July 16, 2018

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Stud or Dud:What Defines a Strong Candidate?

How many times has your heart been broken by a candidate that looked good at first and then fizzled as the interview process got rolling? The following list provides a starting point for you or your staff to examine when evaluating people. It’s a tool for reducing the amount of time that you waste in pursuing candidates that will ultimately not get hired. These 14 items are things to look for with everyone that you evaluate.

Having the right answer to the following questions does not necessarily mean the person is a fit and the wrong answer does not necessarily mean the he’s not a fit. These questions, when combined, will give you valuable information about a candidate’s marketability. You want to be sure to spend your time with the people that you are best able to help.

  1. Does the candidate have the skills necessary for the job we are recruiting for? If he does have the skills, are they current or were they used several years ago?

  2. Has the candidate stayed at companies for a good amount of time (2-3 years) or has he jumped around every year? If he has jumped around, does he have valid reasons for it?

  3. Has he been at his current company for too long (5+ years)? If so, he may be very resistant to actually leaving (even if he says otherwise).

  4. Has the candidate been a contractor much of the time? If you’re looking for a permanent employee this could be a snag.

  5. Is the candidate local? Local is always better. Some companies may pay for relocation but more things can fall through with an out of state candidate.

  6. What about his personality & communication skills? Does he have a thick accent? Does he sound confident or like a mouse? Do you trust what he is saying or does something sound fishy? Does he speak with pride or does he put you to sleep? Does he sound arrogant? For some highly technical positions it may not matter as much but generally this is a very important area.

  7. Is this a position that will be a step up for him? If not, we need to understand why he would go to a company for a step down or sideways.

  8. Has the candidate worked for quality companies? You can guess that he has some quality skills if he has worked for Oracle, Microsoft etc.

  9. Does he have a valid reason for leaving (more responsibilities, not able to expand his skills, unstable company) or is it a questionable reason (“I’m always looking”, “more money”)? Without a valid “wound”, he will be easily swayed when it comes time to walk into his boss’s office and say, “I quit”.

  10. How much total industry experience does he have? If the person has the title of “Director” but graduated from college 3 years ago, that’s a flag.

  11. Has the person worked in a similar industry and company size compared with the position we are recruiting for? This is not so important with some technical positions because the skills often transfer between industries. But if we are looking for a Controller for a large law firm, someone who has been a Controller w/ a small manufacturing company may not be a fit.

  12. Does the person have relevant certifications (CPA, MCSE etc.) for the position?

  13. Are his salary expectations reasonable?

  14. Has the person been in “real world” industries (Business, Technology, Professional Services etc.) or is all of their experience in the Military, University, Aerospace, Scientific or Government arena.

-Gary Stauble

Copyright 2004 Gary Stauble - All Rights Reserved

Gary Stauble is the principal consultant for The Recruiting Lab, a coaching company that assists Firm Owners and Solo Recruiters in generating more profit in less time. His free monthly e-zine, “Creative Recruiting” will help you to attract premium clients, generate more profit, and still be home in time for dinner. Subscribe today at or via email to Owners: sign up for a free business building Tele-class online. For more information or to schedule a complimentary coaching session, visit the site or call 408-847-5049.