6 Steps to Hiring the Perfect Candidate

Finding the perfect candidate for any position is a lot tougher than it sounds. I’ve personally posted positions where I’ve received in excess of 100 resumes in the first 24 hours. In those instances, it stands to reason that there are great candidates most likely slipping through the cracks, just based upon the sheer volume of people applying.

With that being said, here are six steps we can take as employers to narrow the playing field and at least bring the applicant pool down to a manageable size.

  1. Think long-term as you are defining the position.

    The first thing I do when I’m getting ready to fill a position is sit down and really define the position and all the requirements the candidate will have in the long term.  Thinking of how someone will fit into not only the position, but the culture in general, one, two or even five years down the road will help you more realistically define the type of candidate you’re looking for. Define the requirements completely and concisely. Try not to generalize with statements like “5 years experience,” or “PHP guru.” These loose definitions not only leave the door open for interpretation, but also do nothing to describe the position in general. Take the time to define specifics; 5 years PHP experience in healthcare related industry with a specific focus on ______.”  Sure, this may be getting too specific, but any worthwhile PHP developer will know what to look for in the listing and if/when they should apply.

  2. Eliminate the candidates you know don’t have the core skills first

    There’s a good chance if you completed  number 1 above, you have a very clear idea of the core skills needed to complete the job. Remember too that you are thinking long term. You need someone that will be able to complete the job day-to-day without getting lost.  Don’t forget, you’re trying to narrow the list of candidates. There’s no reason to bring an applicant in if you know they are missing a crucial skill needed to succeed. That doesn’t help you or the applicant. I even like to go far enough as to tell them why. Constructive criticism is just that, constructive. If they are weak in a specific area, they may just polish their knowledge up over the next year or two and end up back on your desk next time around.

  3. Look for applicants who have demonstrable relevant accomplishments

    Unless you are staffing an entry level position, the candidates you are looking at should have some sort of real world experience with results tied to it on their resumes. For example; budgetary experience, development projects worked on, customer base growth, employees managed, etc. Look for stats that you can gauge, and make sure they match the experience your applicant is claiming they have.  Another indicator I look for is referrals. If not a real life referral, I have found LinkedIn referrals to be fairly honest and detailed, as no one wants their name tied to a bad referral.

  4. Plan your interview questions out before you bring candidates in

    Don’t interview with ad hoc questions. This will allow the conversation to spin off in random directions. Although compatible personalities are extremely important, the last thing you want to do is find yourself hiring someone on gut instinct alone. A good interviewee should be, and often will be great at disarming you and taking control of the interview. That’s what they are trained to do, because it’s a good tactic, and it works. But, having your questions ready and a road map to follow will ensure you get the information you need to make a solid hiring decision.

  5. Once you have your candidates narrowed down, run them by a few others in your organization

    Although I like to interview my direct reports one-on-one to see if I think they’ll be a good fit, I do like to get other opinions from a few people in my company. Many times, others will spot flaws (or strengths) in people you never picked up on.  It’s always good to get a consensus, or even just multiple opinions, before hiring. Once again, this will become more natural of a concern if you are thinking of and visualizing candidates as part of your team a year from now. Encourage others in your company to picture the same. This type of collaborative approach will often improve the quality of candidates you hire substantially.

  6. Screen and verify your candidates as thoroughly as possible

    Once you have found the candidate you like, you’ll need to verify that they are who they say they are and there are no red flags you missed. Having a good background screening solution in place will catch quite a few of these red flags and save you a considerable amount of money in the long run. A bad hire can and will cost you tens of thousands of dollars, and a lot of headaches. In many cases, it’s not only a money saving convenience, but a legal necessity as well to remain compliant. Partnering with the right screening company is the best way to go. They will have employees specifically focused on compliance and legal matters, and can advise you of all the best practices for whatever the position you are staffing. Check out our solutions here, or contact for a demo of our ACTivate platform and let us tell you about how we can build the best solution to meet YOUR needs.

Recruiting isn’’t an exact science, and there will always be mistakes in finding the perfect match. The best you can do is minimize the chances of hiring the wrong person. Following the above steps will certainly help you start down that path. What other measures do you take to help you hire the perfect candidate? Tell us below in the comments.

This entry was posted in Background Screening, General, References & Credentialing and tagged , , , , , by RJ Frasca. Bookmark the permalink.

RJ Frasca – Director of Marketing & Communications RJ Frasca joined Active Screening in 2013. Mr. Frasca has nearly 20 years of marketing experience and has worked with numerous high profile companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft, Time Warner, and Verizon on various marketing campaigns. Mr. Frasca has extensive experience in digital marketing, public relations and online community management, and is a well-known and respected social media strategist and thought leader. Mr. Frasca is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with Active Screening customers, and continually educating them on best practices within the industry.
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