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How to answer the question “What’s your ideal Candidate?”

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

Got a vacancy to fill? Chances are, you’ve already got a good idea of what you don’t want from a Candidate. However, when it comes to penning a job description, determining the unique combination of qualities that make for your ideal Candidate can pose more of a challenge.

Before you start quizzing a shortlist of hopefuls on why they might be right for the role, it’s usually a good idea to have a clear image of your perfect Candidate in mind. A word of warning: the perfect Candidate may not exist. Your mission -  should you choose to accept it - is to find the most suitable person in the jobs market, be they actively seeking Employment, or passively browsing opportunities.

Naturally, the longer the recruitment process lasts, the more likely your answer is to change along the way. Having pored over a pile of applications and held several interviews, your image of the “ideal Candidate” may evolve to incorporate personality traits and additional “nice-to-have” skills, that you hadn’t previously considered.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, and decide what you hope to achieve through this hire, and who will help the business achieve its objectives.

Identify skills gaps

In order to find the right person for the role, it’s wise to start with a skills assessment. At this key stage, recruiting managers should not only ask themselves what skills are currently missing within the department, but which skills will be needed for the firm to thrive in the future.

Drawing up a skills matrix can help prevent recruiting managers from getting side-tracked in their search; it’s this information that can keep you grounded through the recruitment process and steer you towards a successful hire.

That said, Employers can often struggle when they set the bar too high, and demand too much from a particular role. Remember that training can always be given to those who meet the majority of the role requirements, so try to be realistic in your assessment.

It’s all about the attitude

Hiring on “culture fit” alone can be a dangerous Recruitment tactic, in the sense that it can lead to bias in the hiring process. However, it can’t be denied that Candidates with the right attitude who share the company values will find it easier to settle into the role.

This is where soft skills count for a lot; the ability to communicate effectively, empathise with Clients and use critical thinking to solve problems can make all the difference. Even Employees who aren’t customer facing should at least come equipped with communication skills and display a sense of passion and determination in their attitude.

After all, this is something that you won’t have time to train for. The “ideal” Candidate should be enthusiastic, eager to learn and happy to help where they can; they should be excited by your company’s objectives and see each project as an opportunity to add value to the business.

Seek input from others

You may be responsible for Recruiting the right Candidate into the role, but that shouldn’t restrict you from seeking the input of others in the business. The future team mates of this new hire, for example, can tell you a lot about what skills are currently missing in the department; they can provide useful insight into what level of experience will be required for projects on the horizon.

If, having started your search, you find your image of the ideal Candidate starting to shift, don’t hesitate to reach out a sector specific Recruiter. The very nature of their role forces them to have a strong understanding of the industry; they can offer valuable insight and provide access to a vast network of talented Candidates.

After taking the time to understand your unique business requirements, a Recruiter can help you to answer the question of what makes for the ideal Candidate and source a selection of talented individuals who meet the criteria.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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