How to spot the dream employee

How to spot the dream employee

With so many candidates walking into the interview room, all using the same buzzwords and the same rehearsed answers, how can recruiters be sure that they don’t miss the dream candidate when they sit in front of them? And then, how do they handle the situation?

It’s something recruiters dream about most nights, while jobseekers long to find their ideal role within their favourite company, coming across the perfect match of candidate, vacancy and business is rare for a recruiter.

So how can recruiters spot the dream candidate, and when they find one how should they handle the situation to benefit all concerned?

“Objectivity is a key consideration when faced with someone who appears to be a dream candidate,” warns recruitment consultant Judith Armatage. “Recruiters need to ask themselves if the ‘halo’ or ‘contrast effect’ is coming into play.”

“Is the candidate looking for the next step up the career ladder, a sideways move or an alternative career? It’s important to know,” she continues. “And does this match what your client is looking for? A strong cultural fit is also essential, is the organisation the type that the candidate would thrive in?”

Red hot hires will be well prepared, have the required skills and experience in abundance. Furthermore, Armatage stresses the need to probe into their transferable skills and, “what they’ve achieved in different situations that they could bring to the new role.”


Identifying a dream hire

Although agreeing that dream candidates are rare, Lisa Holmes, managing director of Assured Recruitment, says they generally aren’t too difficult to spot as their attitude and approach shines through.

“In one example, I knew from the initial phone call, followed up with a face-to-face interview and the way that he engaged with me that he was a dream employee,” she recalls. “He had taken the initiative and visited a local outlet of the recruiting employer, effectively interviewing the staff and taking ownership of interview preparation. This was not just a job to him, but a real career opportunity, and this was demonstrated through everything he did.”

But surely with so many jobseekers these days receiving interview training, it can be easy for recruiters to be fooled. Not according to Matt Weston, director at Robert Half UK. “Presentation skills only go so far and it is the tangible, measurable information that candidates provide that can help uncover a real gem,” he says. “For instance, citing specific examples of how an individual helped their company save money or improve efficiencies provides a more measurable return on investment and can help candidates distinguish themselves from the competition.”


Don’t fast track the candidate

Of course, once the perfect placement is firmly on a recruiter’s radar, the temptation must be to grab the person by the hand, cancel any further interviews, whisk them off to the employer immediately and aim to get them offered the position before the end of the day, then join their colleagues down the pub to celebrate. However, Laurie West, talent acquisition manager at Xchange Team, warns against approaching the situation with such haste.

“Ultimately, everyone needs a fair shot,” he says. “So if a recruiter has a shortlist already, they need to continue with the initial interview process. If someone is really that strong and is right for the job, they will still be there when the initial interview process has taken place. Businesses do need to move quickly when hiring, but it’s vital that they don’t rush the process or they risk hindering the quality of candidate they receive.”

According to West, it’s down to recruiters to manage their time effectively so they can complete interviewing candidates on a shortlist, even if they do find a strong candidate early on in the process.

“Once the process is complete, if I think a particular candidate is outstanding, yet the employer still wants to see more people, I will push back and ask why, and in many cases the candidate in question has received a job offer,” he says. “But before it’s possible to reach this conclusion, it’s necessary to be very thorough.”

Armatage agrees. “Act fast, but reflect and consider,” she advises. “Remember, the next candidate or the one after may also be a dream.”

So it’s vital not to miss out on the opportunity of getting more than one five-star performer. After all, the dream choice could have other offers presented to them or change their mind at a late stage, turning the recruitment process into a nightmare.

And that’s why it pays to have a back-up plan if possible!


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