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Wouldn’t it be nice if the best job applicants came with a red neon arrow flashing overhead? Unfortunately, the hiring process can feel slightly more obtuse. Luckily, there are some telltale signs of a promising future team member — if you know where to look. Read on to learn four key traits and behaviors to look for when making a hire.
1. You Want Them to Want You
Cheap Trick’s well-loved lyrics go, “I want you to want me.” Making a hiring match is not so different. The best candidates demonstrate an active interest in getting the job. Of course, someone who cares will perform better, but it’s more than that: in weeding out the applicants who might settle for a job because it’s the only option at a particular point in time, you simultaneously zero in on applicants who believe in your work and your mission.
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The best candidates show excitement for your company, as well as for the opportunity itself. While enthusiasm can be faked to some degree, preparation cannot: keep an eye out for candidates who arrive ready to impress. From bringing an extra copy of a resume to preparing a list of questions about the job, these efforts indicate a candidate’s interest in a particular position. An applicant who is familiar with your company, its organization and even social media efforts is already leaps and bounds ahead of the uninformed candidate.
Not to mention: if a new hire was indifferent to getting the job from the onset, he/she may jump ship when something better comes along.
The saying goes, “Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” Clearly, she doesn’t want the job.
2. Keepin’ It Real
In what human relationship situation is genuine behavior NOT preferred? Just as honesty is preferable in personal relationships, it is equally preferable in professional ones. A good candidate should come across as honest, likeable and unafraid to show his/her true self.
While a candidate who comes off as canned or phony in an interview may not be a beneficial addition to your company, a candidate with a sense of humor who shows an ability to converse, willingness to improve, and general likeability offers great potential.
3. Show, Not Tell
This basic rule of the writing world carries seamlessly over to the hiring arena. A candidate can wax enthusiastic about his/her past accomplishments, but these claims are worth very little in the abstract. Candidates who can share measurable results are more promising — not only in terms of success at skills like meeting sales goals to landing accounts, but also in terms of drilling down on what matters and communicating it in a meaningful way.
After all, it’s one thing for a candidate to make grand claims about productivity and results in former jobs, but a candidate who can deliver quantifiable data stands out from the rest.
4. Moving Matters
While the increasing mobility of employees has added some flexibility, the general sentiment holds true: if a candidate has held multiple jobs over a short period of time (think six months to two years), alarm bells should be going off.
The old maxim cautions that, “The best predictor of past behavior is future behavior.” Whether or not the job jumper was fired or voluntarily moved on from previous positions, a track record of constant job flux doesn’t bode well for future longevity. In general, candidates who have stayed with employers at least two years are most likely to stick around — saving you time and money when they do.
But it’s not just staying that matters: seek out candidates who have also progressed in responsibility at their prior workplaces. After all, only the best employees receive promotions and raises.
While there’s no magic formula for predicting which applicants will become contributing members of your company, there are ways to weed out the inferior candidates and identify the potential high performers. And don’t forget: the more candidates your reach with your job postings, the more likely you are to find one who offers the best fit.