The Recruiter’s Guide to Hiring the Best Candidate

recruiters guide

As an HR professional, or as a manager responsible for hiring, you should know that hiring the best is not always easy. In fact, the recruitment process is a tough one because, more often than not, the right person for the job will be someone completely unexpected. Not everyone will have the same skills and qualifications, so finding the ideal candidate can be difficult. It is, therefore, the recruiter’s responsibility to keep an open mind and to look beyond CVs and interview questions to find the best recruit.


What Makes a Great Hire

great candidate hire

Of course, a level of difficulty should be expected. Humans are inherently unique, so anticipate a few surprises. An individual who looks great on paper might easily turn out to be the worst hire, while a person with a lack of suitable qualifications could be the next best thing in the industry. This unpredictability is precisely why it’s important to outline the profile of your next hire.

Generally speaking, an individual suitable for the position will be enthusiastic. Meaning, if you happen to come across candidates who are quite passive about the prospect, then immediately eliminate them from the competition. There’s only so much that these people can offer, and the goal is to find a professional who will be willing to go above and beyond expectations to succeed in the role.

Meanwhile, don’t avoid people who don’t have all the necessary qualifications because it’s not that difficult to learn and, with the right level of excitement, even someone with a lacking education can be moulded into the perfect employee.

The notion of what makes a great hire might be abstract but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few checks that can be put in place to ensure that the potential hire could be made into an ideal worker. Of course, excited and self-motivated people should be the target, and you’ll find that such people usually demonstrate their willingness for career development through continuously advancing themselves.

Key Indicators to a Candidate’s Potential

#1 Past Performance

Work experience alone cannot indicate a person’s potential for success. Graduates, for example, won’t have the desired level of experience but they might be just as talented as their more experienced counterparts. So, rather than focusing on how many years they spent in a position, look for achievements and quantifiable results.

#2 Creativity and Innovation

The future is pointing to creativity, and organisations interested in moving forward should ensure that their employees are innovative. This is why it’s important to look beyond the restrictions of the industry and actively look for people who are forward thinkers and who are involved with other things as well. There’s a good chance that someone from a different background will be able to carry new knowledge into the industry and help your organisation become an industry disruptor.

#3 Company Culture Fitness

Company culture has been a buzzword for the past decade and it’s not just because Google installed slides in its offices. It also has to do with the fact that human resources have realised the potential of hiring a great fit. In fact, according to a 2005 study, people who were good cultural fits were able to get more satisfaction out of their work and identify with the organisation’s goals.

4. Growth Mindset

A professional interested in career development will also be interested in helping their organisation advance, so it’s essential that companies hire people with such a mindset as they can align their visions to the organisation’s vision.

In order to ensure that the applicant is interested in growth, look for applicants who are constantly improving themselves by gaining knowledge, skills and qualifications. Employees interested in development will also be interested in taking up challenges, and this will be evident from the leaps in their background.

5. Committed and Loyal

Employee retention is a major issue, even for companies who claim to be designed for high turnover. Assimilating new staff is difficult, costly and it can slow an organisation down, so it’s important to avoid it as much as possible. Of course, this does not mean that recruiters should ban job hoppers – it is, after all, the trend amongst millennials – but an applicant who hasn’t been able to stay put for longer than six months should raise some concerns.

Be Realistic

Hiring someone who’s all of the things listed above can be great, and it can help an organisation achieve its goals, but it’s also important to ensure that your enlistment goals are realistic. Hiring top talent means providing perks and benefits. If the budget is tight and the salary offered is lower than the industry standard, then it begs the question whether you should lower the bar and look for professionals of the company’s calibre.

It should also be noted that unless your organisation has the reputation of an industry leader, then superstars shouldn’t be sought after. People who are exceptionally talented will be interested in working for companies that can make them more visible, so take a look at what the company can offer and decide accordingly.


Planning the Process


Organising the enlistment process will make it less time-consuming and it will also ensure better results, so start by visualising the task at hand. This includes deciding what the requirements are, where to look for candidates and how to hire someone. The step-by-step guide below will help put you in the right mindset, so take a look:

Step 1: Identify Goals

Find out all the details about the position. Where will the new employee fit? What will his or her work duties include? Who will they answer to? Understanding why someone new is needed will help identify the expectations of the role as well as the short and long-term goals, and this will make the procedure more structured.

