How to Find the Perfect Candidate: Top Qualities to Consider

Every role requires something a bit different when it comes to finding the ideal candidate, there’s no doubt about that. There are, however, a number of qualities that can make any applicant quickly stand out from the crowd. Candidates with these qualities are far more likely to succeed, excel, and become a real asset to any company, and once you know exactly what kind of position you’re hiring for, identifying these traits is an important next step in the process – you’ll already have gained a huge amount of ground in the battle to find the perfect placement for your role. incorporating these qualities into your overall hiring strategy as explained in our Ultimate Hiring Guide. Here’s what to look for:


Passion and Ambition

This is easy to spot, and a very valuable trait in any potential employee. Having a real passion for a job, as well as drive and ambition, means an employee will always be striving to do the best they can. They’ll genuinely care about the company, brand, and their work.

These kinds of candidates tend to stand out at the interview stage because they come prepared. They’ll have researched the company and role, and have questions about progression and the long term plans for the organisation.

You can see some tell tale signs of this on a candidate’s CVs (check out what else to look out for on a candidate’s CV by reading our CV warning signs guide) – look for progression and stand out achievements in previous roles, as well as values, and out of work interests that align with those of the company and role advertised.


Adaptability and Motivation

Today’s job market often requires that applicants are able to cross over into different disciplines to some extent, or pick up new skills on the job. While this has always been the case to some extent, given the ongoing development of technology, today it’s more important for employers than ever. We’re almost certain to see more use of automation, digital technology, and AI in the workplace, so having employees that can quickly adapt to sometimes major changes is crucial in the long run.

The silhouette of motivated person achieving their goal

The desire to learn something new, and the motivation to achieve that learning, are therefore very valuable assets to both candidates and employers. You can see if these qualities are present by finding out how applicants have handled difficult situations, and what they learned from it. It’s also normally clear from their CV – look out for examples of learning new systems and skills in previous roles, or operating outside a previous role’s remit. If a candidate also has a number of additional qualifications or awards that are outside their area of specialisation, then these are good indications they’re both adaptable and motivated.


Teamwork and Communication

Even with the increase in remote working (which is likely to become more prevalent in the future), teamwork and communication are pretty much essential for any role at any organisation. A candidate could be an absolute genius at data science, but if they’re unable to clearly communicate their ideas and findings, then no one can benefit.

Having good teamwork and communication skills means an applicant will fit in quickly, develop good working relationships, and in turn, help increase productivity and morale. They’ll also be able to relate any potential problems or ideas clearly and effectively.

There are a few ways you can tell if a candidate is a good communicator, starting with their CV. If it’s well written, clear, and flows nicely while highlighting the key information, then there’s a good chance they’re a confident communicator. How they respond to emails and follow up phone calls can also offer some valuable insights here too. Generally, good communicators will be upbeat, polite, and enthusiastic.

Teamwork skills can also be gleaned from a CV – look for experience of working on projects, hitting team targets, and any achievements in or out of work that required successfully working with others towards common objectives.

A successful candidate using a whiteboard and working as part of a team


Reliability and Integrity

The most talented candidate in the world is no good to any employer if they’re unreliable and untrustworthy. Both of these qualities are arguably the most important of all an applicant’s attributes. Without these, they’re likely to end up costing any employer both time and money. Not only that, untrustworthy candidates could cause damage to a brand image, as well as undermine employee confidence and morale.

A good way to gauge how reliable a candidate might be is to check their employment history. If there are a lot of gaps and short stints at a number of different companies, then they might not be very reliable. Additionally, taking note of little things, like how quickly they get back to you with any application documentation, and whether they stick to any agreed pre-interview meetings. This can give you a clear picture of their professionalism.

When it comes to integrity, look out for the aforementioned employment gaps on a CV. Unexplained employment gaps are generally not a good thing, and you can generally simply pass these candidates by at the CV stage.That said, if they have other good qualities, it’s worth asking the applicant what they were doing during any gaps. See how they respond. Fluster and vagueness tend to indicate they’re not being completely honest.

The use of generic, overinflated phrases when describing previous roles and responsibilities can also be a sign that someone might not be trustworthy. This can be pressed at the interview stage as well, where you can generally get the clearest idea of an applicant’s integrity.


Matching Values

This quality is more important than it might seem at first glance. If a candidate has values that echo those of the company they’re applying for, it will be beneficial for all parties. This is what every recruiter and employer ultimately wants – a happy employee that provides real value to the employer. Sharing key values means that employees will work hard, contribute to a happy work environment, be a factor for positive change, and be an ideal ambassador.

There are a number of ways to see if your candidate is going to be a good match for the role and organisation, and, you’ve guessed it, they start at the CV stage. Keep the values of the company in mind when browsing their CV. A candidates philosophy and values can often be seen in out of work activities (they might volunteer for example, or learn coding in their spare time). These can give you an idea of what’s important to them.

It can also be clear from choices they might have made in previous roles. Were they involved in projects that reflect the current company values, for example? This can also assessed at the interview stage quite clearly, as a well aligned candidate will already have looked up the company culture, and will probably have questions relating to it.


Now you know what to look for when it comes to that dream candidate, make sure you’ve registered with us, and get your first job post ready to go!

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