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Don’t rely on luck: How to select the best job candidates

It takes more than luck to select and hire the right candidates

This St. Patrick’s Day we’d all love to have the luck of the Irish and choose from a pot of golden candidates for current open positions. As nice as this would be, it’s going to take more than luck to select and hire the right candidates.

Once you’ve got a pool of resumes in hand, how do you decide which candidates are the best of the bunch? If you’re like most companies, you’ll rely on a series of poorly structured interviews, guesswork and a bit of hope. You may get it right. Or you may end up right back where you are now.

Are you lucky.jpgYou need a better game plan

Trying to pick out the best candidates should be as easy as comparing apples to oranges. Unfortunately, many searches falter from the very start by relying on a manager’s “gut feeling” about what the job requires. This spills over into candidate ratings and perceptions. To make the best choice, you need to take the subjectivity out of your decision-making processes.

Before you solicit candidates, it’s important to understand what’s required to succeed in a role – not only from a skills perspective, but from a behavioral and cognitive standpoint. Consider it a “role recipe.” For example, which traits are important for the job? How will your ideal candidate function in your job environment, and what will that experience be like for him or her? It’s important to understand how a person will perform in the role, but also as part of the team and as a part of your organization.


What the heck is a behavioral assessment?! We break down what these assessments are and how to use it to successfully hire top talent in our Ultimate Guide to Behavioral Assessments eBook.


Before you begin swapping notes about who’s the best candidate, ask yourself the following questions:

• What does this job really involve?

• What skills are required to succeed?

• What type of person will excel at this type of work?

• How do those behavioral types complement your company objective and culture?

hiring using personality test.jpgTake into consideration your overall growth objectives and current state

Certain people are born entrepreneurs. They are creative, motivated, think outside of the box, challenge the status quo and are not afraid to take risks. These are the people who are willing to give their all in exchange for fulfilling their dream. When you’re in business growth mode, these are the people you want.

Hiring entrepreneurs requires a different strategy than hiring other talent. You need to sell them not on security, long-term employment, and benefits, but rather on potential – being part of a growing business that has the promise for success. This isn’t about small success, creating a legacy, making a difference, and being a part of something huge. The people who have that potential know who they are.


If you already have an organization stocked full of entrepreneurial types, adding more isn’t likely to bring you more success, especially if you don’t have people around to help them execute. When you’re ramping up your business, you don’t only want entrepreneurs — you need other talent to balance them out. Just like you don’t want too many cooks in a kitchen, you need people who are willing to sweat the details, do the prep work, clean up the mess, and roll up their sleeves.

work hard play hard.jpgHow do you find them?

Use behavioral and cognitive tools to clear the fog. Removing any potential bias from the selection process should be your primary goal. While gut reactions may be helpful in choosing what you think you want, they’re counterproductive and potentially inappropriate when it comes to finding the best candidate.

Assessments can be very helpful at this phase for getting to know your candidates, beyond what you can learn on paper or in an interview. They can help you drill down on the soft skills –innate vs. the hard skills – which are often learned. Soft skills can include the ability to thrive in chaos or in a highly-structured environment, or work well independently without much direction or in a highly-collaborative environment. A resume is the product of a biased author, while interviews can be very subjective. When you’re looking to attract the right candidates, you’ll want to look at personality, culture, learning ability, and values, while having an objective resource like assessment data to guide you.

Are your top candidates likely to be rigid perfectionists? Are they master ninjas of a certain skill? Are they good enough to rise to the top despite your flat environment? Why not bring back some of that information you collected from the assessment to determine the best candidate? By recycling some of that early data, you can increase the accuracy of your decision and make better comparisons between different candidates. May the luck of the Irish (and some sound selection and hiring strategies) be with you!

luck of the irish.jpg

Elsbeth is the content and community manager at PI.

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