Step 2: Create the Profile of the Ideal Candidate

In order to find the right person for the role, it must be ascertained what the right candidate should be like. To do that, create a mental profile of this person and consider what educational background they must have, what their work history should be like, the skills that are required, as well as those that are merely desired.

Step 3: Determine What the Company Can Offer

Dated understandings of hiring want the employer to offer a salary and nothing more. However, as employers are beginning to realise that a happy employee is also a productive one, workers are gaining more benefits. Successful companies offer perks, benefits and company cultures that are envied and, as such, in order to determine which candidates you can target, it’s necessary to understand what the organisation can offer in return.

Take a look at what the competition offers as this will be an indicator to what lures jobseekers, and try to match those perks.

Step 4: Write the Job Listing

The key to every successful recruitment process is an effective description of the role. Now, in order for the listing to be successful, it needs to be clear and straightforward. This means that it should include details about the position as well as the application process, while it should also be optimised in order to pop up on search engines and social media.

Step 5: Spread the Word across the Internet

In order for the recruitment process to be successful, it should be delivered across a variety of mediums. You can find the medium that best suits your needs by understanding the relevant demographic and it’s also important to make the vacancy available across social media and job boards. Asking employees for referrals can also go a long way in delivering high quality candidates, so consider this strategy as well.

Step 6: Review CVs

A large volume of applications will be received for the vacancy, so it’s essential that you optimise the process by coming up with a system which will allow you to discard those applicants that did not deliver. Create a list of red flags and scan through applications.

Step 7: Conduct a Phone Screening Interview

In order to make the recruitment process more efficient, conduct a phone screening interview before an in-person interview. This will help eliminate people who are not eager to work for the company.

Step 8: Meet with the Candidate

A job interview is a necessary step in every hiring process, so ensure that you make the most of the meeting by asking the applicant everything that matters.

Step 9: Check Their References

A mistake many hiring managers make is that they never check the candidates’ references. It is, nonetheless, an important step as no one can provide more insight than someone’s previous boss.

Step 10: Make an Offer

When you are ready to make an offer, sit with the new employee and talk with them about the company’s expectations. Expect that he or she will want to negotiate their salary, so be prepared for that.

How to Attract Talent

reccruit talent

It’s important to understand that, in order to find the best, the recruitment process has to become a marketing campaign. Many hiring managers fail to understand that not everyone will want to work for them and that, unless they offer something in return, talented candidates won’t even consider applying.

The key to a successful strategy is to understand that, in order to find the best quality candidates, you need to be able to lure people in. Much like any successful marketing campaign needs to convince people that they have something to gain, jobseekers should also be convinced that, by taking this position, they are investing in their future.

Employment Brand

Employment brand refers to the way an organisation is perceived by either current employees or from prospective employees. It’s basically what makes workers want to commit to a company and what makes jobseekers interested in pursuing employment opportunities. Essentially, employment brand refers to an organisation’s ability to capture the hearts and minds of its employees.

A poor employment brand will not only make current employees look for other opportunities but it will also discourage potential recruits. It is, therefore, important to create a brand that is impactful as it will help attract talent and, ultimately, lead to success.

Boosting Your Brand

Step 1: Look Internally

In order to lure people in, a company should start by asking questions about its current state. If the management is not top notch, then there’s a good chance that the organisation will have a bad reputation as it will have a high turnover rate. Candidates actively look for this information as nobody wants to be stuck under a boss who’s not skilled, so ensure that the people on the managerial level understand that they should add value to the company by making their subordinates feel valued.

Step 2: Be Up-to-Date with Current Trends

The next step is to ensure that the organisation is up-to-date with the trends in the job market. Does it match what the competitors are offering in all respects? In a CareerAddist Study, we found that 'a lack of progression is the number one
reason people would quit their jobs, followed by low pay', so it’s vital that you raise the bar and offer what talented candidates are interested in.

Step 3: Offer Something Revolutionary

If the goal is to beat the competition, then it’s essential for the organisation to offer something that no one else does. Look at other industries and see what kind of benefits they offer and introduce those same perks within your industry. This will cause a sensation, so it’s a tactic that’s worth considering.

It should be noted that boosting a company’s brand can be costly but at the same time it can rewarding as it can attract the right crowd which means that business can flourish.

Strategies to Attract Talent

#1 Become a Leader in the Industry

Becoming a leader in the industry is no easy task, especially if the current team cannot support the organisation’s vision, but it should be noted that talent attracts talent and, as such, it’s the most effective strategy in hiring top talent.

This is why it’s important for any company to be realistic about the jobseekers it can attract. Ensure that the recruits you are targeting are within your organisation’s calibre and then look at techniques with which to mould them into top performers. People with professional aspirations will be happy to get behind this goal, so it’s important that you focus on enthusiastic prospects.

#2 Offer the Industry’s Standard Salary or Above

Although it was mentioned earlier that millennials are willing to work for less money but with better benefits, that does not mean that you can hope to achieve much if what the company is offering is below the industry standard. Talented people know their worth and, as such, won’t be willing to sacrifice their future. Offering at least the industry standard means that you are remaining within the competition, so try to match what the competition is offering.

#3 Offer Flexibility

The once ever-elusive work-life balance has been finally captured and studies have shown that in order to achieve a balanced work and personal life, workers need to be able to work flexibly. Research has proven that a flexible work schedule allows for a happier professional and, as such, millennials are looking for positions with this benefit. According to Anne Donovan, PricewaterhouseCoopers’s human-capital transformation leader, out of all the initiatives the company had adopted in order to retain its millennial talent, creating flexibility has been the most successful.

#4 Offer Lifelong Learning

There’s one thing that talented individuals look for and that is professional growth. In order to develop professionally, one must continue to learn and train – the problem, however, is that lifelong learning can be costly and as most millennials have student loans to worry about, they want employers who will invest in their future. This is why offering lifelong learning can be the secret to attracting the best employees.

#5 Company Culture

Being in a positive environment does not only make workers happier but it also makes them more productive, and this is why companies should look for ways to develop a positive company culture. Offering employees a vibrant environment can make individuals eager to get to work and produce results, so it’s essential to develop strategies which will boost the culture.


How to Recruit


There isn’t one enlistment strategy that fits all and, as such, there are many options available to the hiring manager looking for staff. Amongst the most popular strategies are job boards as they are easy, straightforward ways with which to advertise a job vacancy. Many opt for recruitment agencies but with a little research, it can be done by anyone willing to go the extra mile.

During the last few years, social media has begun being utilised as well, so it’s worth looking into what platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can do for hiring. However, there are other strategies, which are possibly more effective as well. Employee referrals and poaching can also yield results, so it’s important to look at all of the options and decide which fits the company’s targets best.

Before looking at recruitment strategies, however, it’s important to write down an effective description of the role as it will go a long way to attracting candidates.

Writing an Effective Job Listing

Writing the job description is amongst the most crucial aspects of recruiting top talent. A great job description doesn’t just list the qualifications and skills the successful candidate should have, but it also works as a method to lure in the best candidates.

Here are the best tips to help you write an effective job description:

  • Apply marketing principles
  • Make sure you include all the details
  • Clarify the process interested parties need to follow to apply
  • Make mention to the company culture
  • Include keywords
  • Use the industry standard title



Recruiting Options

There are endless recruitment options, but to ensure results it’s important to focus on the channels where the target audience will be frequenting. To do that you will need to do some research on the target age group. Millennials will generally be found across all social media, but they also use job boards so a mix of the two will yield excellent results.

Employee referrals are also a popular strategy amongst seasoned recruiters as they allow a hiring manager to turn their entire team into recruiters. But, if you want to find the best of the best you should consider poaching as well.

There’s always the option of hiring a recruitment agency of course, but as it’s possible to advertise a job more effectively without such an agency, perhaps it’s best to do it on your own. 

#1 Job Boards

Although social media are on the rise, boards remain a powerful enlistment tool. They offer recruiters the opportunity to advertise a post in a relatively easy and straightforward way, while they allow users on the other end to scroll through hundreds of thousands of vacancies. According to Monster’s data, millennials continue to use these tools, although it’s noted that this generations is more interested in well-rounded career websites which offer job boards in combination with career advice.

