• Jim Canfield

Identifying Winning Candidates



Before you can hire a winner for a key position you must identify a pool of potential winners who are a good match for your specific jobs.


Defining the Job


To identify the kind of person you need for a particular job, write a job specification, not a job description. The job specification outlines the characteristics of the position and identifies the skills, knowledge, and abilities the candidate must have to succeed.


It paints a clear, comprehensive picture so you know exactly what to look for when sourcing and interviewing applicants.


Include these criteria:

  • Must have skills and experience to do the job

  • Nice-to-have skills and experience

  • Amazing-to-have skills and experience that will set the candidate apart


Try to limit your must-haves to three or four key points based on facts or experience—or you may disqualify the entire universe of candidates!


Take Time to Google Them


Why not Google each candidate? You may learn some interesting things that could help you decide whether to interview a candidate. For example, you may discover that the candidate is involved in charitable activities, which you might count as a plus. Or, you might discover some things that could be detrimental or embarrassing to the company and decide to eliminate the candidate from consideration.


Consider Their Personality


You might consider using one of the many personality or psychological assessment tools available. Some tests are more data-driven and present the candidate in a detailed manner; others are more visually oriented and represent the candidate in graphs and charts. Use the format that you’re most comfortable reviewing.


An assessment is not a tool to use to make a final hiring decision. It’s most valuable when you compare the results of the assessment with your own impression of candidates during interviews. Some candidates are good at interviewing, and a skilled interviewee may be able to mask or hide issues that an assessment tool would bring to light.


Contact References


Checking references is an important step, but don’t expect to get much detail about the person. Today, many companies are afraid of lawsuits and have advised supervisors to offer only the barest of information about their former employees. Geoff Smart, co-author of WHO, refers to a technique he calls TORC, which stands for threat of reference check. Using this technique, ask the candidate what he or she thinks a reference would say if contacted: “I’d like to ask your reference, Mary Smith, about your prospecting ability. What do you think Mary will tell me?”


The TORC approach accomplishes two things. First, it lets candidates know you’re serious about them and plan to ask their references specific questions (of course, a reference may decline to answer). And second, it sheds light on what a candidate thinks the reference will say. Both are very valuable.


For managers and other higher-level hires, it’s smart to conduct a social interview. Take the candidate to lunch or dinner. For senior team members, include their spouse or significant other at a dinner. Observe how the candidate interacts with others, including the wait staff. Charles “Red” Scott a legend in the business world, said, “I can tell a lot about a person by how they treat a waiter or other service staff.”


Strive to be a company with a great culture, and you’ll become a talent magnet. Set your sights on being a place where people want to work and love to work—and your employees will talk up your company to your entire community! And don’t forget to toot your own horn both loud and frequently on all your communication platforms.

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