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A Hiring Managers Guide to Finding Right-Fit Candidates

Statistically, hiring managers pick candidates whose qualifications most closely match the exact criteria/job description for their role or whose background and personality is similar to theirs.  This trend often leads to confirmation bias, the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceived notions, leading to statistical errors and mis-hires. Although this reality presents a serious snafu when best fit, top talent is passed on, it also provides an opportunity for companies to improve how they filter, interview and engage with talent. Here are some suggestions to find the right-fit candidate:

Focus on value investing. To a Hiring Manager’s dismay, there is no such thing as hiring the perfect candidate.  Oftentimes, Hiring Managers get tunnel vision, scanning a resume for the exact project they want to roll out at their organization (be it an implementation or specific cost savings target) and eliminate candidates who haven’t already achieved this.  The catch 22 to this scenario is this: what a candidate did for their former employer yesterday, doesn’t affect what they’ll do for your organization tomorrow. In order to get close to a perfect candidate, Hiring Managers must be willing to develop the candidate’s skills through mentoring and training.  Therefore, a Hiring Manager should remove the blinders that bind them, and take a more holistic approach to assessing fit.  To hire more successfully, do not solely place value on present accomplishments.  Focus more on mentoring and coaching; a successful onboarding program helps candidates assimilate into the company culture, and helps facilitate their success and potential future growth.

Go beyond the resume. When interviewing a candidate for a role, it’s important to take their personality into consideration. Most skills can be acquired, but personalities and an intrinsically motivated drive for success cannot be.  On several occasions we hear Hiring Managers glow about their successful hires.  What attribute do they accredit this success?  Sure, they will mention the candidates’ analytical prowess, but the number one attribute revolves around emotional intelligence; the ability to build rapport and influence critical internal and external stakeholders.  To clarify, we do not encourage hiring a very sharp analyst-level professional with a fantastic personality for a VP role.  What we are saying is that within the parameters of the required years of experience, a Hiring Manager should go beyond the job description and make social intelligence an equal priority in the interview process.

Ask better questions. Yes, it is important to ask enough standard questions to determine whether the candidate is prepared and capable of the career in pursuit.  That being said, the interview shouldn’t stop with the typical technical checklist.  Non-traditional questions allow the candidate and Hiring Manager to determine whether there is a bidirectional fit.  For example, by asking what the candidates short-term goals are and how this position fits in with their long-term goals, a Hiring Manager can determine whether the candidate will achieve personal growth, while still making significant contributions to the company’s financials.  An out of the box question can be whom the candidate admires most and why.  This alludes to the qualities a candidate finds valuable and can help determine alignment between their values and that of the companies.  Similarly, asking their preferred management style can quickly provide insight regarding what motivates them, and whether there may be a disconnect between their preference and the current managers style.

Think Big Picture. At the end of the day, the consequences of a bad hire could potentially be insurmountable, as both expenses and productivity take a hit.  By focusing on the big picture and looking outside the checkboxes, set criteria, or even out of your industry, you may short list an equally qualified, more diverse talent pool, resulting in a “best-fit” scenario between the HiPo candidate and your organization. The most important criteria to consider is making sure there is alignment between the company and the Hiring Manager in regards to the business rationale behind hiring, what skills and qualifications the candidate has to offer the company, and if the additional headcount will produce the desired result.  Of course there is some risk in hiring outside of the job description, since non-traditional backgrounds lead to unpredictable results, but a fresh perspective can be the strategic advantage a company needs to survive today’s volatile market.