Identifying the Perfect Candidate

June 28, 2018

Identifying the perfect candidate for your business can be hard. Learn how establishing company values and culture can help you find the ideal new hire.

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Some professional pointers

The scenario: there is an opening at your company and you simply don’t have the time or budget to conduct a long, drawn out search to find the perfect fit. How do you identify the perfect candidate? We referred to the opinions of three experienced hiring managers – to understand how they have honed their hiring process, and how you can evolve your own.

Chanelle Leslie – Denver, Colorado

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Chanelle Leslie, Marketing Director for oVertone Haircare

As marketing director for oVertone Haircare, Chanelle Leslie built her department from the ground up, increasing its size fourfold over eighteen months. First and foremost, she looks for a strong cultural fit. That means more than a degree or experience. “I’ve met a lot of experienced candidates who could not hold a candle to some of the people I’ve hired who have less experience, but the right attitude and are a good cultural fit,” she explains.

Because she’s filling positions within her own department, Chanelle is very cognizant of her strengths and weaknesses and hires to fill the gaps. “I focus on the company’s vision and the big picture, so sometimes I will miss those small details that other personalities will see right away,” she says. That big picture view includes knowing the personalities in her department (including hers) and hiring someone who brings balance to the team as well as the appropriate skill set and attitude. “I’m looking for the right puzzle piece, not just someone who ticks all the boxes that match the position on paper.”

Chanelle likes to unearth how candidates “see the world.” She’ll ask them to rate how detail-oriented they are versus how they view the big picture on a scale of one to ten – “Everyone gives themselves high marks if you ask them to rate themselves on a single trait, when they have to make a comparison, you get a more accurate answer.”  It all boils down to that cultural fit.

Has she ever made a mistake?

“Oh, yes,” says Chanelle, recalling an instance when a candidate did not include a cover letter in their application submission, despite a clear mandate to do so in the job description. However, the candidate’s resume was very strong. She still hired that person only to discover that there was a pattern of not listening or following directions. Ultimately, she had to let the employee go. “I should have listened to my first an instinct,” she says. “Now, no cover letter—no interview.”

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Roz Cohen Baruch – San Francisco, California

Roz Cohen Baruch is an HR professional with 25 years under her belt. “Everyone is looking for that golden ticket—what are the questions I can ask a candidate that ensures they will be the right fit for me? But there’s a piece that comes before that that really is the key,” She says. “And that is really understanding your organization.”

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Roz Cohen Baruch, HR Professional

What is important within the organization? What are those values and attributes that make your people successful? Roz defines values as what the organization rewards and what it needs to be successful. Once you have determined values and attributes, ask questions and begin hiring for those qualities. That, she believes, level-sets the playing field.

Skills can be taught, Roz says. “I can teach you Excel, but I can’t teach you integrity, so I’m going to solve for that and ask you questions like, ‘Tell me about a time when you did the right thing even when it was unpopular,’ and listen for the answer, not just check a box.”

Candidates have a good understanding of the questions they’ll be asked when entering an interview. It’s important that a good interviewer probe and ask the question behind these standard questions. That often leads to deeper questions and answers that reflect the candidate’s true self.

Roz looks to the organization’s future when she’s identifying the perfect candidate. What’s two or three years down the road, and how will the candidate grow along with this direction? Maybe that means looking for someone who is malleable and can handle change well. That’s why it’s important to bring the interview back to what the organization values and attributes that support those values.

“That’s how you’re going to build a successful team,” says Roz. “But you’ve got to understand yourself and your organization before you can go outside and understand everybody else.”

Applying these methods

As stated in our previous blogs, our culture here at Journey is the foundation of our company and success.  We have developed a similar hiring protocol, by focusing not only on skills; but personality, drive, and heart as well.

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Ashlee Faulkner, Regional Shareholder and President of Business Development, Journey Employer Solutions Colorado location

Ashlee Faulkner, Shareholder and President of Business Development at Journey’s Colorado location, focuses her interviews around this heart-driven culture.  She explains, “When hiring, we look for someone that not only has some great experience in our industry, but someone that is going to be a great fit for our culture as well. Our culture is so important to us and we feel like it’s equally as important for anyone coming on board.  When you create a great environment for your staff, we feel it flows to your clients as well. If you hire someone that isn’t good for your company culture, it can really make things uncomfortable for those that thrive in a positive workplace. Getting that right makes all the difference.”

Once you determine the cores of your culture and how it will be maintained, you will find pairing personalities and candidates alongside it becomes pretty seamless.  You will begin understanding the type of candidate that best suits your culture, and what questions to ask them.

Take it from these three experienced hiring managers – culture is the basis of a company, and therefore should be the basis of your search for a new candidate.  Heart and integrity can excel that “somewhat experienced” candidate to the perfect candidate for your team.

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