Recognizing the Right Candidate

Identifying the right candidate isn’t always easy when recruiting.  Especially when it seems there are too few OR too many candidates to consider for a critical position in your company.  We often feel doubt when the candidate pool is thin and option anxiety can occur with too many candidates.  So how do you recognize the right candidate?

There is no fool-proof science to help answer the question.  I remind myself to go back to the basics and focus on 5 elements to gauge if we have the right candidate (or which one is the right candidate).

For the purposes of this blog, I am going to assume that we’ve identified the necessary qualifications and performed reference checks for all candidates under consideration.  This is about how to identify the right candidate amongst all the qualified.  At this point, hopefully all the red flags have been identified.

Executive search candidate on a job interview.

1. Experience & Accomplishments

This may seem obvious, but I find it helpful to articulate to myself how the candidate fits the role.  Have they successfully performed the duties required of the position for which they are being considered?  It’s important to know the measurables of those accomplishments.  If the candidate lacks any of the requisite experience, I ask myself why I think they can succeed.  Career Tool Belt advises to focus more on accomplishments than experience.  It is also important to note if the candidate brings any skills that the team or organization is lacking.  Filling in the gaps will make for a stronger organization.

2. Level of Interest

When a candidate is truly interested, you can feel their enthusiasm.  Glassdoor puts this as a top six trait.  It is not only what they say, but also how they say it.  Are you able to explain to yourself exactly why the candidate is interested in the opportunity?  If you can, chances are the position matches what they are seeking for their career.   Of course, when recruiting, we sometimes have to sell an opportunity and generate interest.  By the time you are at the selection phase, though, the right candidate should be demonstrating interest in the position.

3. Accessibility & Responsiveness

Have you ever reached out to a candidate and were surprised at how long it took them to get back to you?  The more responsive a candidate is to correspondence outside the interview process, the greater the likelihood they are the right candidate.  Timeliness on correspondence demonstrates responsibility, accessibility, interest level, and an overall appreciation for someone else’s time.  Conversely, candidates who take more than a day to return a phone call or email may be demonstrating that you are not a priority to them.

4. Personal Interactions

How someone treats others should never be overlooked when hiring.  The right candidate will, be welcoming, look you in the eye, treat people they meet with respect, and show a level of care and attentiveness towards others.  These usually indicate how a candidate will make team members feel, bosses and subordinates alike.  Solicit feedback from everyone who interacted with the candidates, from the receptionist at the front desk to the hiring manager.  Consistent feedback across all levels will usually indicate you’ve seen the candidate’s genuine interpersonal skills.

5. Similarities to Top Performers

If you can identify the candidate shares some traits with top performers in your organization, chances are they can be a top performer too.  These could be personality traits, similar backgrounds, or motivations.

Next time you find it challenging to select between multiple candidates for a position, try bringing it back to the basics and employing this thought process.  Especially if the candidates are all qualified and not showing obvious red flags.


About Executek

Executek Recruiting Partners is an executive search and recruiting firm dedicated to helping manufacturing and industrial companies find the right leadership and technical talent.  If you have an open position proving to be a challenge or you would like to learn more about our services.  Contact us today.  We never charge a fee for a phone call.

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