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Sara's Criteria for a Hireable Candidate


First, a quick background: I started Human Resources in 2007. Last year, I moved into recruiting briefly before becoming the marketer for On Time Capital. I was quoted in SHRM's February issue and I write recruiting blogs almost daily. I have a Bachelor's degree from Purdue University in Business Administration with an emphasis on Human Resources. Although teased for my selection process, through my career, I have never selected a candidate that was fired. I was asked to share my process.

First is the resume and/or application. Any that have a mistake immediately get tossed out. A resume is an incredibly important document that could forever alter the course of your life. It could secure you the career you've always wanted. If you can't take the time to be sure everything is perfect, then you don't want the job enough. I do not tolerate information in the wrong location, incorrectly filled out, missing information, spelling errors, typing errors, poor grammar, etc. Out they go.

Next are references. I like to see variety: a coworker, a manager, and some other professional reference, such as a former coworker or subordinate. Those who provide a reference sheet with their resume get bonus points. It shows they believe their resume would be worth my time, so they went ahead and provided the next step, saving me time. It also shows they believe in being prepared.

When I call the references, they should be expecting my call and have their statements prepared. Again, this should be a big deal for the candidate, obtaining the ideal job. The references should be professional and honest. If all the references refuse to say anything bad about the candidate, that sends up a warning signal. The same goes when I speak with the candidate; it's perfectly acceptable that no human being is perfect, so it should not be an issue to admit shortcomings.

I'm not expecting anything big -- like being addicted to crack -- but something, anything. I don't want them to try to spin it into a positive, either, even though many websites try to say otherwise. We should always be trying to improve and grow, and it's hard to do that when you don't see that you need improving. Personally, I'm messy. Absolutely everything in my office is clean; I even wash the ceiling once a season. My desk, though, looks horrible. I have notes, notes about my notes, pictures, sketches, and more. I know where everything is, so if someone touched my desk, I'd be lost, but I acknowledge that it is a shortcoming I need to work on.

For the interview, I like to see all the things everyone know they should be doing, such as dressing professionally and being well-groomed. While this seems obvious, I once had someone come to an interview in their pajamas. Pink pajamas with fluffy bunnies on them. I love bunnies, but... no.

During the interview, I can ignore nerves, but I look for personality. I want to know who they are. While we may try to separate our personal and professional lives, they often cross over, so I like to know what I'm in for. Anyone who doesn't open up at all is not someone who works out. My goal is to have the company be like a family; we can't do that if the candidate is going to remain separate from the others.

When it's possible, I like to take the potential employee on a tour of the company. This allows for our current employees to meet and evaluate. The more I respect a current employee, the more important their feedback is to me.

For me, personally, it all comes down to my instinct. My instinct has never once been wrong. The moment I meet someone, if I don't like them, I don't want to hire them. The rest of the process is so I have a legitimate reason to put on paper. At a prior job, my manager quickly learned that she could trust my decisions. She would bring people in for an interview, but the interview was kept short. Afterward, she would ask me for a "yes" or "no." A "yes" meant the candidate could proceed; the "no" meant "Thanks, but we decided to go in another direction."

Everyone has their own process, and as long as it works, that's what matters. This is mine, and it's never failed me. We'd love to hear how you determine a good candidate; let us know in the comments below or by posting to our social media.


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