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Improving Candidate Quality: Three Steps to Finding the Best Fit for Your Role

The candidate looked good on paper, said all the right things during your interviews and received favorable references. So you offered them the job, they accepted and you celebrated. Exciting, right? But to your disappointment, when onboarding was over and your new hire started working, they simply couldn’t deliver on the potential they conveyed during the hiring process.

Finding the best fit for a job isn’t easy, especially in a time crunch. Of course, when it works like it’s supposed to, it’s a great feeling — but when it doesn’t, you must either live with the situation or correct it later down the road, and that’s not pleasant for anyone.

If you’ve ever experienced a situation like this, you’re probably wondering how you can prevent making unqualified hires in the future and improve your candidate quality when hiring. Here are some tips on how to find the right match — and avoid making hires you might later regret.

Create clear job criteria to assess candidate quality

You may come across a resume that looks perfect for the role. But looks aren’t everything, and you shouldn’t let a resume that seems awesome on the surface trick you into thinking this candidate is “the one.” So why not apply a little bit of rigor to the process? Create criteria checklists for reviewing resumes so you can verify candidate quality and make sure they have what you need.

To develop criteria checklists, compile the essential functions and qualifications of the the job you’re filling, and review them with others in the organization who manage and/or perform this role. Then create two checklists, and use these to analyze each resume you receive:

  1. Checklist 1: Minimum requirements, or “must-haves.” Minimum requirements help you screen candidates out. Depending on your organization, failing to check even one of the boxes on this list could disqualify a candidate. The checklist should include:
  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Attributes
  • Work experience
  • Licenses and certifications
  • Education level (lowest level you would consider for the role)
  1. Checklist 2: Preferred qualifications, or “nice-to-haves.” Preferred qualifications help you screen candidates in. The more criteria you have on this list, the broader the applicant pool — and the more of these criteria a candidate meets, the more likely they are to be a good match. Your checklist should be similar to the “must-haves” list but include preferred “nice-to-haves” instead.

Screen for red flags

No matter what job you’re trying to fill, you want to look for candidate resumes that present a neat, professional summary of the applicant. Make sure to review resumes and other application materials to look for problem areas that point to low candidate quality like being unprofessional, unqualified or potentially misrepresenting themselves. Look out for the following issues, as they may correspond to larger problems:

  • Resumes not customized to what the posting asked for could show laziness or a lack of enthusiasm or that the candidate isn’t interested in this job, just “any job.”

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