Nice suit, shame about the person – The importance of clear candidate specifications
I am sure if you are an employer, you have encountered a situation where you interview someone, and it becomes perfectly clear that they are not suitable within the first few minutes. It’s a difficult situation because the candidates tend to sense it as well, but you both go on with the interview while being pretty sure that it is going nowhere. These things sometimes happen, and often it is actually a positive thing in the long run because it can help avoid a bad hire. However, it is also a bit of a waste of time that can sometimes be avoided by clarifying some of the criteria used to assess the suitability of the candidate.
Matching client needs
We do our best to match client needs, after all, that is our job, so here are some areas where it really helps us reduce the possibility of an unsuitable recommendation.
- Personality and temperament are often a factor. The more you can tell us about the kind of person you are looking for, the better. Clearly, there are certain restrictions from a legal perspective, but if the job role is really suited to certain personality traits then include them in the information. Key personal skills such as perhaps being able to work under their own initiative or having the ability to convert complex information into plain English are really important to know.
- Give yourself the opportunity to test the personal skills you want. For example, if you need someone with a real attention to detail, set a test in advance that gives them an opportunity to demonstrate they have the skills they need.
- How flexible is flexible? Sometimes we get descriptions that will say there is flexibility or potential for development in a required skill. This is often a sticking point because it can be about the degree of flexibility and how much training is on offer. It really helps if a little qualification of the statement is added, defining how flexible, flexible actually is.
- Is it as strict as it sounds on the job description? The flexibility issue can sometimes go the other way. When we are faced with a job description that very strictly required certain skills, we will work to those skills as much as possible. It is worth perhaps having a second review of your required skills, particularly in times of low unemployment, where getting a good candidate is a little harder to achieve, and asking if you could add a little flexibility or training.
- Prioritise your priorities where possible. What we mean by prioritising your priorities is that some skills and abilities may well be so important that they outweigh all the others. An even playing field is only necessary when everyone is evenly matched, so if you really need someone with a high level of skill in a particular software or process, make that very clear on the specification.
- Match the candidate to your company ethos. In the end, the best candidate with all the right skills is still a bad hire if they don’t fit your company goals.
The clearer the specification, the better the candidates. Sometimes there is a fear that over-clarification will mean a smaller pool to choose from. This is honestly not the case. What it will do is allow us to pre-assess the candidates and offer you choices that are in and around your target area within the right parameters.
When the interview comes up for a candidate, they will put on their best suit and come along to the meeting in the belief that they stand a good chance of getting the job, and that is what we are trying to facilitate. The more information we have, the less chance there is that the nice suit is the only striking thing about the candidate you interview.