How to Choose the Best Candidate for a Job Opening

Andrew Moran
Andrew Moran

Business and Finance Expert

A diverse group of people sitting in a waiting room
Andrey_Popov /

On average, the cost to hire an employee in the US is a little more than $4,000, and it takes approximately 42 days to fill the typical position. In other words, a business that is trying to compete in an ultra-competitive global economy will be spending finite resources to take on workers who may or may not fit in the company.

As a business owner, or hiring manager, your private firm has been burned too many times by both employees and applicants who you thought would be a great selection to have on your payroll.

A candidate fails to show up to an interview, a relatively new employee doesn’t show up to work anymore, and the intern you took a gamble on is on their phone half the day.

Labour will always be your biggest investment, so it is critical to employ the appropriate measures to ensure you’re getting a better return on your investment.

There is no other more challenging process for a company – large or small – than hiring workers. It is a big investment to tap into the vast talent pool and bring these professionals into your business. From salary to benefits to retention, labour can be expensive for any enterprise, especially in today’s global marketplace.

This is why it is essential to employ the best practices when recruiting candidates – and knowing if they’re a good fit in your large corporation or startup.

So, what can you do to make sure you’ve hired the best candidate? Here are seven tips.

1. Use a Checklist for Hiring

What are you looking for in an employee?

If you have a preconceived notion of what you want in a potential staff member, then it is important to write down these skills, qualities, qualifications and experiences.

The best way to take advantage of these professional characteristics is to make a checklist for hiring an employee, and then use this checklist when you’re interviewing the candidate.

Your checklist should include things like salary range, basic criteria for the job and suitability. You can check off each item by asking the applicant a series of questions, or you can find out the information on their CV.

2. Recruit Good Candidates First

The more, the merrier isn’t a wise strategy when looking for workers to hire.

You may believe in the laws of averages, but you don’t want to waste your limited resources on fate. Instead, you need to take matters into your own hands and recruit the good candidates first, which can be hard to perform, though it is certainly doable.

So, how do you recruit the good candidates first?

  • Understand what the responsibilities and duties of the position are.
  • Carefully peruse the CV of those who have made the shortlist.
  • Request applicants to fill in a Job Candidate Evaluation Form.
  • Ask your staff if they know anyone for the job.
  • Utilise the various modern-day HR tricks, like scanning social media or searching for keywords on CVs.

Moreover, by employing this tactic, you can establish and develop relationships with the applicants who made it to the semifinals, the quarterfinals or the top 10. Should there be another position available in the future, you can contact these individuals and find out if they’re available for the job.

3. Check References

Many businesses are still unaware of the power of references. Testimonials from previous employers are worth more than the greatest CV in the world, a stupendous job interview or an excellent application. In any job ad, the main request should be: ‘Please submit and bring three references’.

Once you have these references, this is what you should be asking, in addition to the basics of start and end dates, title and reason for leaving the company:

  • Did this person miss a lot of work?
  • Can you describe their experience with the business?
  • Did you ever evaluate their job performance and, if so, what was it like?
  • Would you rehire this person if the opportunity came up?
  • Could you give me any other information that would be valuable?

This is how you confirm references like a boss!

4. Seek Out Career-Oriented Candidates

There are different types of workers nowadays:

  • job hopper
  • paycheque seeker
  • complainer
  • career-minded.

We are sure there are others, but these are the ones that stick out the most.

Now, which one of these would you like to employ? It’s safe to say it is the career-oriented individual. And this is definitely the kind of person you want in your workforce because they want to develop, grow and be the best they can be at your firm. You don’t need to ask them to give their 110% because they will automatically go above and beyond – and do it well, too!

If someone has been at 10 different jobs in 5 years, then you know this is not the right fit.

5. Determine Their Soft Skills

An interesting trend is occurring in today’s labour market: a growing number of professionals are void of the key soft skills. While the young generation of workers is the most tech-savvy and educated in human history, they lack in other areas, leading to something called the soft skills gap.

These consist of:

  • communication (texting doesn’t count)
  • work ethic
  • adaptability
  • teamwork
  • punctuality.

Indeed, for the typical young worker, these may not seem important when you have just spent the last four years and $35,000 becoming a programmer or medical technician. That said, they are crucial aspects for most businesses today.

So, as an employer, you need to determine their soft skills. This can be accomplished through checking with references, interviewing candidates and providing real-life scenarios.

6. Consider Their Cultural Fit

One of the reasons why some companies become successful is their corporate culture. Edward Jones rewards hard work with the designation of ‘partner’, Airbnb turns its headquarters into a home setting, and Zappos institutes a holacracy approach – a decentralised management structure.

If you have a unique corporate culture, or you simply have a tight-knit group, then you need to decide if the prospect would fit in your office.

Will they negatively affect the fabric of your business? Will they isolate themselves in a corner and do their work? Will they bring toxicity to the culture and undo all the work you have achieved?

You don’t want someone to spoil everything!

7. Adopt Prescreen Interviews

Prescreen interviews can save a company a lot of time. Since spending days interviewing potential fits for your company, you are allocating valuable resources to something that could have been reduced to a single day. How to prevent this? That’s easy: adopt prescreen interviews.

A prescreen interview is done over the phone, and the candidate is asked the basics, such as salary expectations, qualifications and whether they fit within your culture. Rather than waste everyone’s time and money to come to a physical location to ask these questions, a telephone interviewer can do it.

If these applicants pass the initial prescreen interview, then they can move on to the face-to-face interview, which can then be used for more serious, complex and interesting questions and conversations.

This is just one more tactic to complement your overall candidate selection endeavour.

Knowing how to hire the right person isn’t an exact science. It takes plenty of different methods to search for the best man or woman for the job. Any business or HR professional who claims they have a fool-proof process of hiring the best candidate is either exaggerating or fibbing.

That said, there is a myriad of new techniques around to nab that ideal professional to help your company pad its bottom line. While it is easier said than done, you need to embrace the right recruitment strategy that suits your corporate efforts. When you have something that works and is obviously succeeding in your objective of hiring the best and brightest, never let it go.

Do you have anything you’d like to add? Join the conversation down below and let us know.