Improving Candidate Quality: Three Steps to Finding the Best Fit Candidate

This is a guest blog post from Indeed. Indeed is the #1 job site in the world1 with over 250 million unique visitors2 every month. Indeed strives to put jobseekers first, giving them free access to search for jobs, post CVs, and research companies. Every day, Indeed connect millions of people to new opportunities. Visit the Indeed blog for data trends, insights and tips for employers.

Finding the best fit candidate for a job isn’t easy, especially in a time crunch. Of course, when it works like it’s supposed to, it’s a great feeling — but when it doesn’t, you must either live with the situation or correct it later down the road, and that’s not pleasant for anyone.

If you’ve ever experienced a situation like this, you’re probably wondering how you can prevent making unqualified hires in the future and improve your candidate quality when hiring. Here are some tips on how to find the right match — and avoid making hires you might later regret.

Create clear job criteria to assess candidate quality

You may come across a CV that looks perfect for the role. But looks aren’t everything, and you shouldn’t let a CV that seems perfect on the surface trick you into thinking this candidate is “the one.” So why not apply a little bit of rigour to the process? Create criteria checklists for reviewing CVs so you can verify candidate quality and make sure they have what you need.

To develop criteria checklists, compile the essential functions and qualifications of the job you’re filling, and review them with others in the organisation who manage and/or perform this role. Then create two checklists, and use these to analyse each CV you receive:

  1. Checklist 1: Minimum requirements, or “must-haves.” Minimum requirements help you screen candidates out. Depending on your organisation, failing to check even one of the boxes on this list could disqualify a candidate. The checklist should include skills, knowledge, attributes, work experiences, certifications and education level.
  2. Checklist 2: Preferred qualifications, or “nice-to-haves.” Preferred qualifications help you screen candidates in. The more criteria you have on this list, the broader the applicant pool — and the more of these criteria a candidate meets, the more likely they are to be a good match. Your checklist should be similar to the “must-haves” list but include preferred “nice-to-haves” instead.

Screen for red flags

No matter what job you’re trying to fill, you want to look for candidate CVs that present a neat, professional summary of the applicant. Make sure to review CVs and other application materials to look for problem areas that point to low candidate quality like being unprofessional, unqualified or potentially misrepresenting themselves. Look out for the following issues, as they may correspond to larger problems:

  • CVs not customised to what the posting asked for could show laziness or a lack of enthusiasm or that the candidate isn’t interested in this job, just “any job.”
  • Unexplained employment gaps may be a red flag; be sure to ask candidates about this.
  • Numerous, brief jobs may mean a loyalty or dependability issue.
  • Illogical career moves with unrelated job titles can cause doubt about the applicant’s focus or drive.

Also keep an eye out for language and formatting in the CV itself! Repeated grammatical or spelling errors could reflect carelessness or inattentiveness. However, be aware that some of these red flags may have completely reasonable justifications — just make sure to address these with the candidate so they can explain their side of the story.

Conduct an experiential interview

A traditional interview isn’t always the best way to assess candidate quality. In fact, some studies show that they’re less useful than other methods. To get a truer picture of whether an applicant is qualified for the job, design and conduct an experiential interview: one that tests the candidate by doing rather than talking.

For example, with a sales role, challenge the candidate to sell one of your company’s products or services to a colleague. You know what you’re hiring for, so identify some key skills you can test for.

If you need more evidence that a candidate can perform key aspects of the job, you could even conduct a “working interview” where you pay the candidate to work for a day or two. Seeing them in action during this longer experience will show whether they can perform the job and also introduce the candidate to team members, who can later share their insights with you. This will help you decide whether or not to extend an offer.

Final note

Unqualified candidates can be a drain on time and resources for everyone involved, and sooner or later, your organisation will have to start the hiring process all over again. By creating clear job criteria, screening for red flags and conducting experiential interviews, you can make sure you’re hiring the best fit for the job the first time around.

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1 comScore Total Visits, March 2018

2 Google Analytics, Unique Visitors, September 2018

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