How Strong Does A Candidate Have to be to Get Hired?

May 9, 2019

When making hiring decisions, the ideal scenario is finding a candidate who checks all the right boxes and is a clear and obvious fit for the role, right? Of course.

But as we all know, that’s more often than not a very tall order to fill and sometimes even impossible, depending on how extensive the list of requirements is that you’ve built into the job position and your ideal candidate profile. And let’s not even get started on the hard-to-describe “culture fit” that is part of hiring decisions nowadays too.

Since it’s unreasonable to expect that every single hire you make will fulfill all requirements completely, what inevitably happens is that instead of waiting for the “perfect candidate” to come through the door, hiring managers often “settle” for the strongest candidate at the moment and hope for the best. The question is then…

Where do you draw the line and decide a candidate is strong enough? What tips the scales on a candidate who’s a “maybe”, to a “yes, let’s hire him/her?”

To answer this we first have to explore a couple of things. First, your hiring criteria:

A solid hiring criteria leads to a better hire

The hiring criteria – having one and fulfilling it as closely as possible – is at the root of any great hire. Think of your hiring criteria as your perfect checklist in a new hire that includes any education, specific past experience, soft skills, and work personality requirements that you “must have”.

And since your job description is your “pitch” to job candidates about for what you’re looking for, making sure your hiring criteria is represented in your job listing is a crucial step for attracting the right candidates.

Once your job listings have done their work and attracted some applicants, the ball is in your court to actually vet job applicants on how well they fit your hiring criteria from a skills perspective AND a culture / personality fit perspective.

The phone screen and interview process all help flesh out more details for both perspectives of your hiring criteria that might not be obvious on a resume, such as the applicant’s demeanor, bearing, and attitude. You could also build in some specific questions around their friendliness, punctuality, and resourcefulness to see if they fit into your company’s culture.

How much of the criteria does a candidate need to fill?

At one point do you compromise on your hiring criteria for an OK candidate? It usually comes down to:

  1. how urgently you need to fill the role
  2. whether what the candidate “lacks” is something you can deal with, and
  3. how willing you are to risk missing out on a better candidate if you stopped looking

You may already be making this assessment without even knowing it as you’re making your hiring decisions. What’s helps in making this assessment is knowing what competency areas to look out for and prioritize, depending on what your company’s needs are:

  • Required skills. Required skills are hard stops in a job description – like having a medical degree if you’re going to be a doctor, it’s a non-negotiable. So if a candidate doesn’t have the required skills you’re looking for or can’t show proof, that candidate probably isn’t worth fighting too hard for.
  • Proven soft skills. Unless the job you’re looking to fill is one of a robot, the ideal candidate has certain soft skills alongside your hard skill requirements. Things like attitude, communication, listening skills, resourcefulness and eagerness to learn all count as soft skills that can tip scales for or against a candidate.
  • Company culture fit. Company culture is driving more decisions now than ever because it is so unique to each company. How a candidate’s overall personality will add to, detract from or complement your company’s existing company culture is yet another important thing to consider when you’re on the fence about that potential hire.

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Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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