5 ways to identify the perfect candidate for your job

It's expensive to hire employees, so make sure you hire the right candidate.

Every employer wants to hire the best candidate, but there are a number of steps they must take before that happens. Failing to hire the right candidate can cost a company a lot of money. A study conducted by the Center for American Progress found that the cost to replace someone making $30,000 a year is 16 percent of their annual salary. That number jumps to 20 percent for those making between $30,000 and $50,000 and 213 percent for executives making three figures.

As you can see, it's critical that managers know how to identify the right candidates. Here are five things they should consider before and during the interview:

"The cost to replace someone making $30,000 a year is 16 percent of their annual salary."

1. Ensure the candidate listens to instructions
You may think you found the perfect candidate because they have technical expertise and leadership potential. But it could be a bad hire if the person can't take direction well. A great way to test a candidate's ability to listen to instructions is by asking them specific questions as part of the application process. Here's a few questions you could ask:

  • Ask candidates to write a unique cover letter that addresses several key points. This allows you to both evaluate how well they listen to instructions and their expertise in the subject matter.
  • At the bottom of the application, ask applicants to include certain materials in their application, such as writing samples or references. By inserting this request in the bottom of the resume, you're testing their reading comprehension, which is an important trait in a qualified candidate.
  • During the phone screen, ask specific questions related to the candidate's background and gauge how well they answer the questions.

Ensuring a candidate can follow instructions should give you confidence they can carry out requested tasks and work well with others.

Conduct a comprehensive interview process when looking for the right candidate.Conduct a comprehensive interview process when looking for the right candidate.

2. Match the candidate to the job description
Employers don't just want to find the perfect candidate, they want to find a candidate that:

  1. Fits within the job's salary range.
  2. Can grow and learn quickly.
  3. Will quickly help the team in meaningful ways.

"Simplify your hiring process by weeding out candidates who aren't the right fit."

The hiring process is often long and complex, and more often than not, employers have to cycle through a number of candidates before they hire the right person. You can simplify your hiring process by weeding out candidates who aren't the right fit. To do so, remove applicants from consideration who don't have the right amount of industry or technical experience. Matching candidates to the job description can save companies time and money.

3. Look beyond just their technical experience
Once you've compiled a short list of candidates, it's time to look beyond the resume and conduct additional research on the applicants. You can do so by reading through their social media accounts and, if they have one, blogs or other published material. 

This extra research can:

  1. Help you form a more complete picture of the applicant: Check for red flags that might cause you concern. 
  2. Give you a better idea of who they are outside of work: If you and the candidate have the same alma mater, bring this up in the phone screen! It's a great ice breaker. 
  3. Provide you a more in depth look at their job history: Resumes give employers a brief glimpse into the candidate's professional background, but a LinkedIn profile, for example, providers candidates with more space to freely describe what they did and why. This type of detailed information can help you conduct a more thorough phone screen.

4. Evaluate the questions candidates ask
One of the best ways to test whether the applicant is truly interested in the position is by evaluating the types of questions they ask. It's not frowned upon if they ask the hiring manager a simple question such as "How do you determine success?" But this is a common, over-used inquiry. Questions that hone in on their specific job responsibilities or the company itself will better showcase how they fit into the company's long-term plans.

High-level questions also show the candidate has great listening skills, has done his or her research on the company and industry and cares deeply about how they can make an impact. 

5. Always ask for references
Most of the time, employers will request to speak with a candidate's references, but sometimes they don't. It's a big mistake if a hiring manager bypasses this crucial step. Even if you believe an applicant is the perfect fit for your company, talking with references can reaffirm your line of thinking and make you feel better about your hiring decision. Bringing a professional on board is an expensive process, so you want to make sure you conduct the most exhaustive search possible.

As you've found, it's crucial that employers identify the right candidate on the first go-around. Making a mistake in the hiring process can not only result in hire hiring fees, but also a potential reduction in profits as your teams struggle to produce the same, necessary amount of work despite being down one person. Take your time, do your research, and you'll find someone who can help lead your company for years to come.


Hiring is the most important thing you do. Trust it to Global HR Research. Find out more by calling 1-800-790-1205 or visiting the GHRR website today.

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