A Human Resource department may receive numerous applications for the same job, and many of those applicants are all very qualified.  With all these great candidates available, how do you determine who is the best fit?

Employee not right for the jobYou’ve probably had your share of unsettling surprises when it comes to new hires. A seemingly efficient, eager applicant can sometimes transform inexplicably into a dawdling, employee. Or, an apparently conscientious, caring job seeker may gleefully join the team then soon start wreaking havoc upon an entire department. The gratification that comes with taking on the challenges of leadership in the Human Resources department is undeniable – but so are the headaches! Maintaining harmony, struggling to meet everyone’s needs, listening to complaints and upholding others to stringent policies are probably all tasks typically undertaken throughout the course of your day. 

Wouldn’t it be great if there were ways to make your job a little easier? There are. 

Identifying the right candidate for your specific job and environment is no easy task especially given the sea of applications that typically surges when a “Help Wanted” ad is placed; however, this objective can be accomplished more readily if certain strategies are applied. For example, if an applicant tells you that he or she is cooperative and conscientious, ask for verifiable and specific examples of these traits. 

Evaluate your workplace and decide which characteristics you are looking for in an employee. You may have already learned the hard way that the most seemingly ideal candidate can prove disappointing if he or she is incompatible with your environment and/or work culture. What you don’t know can (and probably will) hurt you, so it is vital to pose the right questions and seek substantiation of any claims. A job candidate’s answers can be telling — if you know how to read between the lines! 

For example, be wary of applicants who spend time talking about how self-sufficient they are, if you are looking for a very accommodating individual. Independently minded people often want plenty of freedom to work without much supervision, and they usually dislike having to follow a lot of rules. Ask your candidate if he or she prefers working in a structured environment where objectives and expectations are made clear or an unstructured one, where he or she is left to fill in the blanks. If the answer is an emphatic “I want to fill in the blanks”, this is indicative of a more self-directing individual. Do not attempt to micromanage this person. 

There are a number of ways to better assess your candidates’ probable characteristics, strengths, weaknesses, and work approach. References can often shed some light, and former employers may also recount incidents that might be of particular interest to you. But keep in mind that these people may or may not be objective in their representation of your candidate. Because of this, many companies prefer to use written behavioral assessments that are based on a candidate’s answers to a simple questionnaire. Some of these profiles can even compare the traits of potential employees to those of your ideal employees and rate both job and environmental compatibility. 

The key to hiring the right person for the job lies in knowing your needs and looking beyond the interview. Dig a little deeper. Doing so might prove to be the biggest long-term investment you’ve ever made!

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