Is Your “Perfect Candidate” Really Out There?

It’s easy for department heads and HR teams alike to get caught up in the notion of the “perfect candidate.” But in reality, people are only human, and it would be exceptionally rare to find someone who is truly “perfect” for a particular role. Instead, focus on finding someone who is an excellent fit.

Define Your Ideal Candidate

Start by defining exactly what your “perfect candidate” would look like. What’s their educational background? How much experience do they have? Which specific hard skills and soft skills do they have? What are their values? How do they approach their work?

Prioritize Your Wish List

Now, figure out which factors on your list are actually the most important. Maybe a welding certification is non-negotiable, but you could train someone to drive a forklift. Or perhaps you’re hoping for someone who has previously worked with artificial intelligence, but it isn’t strictly relevant to the position you’re filling. Focus on meeting your top two or three requirements, rather than holding out for someone who ticks all the wish list boxes.

Lean on Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is arguably one of the most important factors in a successful hire. Your perfect candidate doesn’t have to be a yes man (or woman) who will automatically agree with everything you say. But your new hire should share your overall values and approach to work. For example, an overachiever will never be truly happy in a more laid-back workplace. Yet someone who believes in clocking out exactly on time every day is not the right fit for an environment where long days are the norm.

Look for Trainability and Eagerness to Learn

Ultimately, you can teach most hard skills, such as machine operation. But only if your new employee is willing to learn. If you’re having trouble finding someone who already knows how to do the job, look for a trainable candidate instead. Someone who values learning and enjoys a challenge will be well suited not only for the current position, but also for whatever the future might hold.

Focusing on trainability will also expand your candidate pool. Maybe a stay-at-home mom who is reentering the workforce will turn out to be your perfect candidate. Or perhaps you’ll hire an older worker who was stuck in one job for a long time, but is now ready to branch out and try something new.

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