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When to Take a Chance on an Okay Job Candidate

Hiring strategies and decisions vary depending on the job market, an organization’s position, and the overall need. As recruiters or hiring managers, we all have a candidate persona in mind when given a job order. It’s important to think about that throughout the selection process while also remembering there’s a time to break the mold and hire a less-than-ideal job candidate.

Don’t miss the message, though. Hiring an imperfect job candidate is not the same as settling. Consider certain factors before the hire is made so that the decision isn’t made hastily. A bad hire could do more harm than keeping a position open a little longer.

How do you decide which job candidates are worthy of a position even if they don’t fulfill all the requirements?

Look at Data

Again, you’re going to walk into a situation with an ideal candidate pictured, but what you do want to remember is that there is no such thing as the “perfect” candidate. Take the gray out of the scenario by considering the data in front of you. Look at the people who have done the job previously or are doing the job now. What do the top performers have in common? Figuring out these characteristics helps to determine what’s needed to succeed. If you have a job candidate with said characteristics, but they have an employment gap in their resume that otherwise would’ve left you removing them as an option, think twice before doing so. If they have qualities that other top performers in the role have, it might be worth giving them a shot.

Measure Potential

Look at the whole picture of what’s presented against the competition. To come out of the interview process comparing apples to apples, ask the same questions to each job candidate. Curiosity, determination, and confidence are all qualities that lead to success in a job candidate. As the interviewer, it’s not as easy as asking the job candidates if they are curious, determined, and confident. You need to ask questions that prove these qualities. For example, ask them what interests them about the position or if they are self-taught in any skills?

Recognize Character Flaws

Depending on the position being hired for, the definition of character flaw isn’t one size fits all. If you’re hiring someone for Quality Control, you want a person who tends to be a pessimistic, over-analyzer, essentially made for finding the issues. Character flaws aren’t something you can bend on. Most likely, if you have a job candidate who is morally suspect, lazy, or has bad working habits, these characteristics won’t change.

Ask for Insight

Lean on your colleagues who know the role and have experience with understanding needed to be successful in it. If you’re in a position where you have other people who are already doing the job, get them involved. They are the only ones who know the ins and outs of the position better than the manager.

Remember the Perfect Candidate Doesn’t Exist

As you develop the job candidate persona, remember that it acts as a guide to the type of person you want to hire for a job, but it isn’t the end-all, be-all. There’s no harm in using the persona as a guide to who you should hire for the job, but there’s no such thing as a “perfect” job candidate. If you hold out until you have someone that checks every single box, you’re going to be waiting for a while.

When have you taken a chance on a less than ideal job candidate, and how did it turn out? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out Should You Rehire a Former Employee?