Whether you’re an employer or a candidate, it’s important to consider what’s happening at both sides of the interview table. For an employer, do your best to consider putting a standardized evaluation system in place so you can more accurately compare candidates. For a candidate, it’s helpful to know what kinds of things employers are looking for you can successfully market yourself. Here are 5 things that I look for that candidates and employers can adopt and adapt for position-filling success.

1. The Hard Requirements

This is the very first thing I look at; it’s as obvious as the importance of correct spelling and grammar on a resume. If you don’t have the knowledge/skills/experience, you don’t fit the position. It’s possible for certain things to be appropriately transferrable or not-as-critical, but in either situation you’ll have to make a case for it.

  • Advice for employers: make sure your requirements are realistic
  • Advice for candidates: don’t waste your time on positions you don’t fit and be ready argue why you fit a position

2. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail comes out everywhere, it’s not just about spelling and grammar. It’s very rare that this is a make-or-break when evaluating a candidate, but it certainly raises red flags and provides an early-detected warning that a candidate might not make the impression I’m hoping for.

I look at what information they choose to present; how in-depth their reasons for leaving a company are, what they’re able to articulate about the products they’ve worked with, etc. Beyond communicating the extent of one’s knowledge base, it can convey that one knows what knowledge is actually important.

You can also look at how they’re attention to detail drops off, stays consistent, or improves, after you have their resume. Whether they consistent in their ability to write emails, provide documentation, be on time, etc.

  • Advice for employers: don’t make snap judgements on small mistakes, look for patterns
  • Advice for candidates: make sure you’re consistent and always putting your best foot forward

3. Job History

No one wants to hire a job hopper, and less often, some people get weirded out by loyal employees who stay at one place; usually with thoughts of “they might notadjust to how we do things after they did things one way for so long”. In my experience, it’s simply best for candidates to have the opportunity to explain their work history so that the decision to move forward is an educated one.

  • Advice for employers: ask for reasoning before making a decision
  • Advice for candidates: make good decisions, and be able to properly support them

4. Future Goals / Plans

This is a tricky one, and only gets trickier as millennials move into the labour market, but that’s a whole other conversation. If a small business needs a Manager who reports directly to the owner, a candidate who feels their last job had no growth opportunity isn’t going to work out long term. Even with a pay bump, they’re going to feel stagnant in 2 years unless the company is fortunate enough to grow in a way that increases the responsibility of the position.

On the flip side, I often see people who worked their way to the top and then want to step down to lower responsibility because they want to prioritize other areas of life like family time, caring for parents, finishing building the cottage, or avoiding divorce. Companies are often concerned when candidates want a step down, but what if they were always working and missed their kids growing up and want to make up for lost time?

  • Advice for employers: have a plan for how a person in this position will develop
  • Advice for candidates: know what you’re looking for and wait until you find it

5. Culture Fit

This boils down to 2 things; the layover test, and social effectiveness. 

If you couldn’t spend a 2-hour layover with the person, why would you bring them onto your team where you’ll have to be around each other for 40 hours per week.

If one doesn’t click with the team, they won’t be socially effective. Some positions require certain personalities, and if your social skills won’t bridge gaps, you won’t succeed.

  • Advice for employers: know your team and know how they work together
  • Advice for candidates: be yourself; if it doesn’t work now, it won’t work in the future

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