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Dear Kristy: What are some qualities you see in your top candidates?

recruiting employees, hiring employeesDear Kristy,

Thank you for all the insight on your hiring and recruiting blog! I’ve been able to share some of your knowledge with our hiring team internally, and it has really helped us streamline our hiring process and avoid knee-jerk hiring decisions.

With all the experience you and your team have, I’m curious what you all see behind-the-scenes that automatically, in your mind, puts a candidate ahead of the pack.

Thanks for the advice!

Chris in Seattle

Hello Chris!

Another great question, thank you for reaching out!

There are a few things right off the bat that may indicate a candidate that is ahead of the pack before we even connect on the phone or in person.

  1. They reply promptly to emails. As a rule of thumb, I feel better about candidates who respond to emails within a 12-hour window. This allows time for them to be at work and not responding while on the clock with another company, but also a window of time where they should be able to get you some type of reply.
  2. You can feel their interest in the position through the responsiveness and tone of their emails. If you are thinking you cannot always read tone in an email, you are of course correct. However, some candidates are more naturally outgoing or friendly in emails, whereas others are more formal. Depending on the role you’re hiring for, that could be an early indicator of their personal style and how that fits with the particular role.
  3. Their resume is polished and professional.

Once our recruiters set up a first-round phone interview or screening with them, we have another opportunity to gauge their qualifications and fit for the job and company before even sending them to our clients. Aside from answers to the position-specific questions in our screening, here are some other traits that stand out in the good candidates we speak with:

  1. They offer more than yes or no answers. Candidates should be able to give you some meat with their answers. For example, if you ask a project management candidate to tell you about the largest project they have ever run, how much detail do they give? Hopefully, they not only give you the dollar amount; look for candidates who tell you the dollar amount, the type of loss, location, and so on.
  2. They are professional and courteous on the phone. One of our recruiters works heavily with a company in South with strong core values, and even the way a candidate responds and speaks to her gives her a good idea of if he will be a fit for the company or not.
  3. They ask questions! This shows the candidate has an interest in the position.

They follow up. It’s actually rare these days that candidates follow up after a first-round interview or phone screening. Again, it shows investment when they do so, especially if it’s as simple as a thank-you note just after the interview