Therefore, it’s important for any hiring manager interested in finding the best to advertise jobs on boards as well. What’s great about them is that they allow for a complete control of the recruitment process. For example, the job listing can be created and be customized according to the organization’s needs, which can include SEO. They also offer visibility which guarantees a large number of applications.

However, not all is rosy with boards as they often yield applications from non-qualified candidates, while posting on the most popular career websites can be costly.

You can always use CareerAddict’s job board as our career advice blog reaches to thousands of monthly visitors, while the board is an affordable solution that’s becoming more and more popular.

Other Boards You Should Consider:

  • Linkedin: The leader in the online professional world, Linkedin offers myriads of options (including directly messaging people you are interested in).
  • Indeed: As this is one of the most popular tools in the enlistment world it will make the position visible to millions of people. It also offers lots of advertising opportunities.
  • Monster: Although one of the pricier solutions, Monster could be an effective solution as its career advice blog attracts a large volume of traffic.

Looking into popular  job boards industry-wise is also an excellent idea as it will help make the recruitment strategy more focused.

Another factor you need to consider is whether it’s worth investing in paid job boards or if free ones can be just as good. Generally speaking, paid ones will yield better results. These boards offer you the possibility to customize your post and to ensure that it remains on top until you have filled the position.

job boards statistic


#2 Social Media


Social media is turning into an all-power tool in the world of recruiting and, as such, any hiring manager who wants to achieve results should incorporate them in his or her strategy.  LinkedIn is obviously not the only tool that can assist you in finding the right candidate as, one way or another, all social media platforms can be just as effective. In fact, data compiled by Glassdoor shows that the majority of jobseekers now actively look for work on these channels.

Advertising jobs on social media is affordable but if you are not mindful of your budget, it could easily turn into a huge cost, so it’s important to focus on paid advertisement on the social media channels that could yield better results.

In order to determine where a paid advertisement would be more visible, talk to the marketing team and ask them for their input. After you do that, talk to all of the employees in the company and ask them to fill in a questionnaire about which channels they and their friends prefer. Lastly, take a look at what the competition is doing. Using the information you compiled from your research, you’ll be able to determine the best social media channel to advertise a job.

  • Facebook: As the most popular channel, Facebook opens you up to a huge audience which will make the position more visible and also attract passive jobseekers. It also allows recruiters to form a more personal connection with candidates. Plus, posting an ad here is relatively easy and straightforward.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn offers a variety of options and it even has a highly successful job board. What’s great about it is that it allows recruiters to search for members by searching specific keywords while it also offers the option to search for people by the company for which they work. This could do wonders for your poaching strategy, so learning how to post jobs here is essential.
  • Instagram: One of the most loved channels, Instagram can really make recruitment fun and easy. Keep in mind that millennials are interested in making their work meaningful and this means that they care about who they work for, so you can post pictures of the company culture and projects to lure people in. Posting ads on Instagram won’t take long, and it’s definitely worth the investment.
  • Twitter: Another great platform to find talent, Twitter allows you to include keywords/hashtags in posts, thus making them searchable which means that candidates will be able to look up the company. Advertising here can be inexpensive, so it’s definitely something to add to your recruitment strategy.
  • Snapchat: Snapchat has long been considered to be the social media playground for teenagers but, according to new data, older demographics also love this app. In fact, 7 in every 10 users are millennials, meaning the next best employee could be somewhere out there. There’s a lot of potential to this app as an enlistment tool as it allows you to use stories to accompany job ads. Learn how to make your brand more engaging, and you’ll find that this social media site can be truly useful.

#3 Employee Referrals

The first step to any successful recruitment strategy is to ask current employees if they know of anyone who’d be a good fit in the company. Research has shown time and again that this is the best tactic hiring talented workers who will stay with you for longer.

In fact, Jobvite found that recruiting through employees can save time and it also allows you to reach out to passive candidates, which could mean optimised results. This study also showed that referrals stay for longer which essentially means that it could also cut down your costs in the long run.

It’s worth mentioning that many experts suggest offering employees incentives to participate actively in the recruitment process. This incentive could be a bonus for whichever high-quality referral gets hired and is retained for longer than six months, for example, or it could be a paid trip somewhere, etc.

