How to recognise a good applicant

Hadewych Van Middelaar

Selection procedures have one major pitfall: they favour applicants that are great at interviews. Here are six tips when choosing a candidate.

How to recognise a good applicant

On paper, an applicant could look like the perfect candidate. But how does one know for sure if they will fit well within the team or that they will be equipped sufficiently to do the job?

1. Don’t choose your double

When you notice similarities between yourself and a candidate, it’s easier to make a personal connection with them often resulting in you hiring that individual. Or if they resemble a colleague that you are appreciative of, same outcome. However great that sounds, a successful team does not consist of twenty twin siblings. Diversity is key, and we’ll tell you why. When each person has different qualifications and knowledge base, they complement each other. You can help each other. Take a gamble and give somebody candidates that are different a chance. There is a huge possibility that they have something great to offer the team or company. Something that has been missing.

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2. Use referral recruitment

Involving your employees helps find talent that you might otherwise miss out on. They might already be working at your competition or not actively looking for a new job or a new challenge. Referral recruitment will provide a great first selection. Referred employees often fit better within the organisational culture. Above all, it gives the employees a sense of value that they are being heard.

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3. Don’t be blinded by hard skills

 All anybody wants is the best candidate. Be that as it may, try to focus on more than just ‘who has the best knowledge and skills’. There’s a lot to be said for somebody with a positive attitude, somebody easy to collaborate with. So, look beyond professional competence. Look for somebody that is self-aware, socially intelligent and a good fit within the team.

4. Watch what people do, not say

We’ve all seen the online frequently asked questions preparing people for a job interview. As everyone uses these questions, candidates prepare socially desired answers. What you want is to see how somebody reacts in actual practice. Ask for concrete examples of how they have handled similar situations in the past. We suggest you apply the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, Result.


5. Let teams choose their colleagues

Utilise the expertise of the team members that will have to work with the new employee. Let them think about the job requirements and be present during the interviews. They know better than anyone else which competences are required within the team. They can best judge who is most competent for the task. Once employees see that their opinions are valued within the company, their commitment and loyalty will expand.

6. Organise a test run

The best way to reveal whether or not somebody is up for the task at hand is a test run. Allow promising candidates to participate in a task or let them shadow an employee for a few hours. This also helps candidates determine whether or not they actually fit in with your company. All in all, it’s a win-win situation.

 If you finally meet your match, stay in contact. Test if new employees have established a firm position within the company, gotten off to a good start and have been trained accordingly to do the job right. The end goal is to have great applicants want to stay put within your company.