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15 Ways To Ensure You Are Evaluating New Prospects And Finding The Ideal Candidates

The labor market is heating up. Finding the right candidate for your company takes more than filling a vacant position—you need to find a professional who offers value, fits your company culture, and contributes to the growth of your business.

Sometimes, it can feel like an impossible task. There are some strategies you can implement to improve your recruitment process, however, and evaluate prospects that are the best match for your company.

1. Evaluating Your Needs:

Finding the ideal candidate isn’t possible if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. It’s not enough to fill a vacancy. You’ll only invest time and resources into bringing in a new hire and end up having to start the hiring process all over in the future.

You need to find candidates with the right combination of qualifications, skills, experience, and attributes that align with your company’s mission, values, and culture.

First, identify the hard skills the job requires. These are the job-specific skills that can be taught, such as software development, graphic design, foreign languages, or copywriting. What does the candidate need to perform well?

Next, consider the personality traits and soft skills you want for the position. These are more “people skills” like communication, problem-solving, time management, and teamwork. These are generally skills that are transferable to all jobs, regardless of level or industry. Is it important for the candidate to be an independent type or a team-oriented performer, for example?

While it’s important to have an idea of what you need from a candidate for the position, be careful not to go overboard with the “nice to have” qualities. Everyone wants a “unicorn” candidate, but you will be going through a lot of applications to find one. Keep your expectations realistic to ensure you have a precise job posting that attracts the right people, rather than turning them away.

2. Effective Communication:

Communication is key in any recruitment process. Every interaction should reflect the role, responsibilities, and expectations outlined in the initial job posting, from the first touchpoint to the final interview and job offer.

Make sure your job descriptions are carefully crafted and provide a realistic snapshot of the role and day-to-day responsibilities. Remember, candidates will be using your job posting to determine if the job is the right fit and if they’re qualified for it. A fine-tuned posting will filter out unsuitable applicants and attract the most appropriate candidates.

There’s more than just the job posting, however. During interviews, make sure you’re keeping an open dialogue and encouraging candidates to ask questions and express concerns. Candidates have options, so companies are no longer in control. You have to make candidates feel comfortable and valued.

In addition, this communication will give you an idea of the candidate is the right fit within your company. Are they enthusiastic? Do they thrive in a fast-paced environment or prefer a calmer workplace? Do they have any insights into your current organizational challenges?

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Once each interview round is over, follow up with your candidates—even the ones that didn’t make it through. While they may not be a fit right now, they may be in the future, and how you treat each candidate reflects on your employer brand.

3. Treat Candidates Like Clients:

Just like customers, your candidates’ first impressions of your company are crucial. They’re trying to find the best company for their needs, just as you are trying to find the best candidate, and they should feel valued. Showing them that you’re excited about them as a candidate can mean the difference between an enthusiastic candidate and one who seeks other opportunities.

For example, be respectful of your candidates’ time. Make sure you’re on time for interviews and maintain open communication. Be friendly and personable in interviews and engage in a little small talk. If something happens and you need to reschedule, let them know as soon as possible and apologize for the inconvenience.

4. Incentivizing Participation With Gift Cards:

The job market is competitive. It can be hard to stand out, even if you’re offering competitive salaries and benefits packages.

One approach is to incentivize participation in the recruitment process using gift cards. With these incentives, you can enhance response rates and engagement levels. You can do this by offering a token of appreciation, such as a gift card, for participating in interviews or completing candidate surveys.

While this approach makes candidates feel appreciated, it also provides valuable information about their qualifications, skills, and experience. The promise of a reward can be encouraging for passive job seekers, leading them to participate actively in your recruitment process. As a result, you’ll have a wider pool of candidates.

You can also offer gift cards for work anniversaries, even for candidates. For example, you can do a small gift card to celebrate the final round of interviews or the first 30 days on the job for a new hire.

5. Structured Interviews:

A structured interview is a systematic approach to interviewing. You ask each candidate the same questions in a specific order, which gives you a consistent process to evaluate and compare each candidate. This also helps you make more objective comparisons between candidates and reduce personal biases that may affect the process.

For example, you can ask specific questions about job requirements, behavioral tendencies, and problem-solving skills that relate to the role. Once you have the answers, you can compare and contrast the candidates’ responses to see who’s most suitable for the role and who will perform best. It’s also a good opportunity to evaluate the candidates’ communication skills, creative thinking, and other soft skills.

Make sure you give candidates an opportunity to share feedback and ask questions within this structured interview. While this aspect won’t be identical across candidates, you can use their conversations to inform the selection process. The candidates’ questions and follow-ups can reveal a lot of information about their fit for the role, their experience, and what kind of future they imagine at your company.

6. Evaluating Cultural Fit:

Skills, qualifications, and experience are crucial to some roles, but they’re not the only thing to consider. Your company culture is an important consideration. Your culture refers to the shared values, behaviors, attitudes, and standards that comprise your work environment.

