In today’s crowded job market, the search for the perfect hire can be challenging. Of course you want to find someone who meets all the basic criteria – education, experience, relevant software and hardware skills – but what about personal candidate qualities that can make the difference between a good performer and a top performer? When you’re evaluating your next pool of applicants, don’t forget to look for these key candidate qualities that won’t be listed on a resume:
Evidence of strong verbal communication
As The Balance Careers noted, communication is a candidate quality important to virtually every employer. While candidates can say they have strong written or verbal communication skills, being able to demonstrate it in an interview is what matters.
The interview process is the perfect opportunity for you to evaluate a candidates’s true communication skills. It is very important to listen not just to the words a candidate is saying, but also how he or she is saying them. Listen closely to catch nuances of syntax, speech cadence, the emotions suggested by their intonation of various phrases and similar factors. You don’t have to be an expert, but as a recruiter or hiring manager you’ve heard it all so put that experience to use. You will be able to hear the difference between a genuine claim and a bogus one.
Compatibility and flexibility
Interviews also present an opportunity to figure out how flexible a candidate can be. Don’t be afraid to throw curveball questions or to place them in hypothetical situations where they would face difficult decisions. After all, they will most likely have to manage challenges throughout their career. Give them a few moments to think about the question at hand and see how they react. Be on the lookout for answers that come too easily or too slowly. Watch the candidate’s body language for signs that can indicate a less than honest response. (Citing medical professionals, Time magazine noted hand gestures immediately following speech, pursing of the lips, changes in complexion and sudden changes in volume or intonation can signal dishonesty or deception.)
Compatibility has to do with how well employees fit in with corporate culture. Be sure to ask applicants about what they liked and didn’t like about the culture at previous employers, especially those in similar industries or with similar organizational structures. While you won’t know for certain if anyone will gel with your business until they’ve been there a while, honest examples of past success in this regard are a good sign.
Empathy and compassion
In a post for her blog I Want Her Job, career consultant Brianne Perlberg wrote that recruiters for Microsoft and other major tech companies place major emphasis on “empathy for the end user” – understanding how a customer experiences a problem that a piece of software or cloud platform is meant to solve.
This philosophy can apply to almost any field, the only difference is what’s being sold. An ability to empathize with the difficulties of existing and potential clients and to solve issues from that perspective is invaluable. Be sure to ask candidates about their track record of customer service success and to cite examples of working with colleagues to solve problems or develop new solutions.
In an interview with tech resource provider Built in Colorado, SolidFire lead recruiter Karen Stafford explained how savvy hiring managers consider a job applicant’s motivation to work in a particular position.
“Recruiters look for candidates who know what they have to offer and have a clear understanding of how their skills will mesh with the company they are interviewing with,” Stafford said.
Resumes can speak to this attribute in some ways, but the interview will be essential for figuring out the whole story. As we noted earlier, don’t be afraid to put applicants on the spot with frank questions. Motivation to work in a particular job – at your organization rather than for one of your competitors – is a characteristic worth examining. If they offer form-letter answers, they’re probably not right for the position. But if they answer thoughtfully and with honest candor, you could be looking at a great new staff member.
“Not all of the skills you should seek in employees fit into a typical resume.”
For more insight into recruiting best practices or building a positive candidate experience, check out these other blogs: