Amelia Herring

Knowing What You Need in a Candidate

Knowing What You Need in a Candidate
Amelia Herring

The current economic climate has made competition tough for job hunters but applications plentiful for firms.

With 3.8 million unfilled jobs in the U.S., where’s the disconnect? When you have an abundance of candidates to choose from, you still need to make sure you find the right person for the right job. So, how do you determine what you need in candidate?

Create a Job Profile

Before you even post the job opening, know what you’re looking for. Does a candidate need to possess certain technical skills? Will they follow standard instructions for every process? Will they need to think on their feet? Should they be able to handle complex situations?

Building job profiles allows you to set up your search, application, and interview processes to better get at the right candidate. In addition to a cognitive ability test, which is applicable to many positions, you’ll need to know whether to include other tests such as those that assess skills or counterproductive tendencies.

Measure Skills and Traits

Consider the skill sets of a bookkeeper versus an office manager. The bookkeeper needs more tactical skills related to mathematics, but the office manager needs the ability to handle complex business situations. In an ideal world, every applicant would possess the skills and traits you need in candidate. In practice, you end up with a mix of applicants ranging from under qualified to overqualified.

By determining the skills, personality and the cognitive capacity needed for each job, you essentially create a formula or model. Each position has a model for interview questions and assessments appropriate for that role, and candidates for each role are measured against the appropriate model. Using the positions from my example above, here are the tests you might use:

There might be some overlap between models, such as using the same personality or cognitive ability test. However, the appropriate cut scores for each test will be determined by the position, leading you to the most qualified candidates.

In addition, when you know you’re looking to fill two very different positions, your interview questions and evaluation system will reflect those differences. (For help on setting up a structured interview, download our free white paper: Structured Interviews: Why, What and How.)

One word of caution: Make sure all tests you use are job-related. This means you shouldn’t use a math test to screen general laborers, as in the recently settled case involving Leprino Foods.

Build Your Teams

The added benefit to knowing “what” you need in a candidate means that you also know what you need for your team. Assessments can help you fill gaps you have internally. Knowing this, you have an opportunity to hire someone who enhances your team’s productivity.

When you know what you need in candidate, and who is right for your team, you’ll have the direction you need to pick out the right person from all of the applicants!

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