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What Should You Look for in an Employment Candidate?

What should you look for in an employment candidate? Is it a skill set, experience, or attitude? Yes, it is and more. Here are some of the traits I look for and the preparation I expect from an employment candidate.


Is the candidate dressed professionally and appropriately for the position? If not, they might not understand the job or company culture.


Not only how they dress, but how they hold themselves, speak, and the collateral material they share, such as resumes and portfolios.


Do they display a positive attitude? Are they excited about the position and the organization? If not, they could be settling for the job, which usually means they're still in the job market.

Body Language

Are they open, do they make eye contact, or do they close off, crossing their arms and legs while turning away? One of my favorites is someone holding a finger to their mouth while they talk – it may indicate they're lying if you'd like to learn more, try this post, How to Read Candidate Body Language in an Interview.


This not only includes their resume but are they familiar with the company? Have they done their homework? Have they prepared questions for you? Do they understand the organization's culture, vision, and mission? Do they know the names of the interview team and top personnel?


Are there positive or negative trends on their resume? Do they share what they liked about previous positions, or are they caught up in why every boss they've ever had mistreated them?

Yellow Flags – There's a three-year job gap on their resume. Dig in and find out why. It could be they volunteered in the Peace Corp or were incarcerated. You won't know unless you ask.

Red Flags – On the application, they checked felony. You asked about it and learned it was for embezzlement, and you're trying to hire an accountant. Don't laugh. It happens.

Cultural Fit

I have friends at a marketing firm that have office cats. Obviously, hiring anyone who doesn't like cats is a poor cultural fit, but sometimes it's not so obvious. For example, if an organization relies on team activities such as brainstorming, shared initiatives, and constant feedback, wouldn't it be prudent to ask an employment candidate how they prefer to work—with a team or independently?

Communication Skills

Good communication starts with good listening skills. During the interview, does the candidate give their full attention to the questions? When the candidate is unsure about a question, do they ask for clarification? Do they occasionally stop listening and interrupt you?


If they can't be on time for an interview, what does that tell you? Yes, people can have legitimate reasons for being late, so ask why they are late and keep an open mind. However, "I forgot, I was busy, or Oh, am I late?" are not good reasons.


If you need an attorney, you're not going to hire someone and train them for the position. You're going to hire an attorney. However, as important as skills are, sometimes experience and knowledge can be overrated, even detrimental, which leads me to character.


While every point mentioned in the post is important, but for me nothing tops character. We've all worked with skilled co-workers who, through poor character choices, became toxic to the operation, and we've worked with teammates who came in green to the position but became our favorite employees because of their positive character traits. The Rockettes, Your Business, and Recruiting for Character

So, What Should You Look for in an Employment Candidate?

So, what should you look for in an employment candidate? Is it skills, character, experience, or something not listed here? Let us know; we'd like to hear your opinions and advice. Thank you.

Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He's a beer geek, and on weekends he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He's the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager's Workbook, a crash course in effective management.


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