Implementing such a program could benefit your organisation in the long run, and the benefits can also be more immediate, too. Employees who get to refer their friends (with or without a bonus) will feel happy that they’ve done something nice for someone, while new hires will also feel more comfortable if they already have a friend within the workplace. This means that the initial awkwardness of starting a new job can be lifted which is to the advantage of everyone involved; be it employee or management.

There are many things you can do to cultivate an employee referral company culture: some companies will go as far as print T-shirts and stickers, for example, but you don’t really need that. So long as the company culture is positive, people will want to refer their friends, so simply get people actively involved in the process. Start by spreading the word and allowing the team to come up with their suggestions.

Although setting a referral program in place is advisable, don’t kick back and expect other people to do the recruitment for you. Mix up all of the strategies mentioned above to optimise your recruiting efforts.

#4 Headhunting

Head hunting refers to your efforts of luring someone who’s currently working for a competitor and it’s a borderline unethical strategy. However, it’s a strategy with many benefits. For example, someone who already works within the industry will know it well, they’ll know how to anticipate trends and they’ll know how to go about achieving certain goals.

Essentially, poaching eliminates the risk of hiring someone who might be untested or who could perhaps be unqualified for the job and this is precisely why so many hiring managers opt for this tactic.

However, in order to ensure that you won’t get into any real trouble – as in legal trouble – make sure that there isn’t a non-compete clause on the contract of the potential poach.

Poaching basically changes the rules of the recruitment process. Whereas with more traditional techniques where the jobseeker normally has to ‘seduce’ an organisation, it is the company that does the chasing when it comes to poaching, so you need to ensure that what is being offered is of value. Therefore, in order to successfully poach someone, you are going to need to offer them a well-rounded package which should include a salary that tops their current one, benefits which are noteworthy, more responsibilities and better challenges.

The Hiring Process


Admittedly, getting to this stage is no walk in the park but remember that the more effort you put into mapping out the recruitment strategy, the easier it will be.

What to Look for on Applicants’ CVs

The minimum number of CVs a hiring manager will receive depends on the size of the company and the success of the advertising campaign, this number could range from 50 to 500, so it’s important to make the screening process efficient.

hiring process

The first step is to discard applications which are not relevant to the position for any number of reasons. However, that doesn’t mean you should disqualify candidates who don’t fit the profile 100 per cent, but you should have a few guidelines in place in order to make shortlisting candidates easier.

Focus on scanning applications and actively looking for specific things. The first thing you should look for is whether the applicant’s CV has been tailored to fit the position’s requirements. Applications with no keywords should be discarded as either the candidate does not have the qualifications needed or they didn’t take the time to tailor their CV; either scenario means that the applicant should not proceed to the next stage.

Applications that make it through this initial stage should then be skimmed for red flags. In order to create a red flags checklist, talk to head of the relevant department and ask for their input as well.

The Red Flags Checklist
  • It’s sloppy or confusing: It contains several grammar and spelling errors, and it is written unclearly.
  • The applicant is a serial job hopper: There’s nothing wrong with changing positions, but if the person in question has not stayed put for longer than a few months in each position, then it raises concerns as to whether they will be a good investment.
  • There are unexplained employment gaps: Although you might want to be lenient with this as there might be a good reason for the gap (providing care to someone, for example), you should expect some skill acquisition over lengthy employment gaps.
  • Regression in work history: A person that goes backwards rather than forward in their career could well be a bad performer or an irresponsible employee.
  • Lack of examples: Examples are required to explain each accomplishment.
  • No references: References are requested so that the recruiter can speak with someone who’s worked with the applicant, so if they’ve chosen not to include any of these people, then it might be because they have something they want to hide.

The Phone Screening Interview

Phone screening interviews are stressful for the jobseeker as they don’t know what questions to anticipate, while they are also pressured to talk about their skills and accomplishments. However, they can be just as stressful for the hiring manager who’s pressured to keep the interview going while asking deeply personal questions to a stranger. However, going through this process allows for the more passionate candidates to come to the surface and, as such, it’s an essential step.

Keep in mind that the goal is to get to know more about the candidate and whether they are truly interested in the opportunity, so going into detail about the role and the requirements would beat the purpose.

