7 Qualities to Identify Exceptional Candidates in an Interview

Assessing Talent Potential: What You Need to Look For

The companies that will be most successful in the current “War for Talent” are those that have streamlined their hiring process and are clearly focused on the competencies of exceptional candidates. To help you improve the effectiveness of your process and the identification of critical talent, we have outlined the qualities that we believe differentiate the best from the rest.

The following seven qualities will assist your team as they assess talent and determine if they are the “right fit” for your organization.

1. Career Trajectory

In many cases, when a candidate’s work experience exhibits rapid career growth, developmental assignments, and/or a consistent track record of results/cumulative success, it’s a positive indicator of exceptional talent. Their willingness to take on additional responsibilities and oversee more challenging projects shows dedication to continued development and growth, along with a tenacious work ethic fueled by a desire to achieve. These are the employees you want to hire. 

When assessing the potential of candidates who appear to have this quality, it is important to take the time to examine their journey to this point. While their resume provides you with a simple timeline of development and growth, dive deeper and work to understand every decision they made that led to their current position. As they begin to describe their specific roles and responsibilities in greater detail, you will be able to determine how the results were achieved and if they possess the professional skills you are looking for in your next hire.

2. Team-Oriented Mindset

Organizational success requires the involvement of all members, and those who exhibit a team-player mindset tend to make excellent employees. When you hire candidates with this soft skill, they can naturally foster a positive workplace culture, improve productivity, and increase employee retention rates.

A candidate with a team-oriented mindset will not only work well with others, but also prioritize your employees' engagement and wellbeing. Listen carefully as they describe how they have managed people and teams to see if they demonstrate inclusion, as it reveals a person who is open to collaboration and respects different perspectives. If they did not manage people or teams in the past, dig into teams they were on and their contributions, discuss the impact that they had on their company’s culture, or even learn about their involvement with outside groups and teams.

3. Fast Learner

Employees that excel in stretch roles, which are naturally designed to help them expand their knowledge and skills, demonstrate they are capable of learning new abilities and adapting quickly. When discussing their experience, ask them to describe the projects that they were assigned 90 to 120 days after starting any of their past jobs. At that point, they should have settled into their new position and begun effectively carrying out their tasks and responsibilities. If they worked on major projects, seek to understand the scope and deliverable and how they went about defining the project plan and how they achieved their results. 

Also, consider their experience working in cross-functional teams and projects. This will give you a better understanding of their ability to work with colleagues who are not part of their department, their experience influencing and negotiating to achieve results without authority, as well as their exposure to and capability of interacting with and presenting to senior leadership –– key indicators of a developed and well-rounded candidate.

4. Self-Driven

Hiring a self-motivated candidate is one of the best decisions you can make as a hiring manager. When you have team members that are intrinsically motivated to begin new tasks and go above and beyond without prompting or the expectation of a promised reward, you will notice performance and productivity rise. Engaged and motivated employees may even become a source of inspiration for other team members simply through their drive to get things accomplished. 

5. Strong Interpersonal Skills 

A successful candidate should possess a set of interpersonal skills that help them outperform, no matter the role they are in. Gauge their ability to persuade and negotiate as it plays an important role when forming relationships with internal teams, potential business partners, and/or customers. 

Additionally, ask to learn about their history of incorporating DEI initiatives into their leadership approach. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all essential elements of a workplace that foster open-minded decision-making and thinking beyond the norm. If they are capable of bringing teams together to discuss varying perspectives to develop innovative ideas collectively, any organization can prosper under them. 

A candidate with a set of strong interpersonal skills will also bring superior problem-solving and empathetic abilities to the table –– two invaluable characteristics you need to help you navigate the ever-changing business landscape. 

6. Good Culture Fit With Your Organization

When assessing talent potential, a candidate's hard and soft skills are only one part of the equation. How well they fit your organization's culture is equally as important. Look for qualified candidates who are aligned with your company's mission and share similar beliefs and attitudes with your existing team. This will make the transition into their new role much smoother for everyone involved.

7. Expresses Career Motivation 

Considering the investment you are making to hire and assimilate a new employee, you want to make sure that they have capabilities and interests beyond the current opening. Do they have the potential to become a successor to other key roles in the company and what are their stated career goals? A candidate that is willing to step outside their comfort zone and take a career risk is one you want on your side. In the end, they are interested in investing in your company, which should be highly valued. Furthermore, this demonstrates that they are a self-motivated individual looking for growth opportunities in their career and can be an asset to your organization.

Create a Candidate Profile with Kinsley Sarn

At Kinsley Sarn, we have years of experience identifying exceptional candidates across a broad range of industries. Over this time, we have refined our candidate profile to make attracting and identifying optimal candidates for your business more effective. 

This profile will define the key deliverables that determine success for the new executive hire, along with target companies where the ideal candidate works or has worked throughout their career. You can also use this profile to define the qualities and skills your ideal candidate possesses. Then, target this audience to generate interest in the position you are trying to fill. 

Moreover, a candidate profile enables your business to differentiate itself from the competition and solicit interest from passionate candidates to join your team. Once we have a pool of candidates, we vet them using our data-driven assessment services and narrow down the list of potential hires. Even after the hiring process has been completed, our team will continue to provide onboarding and transition services for our placement to ensure a smooth transition into the new role.

If you have any questions about our premier Executive Search services at Kinsley Sarn, feel free to contact us to discuss your goals in more detail.

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