4 Job Candidates You Didn’t Hire But Should Have

Hiring can be a tricky business. You need to figure out who not only has the right blend of skills and experience for the position, but will also be a good fit with your existing team. There are real costs associated with hiring the wrong person, so it’s important to get it right. This means that most hiring managers have created heuristics, or unconscious “mapping systems” that they rely on to decide whether to hire a specific candidate. Yet heuristics tend to introduce unconscious bias, which can actually lead to the wrong choices. Here are four overlooked candidates you probably never hired, but should have.

The Passionate One

Skills and experience are great, but did you know that they’re not the best marker for whether a candidate is the right choice? Passion is actually the differentiator that is the biggest indicator for future success. Whether the candidate is passionate about your company, the specific job title, or the industry as a whole, that passion will push her to learn everything she needs to know to be a success.

By contrast, someone with a strong resume but little passion may just go through the motions, giving as little as possible to earn a paycheck. Of course, it’s wonderful to find someone with both, but if you have to choose, consider giving the edge to the person who really wants to be there.

The Untapped Talent

Good hiring managers know how to spot skills. But great hiring managers know how to spot talent. Like the passionate one, the untapped talent can become a tremendous success even if his resume lacks some core competencies. You can always teach skills, but true talent is hard to find. When you find someone with that “it” factor, consider hiring him, even if it’s at a slightly lower level than the original advertised position.

The Overqualified Worker

Many companies are reluctant to hire someone who is “overqualified.” They worry that the employee will leave as soon as a “better” position comes along. While this is a reasonable fear, it’s not always true. It might be that the person is tired of climbing the career ladder, and simply wants to do the work that makes her happy. She might have changing personal needs and be interested in a position with less stress. Or maybe there’s some aspect of the role that particularly intrigues her.

The only way to know is to ask. During the interview, clarify the job title, duties, and (if appropriate) the pay rate. Ask whether the candidate is comfortable with the position as advertised and why she feels it is right for her. Then listen closely to not only her words but her tone of voice. Does she seem genuinely excited about the role? Can she articulate a good reason for wanting the position? She might just be the person you’ve been looking for.

The New Graduate

On the flip side, some companies are reluctant to hire new graduates, citing their lack of experience. Yet new graduates tend to be idealistic, eager, and hard-working. They haven’t picked up bad habits, and you can teach them your way of doing business. Don’t discount a promising new worker simply because it would be his first professional position.

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