Frequently asked questions include:

  • Why do you want this job? Although a pretty straightforward question which will indubitably be well-rehearsed, it’s important to ask in order to understand how the candidate communicates. If they’re great storytellers, then that means that they are great communicators, but if their speech is fragmented and confusing, then you might be dealing with someone who lacks communication skills.
  • How would your managers describe you, and how would your friends? People who carry their personalities to work are usually individuals who are highly motivated to achieve their goals, so it’s important to find out if there are any serious discrepancies between the self at work and the self at home.
  • Can you tell me a story that tells me who you are? Professionals tend to carry their values with them in their personal lives as well as at work, so it’s important to identify if this person fits your company culture, and hearing a story of their choosing will help you understand how they think and what they value.
  • What skills have you learned recently? Lifelong learning is essential for career development, and people who are interested in career development will be self-motivated and passionate, so it’s important that you find out if this person is continuing to learn or if their career has plateaued.

The Interview

The key to a successful interview is to ensure that the questions asked will provide insightful answers. This means questions such as ‘Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?’ should be avoided as they add no real value to the process. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the questions make sense to you – that they have a purpose, if you will. So, before asking something, ask yourself ‘Why am I asking this?’ If there’s a purpose to the question, then it should be asked, but if there isn’t, it’s best not to waste your time with silly questions.

The interview is supposed to help narrow down the competition, so make the process as well-rounded as possible. Address different areas and don’t focus on something too specific (the candidate’s will for professional growth, how they fit with the company culture, etc), and then ask questions that relate to the person’s application. For example, if something on their CV raised questions, make sure you clear things with the applicant.

There are many different interview styles, but the key is to identify a strategy that fits the recruitment strategy’s needs. It is, therefore, advised that questions are formulated based on the areas that need to be addressed rather than being taken off a list of common questions interviewers tend to ask.

Check our tips on conducting Skype interviews!

Reference Checks

Not being diligent about checking the references provided can be risky as some employers who checked references have caught applicants lying and including a fake reference. Moreover, the majority of employers said that when they contacted a reference, that person did not have positive things to say about the applicant.


So, taking the time to check an applicant’s references can save you the headache of hiring someone who’s difficult to work with. Here are a few questions you can ask references:

  • What is your relation to the applicant?
  • Can you confirm the dates the applicant worked with you?
  • How would you describe the applicant’s work performance?
  • Was the applicant responsible in performing work duties?
  • What are the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • What was it like to work with him/her?
  • Would you rehire the applicant if you could?
  • Is there anything I should know about him/her?

Making the Job Offer

Many recruiters call candidates in for two or three interviews before determining who to hire, and if making a decision is hard, then it’s an option to consider. After you’ve made your decision, call the prospective employee in and offer them the position. Ensure that what is being offered is in line with the law and that it includes everything previously discussed.

Anticipate that they’ll try to negotiate a bigger salary, so if the company cannot go above budget, try offering a lower salary at the beginning so that, after negotiation, the salary offered remains within budget.

Decide on a starting date and go through the work duties and responsibilities with the new employee. You can even give them a tour of the office so that they can meet the rest of the team as well.

Hiring through Recruitment Agencies

Although this article has focused on how to make the process more effective for the HR personnel or the hiring manager in charge, the truth is that if the time constraints are too much, hiring through a recruitment agency can help you find someone in less time. As experts in the field, they understand the market, so they’ll be able to deliver high-quality candidates to you, while they’ll also be able to provide constructive feedback and help enhance your employment brand.

However, hiring a third party cannot only be costly but it might also discourage forming a close relationship with a new employee from the beginning. It’s also worth noting that agencies won’t have a feel for the company culture so they might not be able to find someone who fits well with the rest of the team.


So, whether you're hiring for a startup or a large company, to make the process easier, it’s essential that a strategy is mapped out early on and, to avoid disappointment, you should remain realistic throughout the entire process. Of course, even with a well-organised strategy in place, the recruiting process can be difficult, so ensure that you have all the necessary tools at your disposal. These could be demographic tendencies, recruitment software and even advice articles on choosing the best candidates.

Do you have any other tips for recruiters? If you do, share them with us in the comments section below!