How to Choose the Best Candidate

By Sean Gordon

Another one bites the dust. It can be frustrating sorting through resume after resume. It takes a while to narrow down your candidate selections in your pipeline before you begin bringing people in for in-person interviews. Traditional resumes often don’t tell the full story of a candidate. Truthfully, they can be problematic because it’s part of human nature to over-exaggerate or possibly over-glorify a simple role. Well, it can be hard to tell whether someone will fit into your culture by relying solely on a piece of paper.

Today, let’s focus on more non-traditional techniques that dive deeper than a resume to find incredible employees. Here are a few tips on how to choose a candidate for your company without relying solely on a resume:

1. Pay attention to the details.

Candidates usually begin a hiring process by starting an application. In industries with high applicant entries, it is important for recruiters to handle filtering through a high amount of applications. As a hiring manager, what qualities do you look for when identifyi\ ng differential applicants? Personalized applications and resumes tailored to the open position lets you see if the applicant is willing to take the time to apply for the specific open position. Along with adding a personal touch, do your applicants include a cover letter or a follow-up email or phone call a few days after applying? Details matter. When you have a candidate that is taking the time to go above and beyond the minimum requirements, they may be someone you are interested in moving through your hiring process.

Another way to weed out applicants is to request a special detail be added into either their application or their cover letter. This could be something as simple as adding a hashtag or statement to the bottom of their cover letter to ensure that they take the time to pay attention to details.

2. Go deeper than the question. 

You’ve now selected all of your applicants to move to the next step in the hiring process. At this point, you are probably getting ready to bring candidates in for an in-person interview. You want to bring them in and ask them the standard interview questions, including specific examples from their previous work experience. But, even this doesn’t always tell the full story of a candidate’s experience. You want to get to know the candidate better.

At vidREACH, our Business Development team makes up a large portion of the company. When interviewing for this role, we always want to make sure that our potential candidates are able to communicate effectively with prospects. Can these candidates communicate through a digital platform as well as on the phone? Are they confident and excited? Do they have the basic qualifications for the role? Do they get along with the rest of the team members?

We strive to ensure that not only are candidates a good fit for the role they are applying for, but we want to know if they add value to our culture. A great way to measure this is to have them sit with or chat with current team members to get a feel for how they will integrate into the team.

3. Check with references.

More than likely, you already ask your applicant for work references. If you don’t, it is a good idea to start doing so. Here’s why: Your candidate’s references will be able to express more accurately how the candidate will fit into your culture. It is important to ask references about work experience and work ethic. But don’t be afraid to ask about a candidate’s humor, how they handle stress, their strengths, how they engage with other team members or management, or what they are passionate about. Think critically about what matters to your organization and what is valuable to your company culture. Use these as a guide to start the conversation with references.

4. Do a trial run.

If you have a candidate that you are excited to potentially extend an offer to, you want to ensure that they are the right fit. It is better to invest a little more time in ensuring this candidate is the right fit before potentially investing in training and compensation. A great way to ensure that your candidate is qualified for the position is to give them a trial run project. For example, if you were hiring a graphic designer, give them a small project to design, preferably something you already have in your content library that may need a facelift, like a social graphic or blog header image. This allows you to see promptness, attention to detail, creativity, and their ability to design according to your brand guidelines. This is a quick way to ensure that the candidate is ready to step into the role they are applying for before you make a formal offer.


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