5 Characteristics of a Standout Recruiting Candidate

What makes a job candidate stand out from the competition? Is it poise? Passion? A killer resume? A funny, creative wit? It just might be all those things … and more.

We turned to Dan Kelly, our VSAG resident authority on all things recruiting and recruiting services, for his top five characterizes that really make a recruiting candidate a standout in his book.

Here’s what Dan’s years as a recruiting professional have taught him to look for in the coveted “great candidate” category:

  1. Attention to Basics. To illustrate this point, Dan shares a favorite story; “I heard an interview years ago with a popular songwriter who early in his career asked a well-known studio musician what he had learned from being part of so many legendary sessions. The songwriter was expecting some amazing insider secrets, but was surprised when he simply replied, ‘I showed up on time, my equipment always worked, and I never talked back.’” Lesson learned, Dan says, great candidates have the basics down: they are always prepared, polite, professional … and on time.
  2. Responsibility.Leadership, Dan says, is a word widely used when speaking of desirable character traits. But to get a true sense of a candidate’s character, Dan asks them to describe a difficult situation with a guest or an employee, and makes his judgment of their performance and management ability based upon whether or not the candidate took responsibility for the success (or the failure) of that experience.
  3. Communication.This is absolutely vital to the success of any organization. Look for someone whose personality might mesh well with your team; seek someone who is a good communicator both verbally (i.e. speaks well; in clear and concise terms) and nonverbally (i.e. makes eye contact; good listening skills/body language).
  4. Passion. In Dan’s experience, he has found that “Passion = happiness.” Great candidates are enthusiastic and give off the impression that they can’t wait to get to work every day. He looks for candidates who speak proudly of their work, their accomplishments, and their dedication (and emotional investment) to their craft and career.
  5. Humility. Take note of candidates who use “we” more than “I.” You want team players that are ready and willing to become part of your team to learn, grow, and serve your business (and themselves) better. Also be conscious of body language here as well; rolling eyes, leaning back/crossing arms, and looking disinterested don’t signal modesty, but possibly arrogance. NOT a skill you’re seeking!

slide_3photo courtesy of Farmers Restaurant Group

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