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Even the best candidate on paper could be a disaster if they’re not a cultural fit within your company. A candidate who aligns with your company’s values and style is more likely to succeed and stay loyal to your company.

For example, a candidate who comes from a startup environment may be used to wearing a lot of hats, so a corporate, hierarchical culture could create friction. Similarly, a candidate that thrives in a structured workplace may struggle with looser cultures that require more independence and initiative.

To assess cultural fit, ask questions about the candidates’ work environment and approach to collaboration and teamwork. You should also ask how they respond to feedback and criticism. If possible, phrase questions in the form of a hypothetical or real-world scenario to get more natural answers.

7. Reference Checks:

Reference checks are an important part of recruitment and act as the final step before the official hire. You have an opportunity to verify the candidate’s information and gain insights into their work history and past work performance.

When you’re conducting the reference checks, be sure to ask open-ended questions that require more detail than simple “yes” or “no” answers. For example, if you ask if a candidate was good at a job, the reference is likely to give a short answer. Asking for examples of times they exceeded expectations, areas they could improve, or their best and worst traits will give you much more insightful answers.


8. Look For A Career-Oriented Person:

The hiring process can be stressful, expensive, and time-consuming. When you’re evaluating candidates, look for employees who are likely to be loyal to the company and view your company as an opportunity to advance, ensuring that you’re investing in a long-term employee.

If you have a candidate who seems to juggle multiple careers or has jumped from company to company without good reason, it can be a red flag. Candidates who moved or switched careers are one thing, but someone who seems unsettled in any company may be quick to seek out other opportunities.

9. Don’t Stress the Details (Too Much):

Every company has an idea of what level of experience they want from a candidate, but don’t be too quick to eliminate candidates because they’re a few years shy of your ideal tenure. For instance, do you really need someone with eight to ten years of experience? Could they have the same skills in six or seven?

The same is true of some skills, such as experience with different enterprise software. For example, if a candidate has experience with multiple project management platforms, but not your specific platform, can they be taught? Is it worth putting in a few weeks of training if they have all the other skills you’re looking for?

10.) Test Your Candidates:

Most candidates practice interviewing, and the more they interview, the more confident they become. The same is true of resumes, cover letters, and pre-application tests. The responsibility to test them falls on you.

One of the ways you can improve this process is by evaluating their learning abilities and analytical skills. The goal isn’t necessarily to trick them or throw them off, but to give them an off-the-cuff question that gives them an opportunity to show off how resourceful they can be in the face of a challenge.

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11.) Consider An Intern:

Depending on the size of your organization, an intern can be a good interim solution to ensure that a candidate is the right fit before you’re committed. Over time, you will learn how they progress, what skills they have, how they cope with stress, and how they interact with others, all of which you can’t get from even multiple rounds of interviews.

If you do hire interns, make sure you don’t use them for only coffee and errands. While you’ll see a few skills, it won’t show you how they’d perform in a role. It may also leave a negative impression on them if they’re used as a “gofer.”

Give your interns some actual work to gauge their abilities and give them a glimpse of what it’s like day to day in your workplace. You’ll also save time by hiring someone you already have in your company instead of embarking on a new hiring process.

12.) Check Social Media Accounts:

Asking targeted questions during an interview can give you important clues as to the type of person a candidate is, but there are limitations. You’re not permitted to ask personal questions that make your candidate uncomfortable, and you may not get entirely truthful answers to every question.

However, checking their social media presence can give you insights into what kind of person they are. You should check all major platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn is a good way to learn about their skills and experience beyond their resume, as well as to see how they interact with their past and current employers and colleagues.

13.) Trust Your Instincts:

Objectivity is great in the hiring process, but don’t neglect your instincts. Making logical decisions is important, but you may get gut feelings about certain candidates—both positive and negative—that should inform your decision-making process.

For example, you may have an experienced candidate who excels at every question, but something tells you they’re not the right fit. That said, involving others in the decision-making process can ensure that you’re being selective based on intuition, not based on some unconscious bias.

14.) Learn From The Process:

Even if you find the perfect candidate, it’s unlikely to be the last time you have to hire. Use the experience to continue improving your hiring process. Asking your candidates for feedback on the process is a good start. You may need to make changes and tweaks until you find the right combination of strategies and methods.

15.) Improve Your Hiring Process:

Finding the right candidate for your company requires a lot of time, money, and effort, but it’s worth it for a candidate who’s an ideal fit, excels in the role, and is invested in your company. These steps can help you develop a more efficient and effective recruitment process that gives you a top selection of candidates for your organization.

Cindy MielkeAbout the Author:

Cindy Mielke is passionate about the incentive industry. In addition to her role as Vice President of Strategic Partners here at Tango, she is a Certified Professional of Incentive Management who proudly serves on two industry boards. When she’s not working, Cindy enjoys spending time with her family—including three cats, two dogs, and a horse—and sharing her love of nature as a Nebraska Master Naturalist.

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