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Run, Don’t Walk: Signs of a Great Job Candidate

Run, Don’t Walk: Signs of a Great Job Candidate

Hiring people isn’t fun. It seems like it ought to be — you meet lots of new people, you get a chance to give someone a new job, there’s something empowering about choosing among applicants. . .but it’s not that. What it is — tiring, stressful, disappointing, confusing, nerve-wracking — and that’s if you’re doing it right. Finding a great job candidate is a mix of investigation, instinct, inquiry and experience. Someone seems great, but everyone is putting their best face forward. You know the talent mix that you want, but can you afford it? If not, what do you sacrifice? See — hiring people is not fun.

Finding a great job candidate

If you’re looking for a great job candidate, here are some clues.

They have a positive personality. This is more important than you think. It’s not about having someone cool and fun that you want to hang out with (although studies show employers do tend to like that). What you want is someone who is optimistic in general, because they are more likely to be a problem solver.

They believe there is a way to shave a little off the budget, to make one more sale, to open a new location on time, whatever. And certainly if they do not seem like they have a positive personality when they are still in the applying and interviewing stage with you, their future employer, what are they going to be like when they’re under a tight deadline, working with a difficult client, coming in after facing down morning traffic?

You didn’t have to talk yourself out of red flags. Heed your instincts. Most of us are more perceptive than we give ourselves credit for. Listen to your instincts.

Something seem off about their story regarding why they are leaving a job? Did their background check have a couple of questionable hits? Were there references cagey when you called them?

Try not to be blinded by dazzling credentials or the perfect interview etiquette and speed past warning signs. And while this might go without saying, definitely don’t hire someone with red flags just because they seem like “one of us”.

[bctt tweet=”Forget ‘cultural fit’. You risk passing on great people if things like similar backgrounds are a hiring factor.”]

You’re not starting a bowling team, you’re running a business.

They asked great questions. Notice that this assumes they asked questions. Always ask a candidate if they have any questions, regardless of how perfectly you think you have explained, the role, the company, the vision, whatever. And “no, thanks, I don’t have any questions” is never the right answer.

They can say that maybe during a first round interview, but if you’re ready to make an offer and they haven’t asked you anything about what is about to be a minimum of 40 hours of their week, their way to put food on the table, one of the most important new relationships in their life . . . see why that’s not a good thing?

On the other hand, a great job candidate has great questions. They don’t have to be a lot of questions, but they ought to be asking things that show their excitement and enthusiasm. Ideally, the questions also demonstrate that they have done some research on the business, the industry or the specific role.

Great job candidates want to know what you are looking for in an employee. They want to know what your business strategy is, or what you think is evolving in the industry. Or whatever — you know your business, and you’ll know a good question when you hear it. So listen.

They show good judgment. Experience is important. Experience might even be vital. But good experience, even great experience, doesn’t go far without good judgment. Things go wrong, people get sick, traffic is bad.

Employees have to make decisions and choices on their own, speak to clients that belong to someone else, spend money to solve a crisis, do stuff based on  . . . good judgment. How can you figure it out before you hire them?

Ask them for examples of difficult situations and how they solved them. Check their social media pages to see what they choose to share with the universe. Ask references about their ability to make smart decisions.

Everyone makes mistakes, but if you investigate their past behavior, a pattern will generally emerge, and great job candidates will have a history of keeping calm, communicating frequently, and having good instincts.

Hiring is tough, so when you find a great job candidate you should feel excited.

Sometimes it does come down to instinct — you just have a feeling that someone is a good fit. And instinct is not a bad thing, but it’s usually based on evidence more tangible than it might appear. So push yourself on that gut feeling — why do you feel so positive about this person?

Maybe because they just seemed to have a “good attitude” (that’s the positive personality). Or, they seemed to have a “good head on their shoulders” (you might have gotten information that they exercise good judgment). And that to a lack of reservations in the back of your head (no red flags), and you probably just realized you have a great job candidate.