The “Best Hire” does not always mean the “Most Qualified” candidate. In this article I will break down the 3 key steps to hiring the best candidate for your team. Our goal as Hiring Managers is to hire a candidate that fits the qualifications of the role, is a great culture fit, and enjoys coming to work every day.

How to select which candidates to interview for the position 

You just posted a new job opening online, and here comes the flood of resumes! Sifting through resumes is the number 1 reason why we miss out on a good candidate. To avoid missing out on a candidate, use “deal breaker” questions in your application. For example, if you are looking for a candidate that has worked with clients face to face you might include something like this in the application, “Have you worked in a client facing role before?” The answer in the application is either “Yes or No.” If the applicant answers “Yes” they are filtered through. You can have as many “deal breaker” questions as you would like in order to best categorize your pool of candidates. Be careful not to get too specific though, remember the “most qualified” doesn’t always result in the “best hire.”  

Once you have had the job posted for 2-5 days (this is your sweet spot), begin categorizing your candidates. I like to create a list of “top candidates” and a list of “candidates to screen.” Your “top candidates” are applicants that meet all of your “must haves” for the role. Your “candidates to screen” are applicants that meet most of the requirements and have an application that stood out above the rest.

My rule of thumb is to create a candidate pool of 10, pulling from your “top candidates” and “candidates to screen” list. You will then send out your initial request to interview these candidates. 

Questions to ask in an interview and what to look for in a response

Depending on your company’s interview process, as the Hiring Manager, you may be the first or second person to speak with the candidate. Regardless of order, your process, as the Hiring Manager, should stay consistent. Create a list of questions that are technical and non-technical, and most importantly have in mind what you are looking for in a response from the candidate. 

Here are a few of my favorite questions to ask in an interview (non-technical): 

1. Can you please describe your career over the last couple of years?

What to look for in a response: Are the thoughts organized? Did the applicant articulate highlights that they were passionate about? Is the candidate a good communicator? 

2. What is a major accomplishment that you have had in the last 3 years?

What to look for in a response: Is the accomplishment significant? Did the candidate identify strengths, and do those strengths align with what this position needs? Did the candidate demonstrate business intensity? 

3. Can you please describe your short-term and long-term career objectives?

What to look for in a response: Does the candidate have a plan? Is the candidate able to articulate why this job adds value to their future? Does the candidate’s plan align with the needs of your company? 

4. What are you looking for in a company? In a position? 

What to look for in a response: Did the candidate describe your company? Was culture talked about? Did the candidate explain their values and how they align with your company’s mission? 

5. Why did you apply to this position?

What to look for in a response: Does the candidate know the position they are applying to? Do their strengths align with what this position calls for? Did the candidate go into detail as to why they would be the best fit for the position? 

Candidate Experience 

Finding the right candidate for the job may take some time. If a candidate has a great experience throughout the interview process, this person might tell other people in their network about the role. The more people that know about the job opening, the more likely we are to find a great candidate. 

Regardless of if you move a candidate forward, or pass on the candidate, make sure the candidate walks away from the interview process with a positive experience. Here are a few ways to ensure a positive candidate experience:

1. As a Hiring Team, always respond to candidates in a timely manner. If a candidate has to wait 2 to 3 months for their next interview, this sets a bad precedent for what it might look like to work at this company. 

2. Give as much feedback as possible. Each company has a policy on the amount, or type, of feedback you can provide a candidate. Always consult your HR department regarding candidate feedback. However, candidates generally want to know why they did, or did not, do well on an interview, so try to provide feedback, if your company permits. 

3. Lastly, being yourself. This one might sound cheesy, but candidates want to feel like we, as the Hiring Managers, are human. The candidate wants to work with someone they get along with, and vice versa. If you are your true self in the interview this will allow for two things: weeding out candidates and attracting the right culture fits for your team.  

Remember, candidates are humans too and want to be treated as such. The interview should be a safe place for candidates to feel heard and be excited to show who they are and why they would make a great fit for your team. 

Hiring can be difficult, however, having a step by step hiring process in place will help. Create questions and processes that will help you get through the hiring process and identify your “Unicorn” candidate quickly. Best of luck on building your team! 

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