly understand how to assess culture fit when making hiring decisions.
Know Your Vision
Knowing your organization’s vision and mission is just as important as understanding its culture. The right candidate for any position will be someone who shares your vision. A talented individual may not be right for a given role if they can’t feign enthusiasm for the organization’s values.
As with evaluating soft skills, you’ll need to spend time asking yourself how you’ll determine whether someone is dedicated to your vision. Talking about the company’s mission during interviews can help in this capacity. If someone shows signs of enthusiasm when you bring the topic up, there’s a good chance their reaction is genuine.
You might also look for trends in their work history. While you shouldn’t reject a candidate simply because they haven’t worked for companies with missions similar to yours, if they have consistently sought employment at such organizations, it may indicate that they are genuinely interested in working for companies that stand for certain values.
The takeaway here is that you can’t hire the ideal candidate if you forget to define who that person is. Apply these lessons early in the hiring process, and you’ll be able to develop a strong candidate persona that will guide you to the right person for the job.