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What to Look for in an Ideal Candidate?

What to Look for in an Ideal Candidate_Yellow Spark Blog
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

What to Look for in an Ideal Candidate?

When did you last have water? If it’s not something you remember, you probably need a sip of it right away. So please reach for a glass or a bottle or a cup of water, that’s near or far and have it.

“How on earth is water related to looking for an ideal candidate?” you may think. But let me tell you it’s not just related, it’s interlinked. Just like water is the most essential aspect of our day to day living, the right candidate is a very critical aspect of our day to day working. Especially if you are hiring for a critical role in your company, probably someone for your second line of leadership.

The search of the ideal candidate has always been the KRA for a hiring mandate. While the KRA remains the same in today’s work environment, have you realised that candidates have changed drastically?

Candidates today are very fluid just like water. The fast paced changes in the business landscape, use of technology and access to information has enabled candidates to assume this somewhat fluid avatar. The workforce today has melted from the mould of stereotyped work profiles. Candidates don’t hesitate to work in a new role or assume a new profile or portfolio. This fluidity enables the workforce to multitask with efficiency. Assume new responsibilities, attempt new ways to achieve results and even explore new avenues for growth.

However, this new avatar also comes with a flip side, just like sea, sometimes the fluidity could result in candidates building large 30 foot waves of expectations and then come crashing down hard, breaking all bridges built on these expectations. Sounds familiar? At some point in time, we have all experienced the burden of hiring the wrong candidate. No wonder then, companies show a resistance in taking a chance with a candidate who is willing to switch profiles or roles.

In my experience, the loop hole is in the candidate’s assessment process. So if you are a company that is ready to take a chance on hiring this ambitious workforce, what should you look out for in an ideal candidate? What could you do to ensure wrong hires are averted?

5 Traits of a high potential candidate:

Well, that’s simple. You wouldn’t drink water directly from a huge vessel. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to fill your cup directly from a drum. And you definitely wouldn’t prefer bathing with just a glass of water.

The container in which you hold the water, more often than not, defines its purpose. Similarly, to close a position, you need to find a candidate who’s willing to be stored in the container you’re designing for/ offering to them. In today’s work environment ‘candidate fitment’ should take precedence over technical skill; as skills can be acquired. And fitment is always based on personality and personal traits. In our experience candidates that demonstrate the following traits are usually the ones that survive best in a new work environment – with or without prior experience in the role:

1. The job should matter to the candidate

Candidates who are willing to join your company have different motivations. Some would want to be with you because your payment structure is good (that’s among the top reasons, mostly). Some others would be working because being with you improves their CV. While yet others do it to make contacts, build networks, learn skills and feed their passion.

Your candidate assessment process should enable you to gauge at their motivation and future aspirations. Knowing this will enable you to assess the most critical angle – whether this job matters to the candidate. Does the candidate feel that this job will help him/her realise their personal aspiration?

If the candidate looks at this role as a ‘value addition’ to their career/growth, chances are they will stay with you longer irrespective of challenges that they may face in a new role.

2. Demonstrates clarity of thought

Candidates that are certain of ‘why’ they are seeking a new role are often those who have immense amount of clarity in thought. They probably already know what they will need to do to succeed in a new role. Clarity in thought also helps them realise what’s expected of them and thus understand their job role effectively.

While interviewing, check whether the person is clear about what your company is, what it does, what the role offers, and still chooses to be a part of it with a clear mind. This would help both of you to set realistic expectations from each other and meet them too.

3. Has a learning Attitude

Check for this quality in your employees-to-be. If the candidate appears rigid, relies a lot on old school approach, does not come across as a person who is accepting of newer ways of working chances are this person will slow down your work. How? You might offer them a specific role but with the million changes that happen every day in the world, market and industry you operate, you require them to be dynamic as well.

Look for a candidate who is willing to be somewhat fluid in what you expect of them. Those demonstrating a learning attitude are sure must-haves. But be careful of the ‘always learning types’, they are motivated from constant learning but may not be able to apply it. In certain cases, may change his/her approach too often based on recent learning.

4. Achievement orientation

Achievement orientation is different from ambition. When a person has high achievement orientation, they are likely to demonstrate that in every aspect of their life. They will approach work with purpose and would be keen to succeed in any task that’s assigned to them. They have a very important quality; they always work with a sense of ownership.

While looking for an ideal candidate, check if they demonstrate a zeal to do things. It is important that your candidate assessment focuses on their past achievements, both in their personal life and work life to assess if they have the right kind of achievement orientation. The wrong kind of achievement orientation can be detrimental for the company as you could fall prey to malpractices or even make way for office politics.

Assess if they have a desire to make progress and have a positive competitive spirit which would help your organisation grow significantly in the long run.

5. Social Skills

Gone are the days when subordinates did what they were asked to do with least resistance. There will be questions, there will oppositions, there will be conflict and it makes having people management skills imperative.

With the changing work environment many companies now operate in collaborative teams, multi-city teams or multi-location teams. On the other hand, technology has taken quite a bit of work online too. In some ways all of this is impacting the ‘emotional quotient’ involved in working together and leading to a lot of conflict in interpersonal relations at workplaces.

The key to good people management skills is to assess if the candidate has a fair amount of social skills. Will he/she be able to mix with a new team fast? Will they make an effort to build relationships with new team members, suppliers and clients?

To sum it up:

The CV, qualifications and past experiences are undoubtedly very vital in your hiring process. However, if you wish to choose an ideal candidate, you need to look beyond what’s there in the CV. You might have to look at a whole lot of personality aspects to ensure you hire an ideal candidate for the job. It begins with your desire to achieve a high strike rate in recruitment and selection which could be possible by re-looking at the entire recruitment process from the sourcing to interview techniques, the selection tools, etc. You need to be at par with the latest HR trends and have a more strategic approach to your HR planning. You can also build a Culture Triangle© that would transform the culture of your organisation into a more productive and successful one.

We at Yellow Spark specialise in assisting you with this culture-based hiring, designing a candidate fitment and offering you a customised plan on how to win at recruitment by knowing what to look for in an ideal candidate. To know more about us, write to contact@yellowspark.in and we’d be happy to help.

Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.