How to Match a Candidate’s Skills to the Job

Are you having trouble finding the perfect hire? It may feel like there’s just not enough ‘good’ candidates out there. But consistently identifying job seekers with the rights skills for the job(s) available may be to simply stop looking for the ‘perfect’ hire and instead evaluate the pool of available candidates in a new way.

Know What You’re Looking For

Some employers start looking for candidates without having a complete understanding of the position they’re hiring for. Conversely, some may have an ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ approach and create a job description that lists so many ‘required’ skills and that finding a suitable pool of candidates is all but impossible. To avoid these scenarios, define the opportunity and your expectations before you start your hiring process:

  • What role is the candidate filling?
  • Who does the candidate report to?
  • What are the candidate’s core responsibilities?
  • What are the outcomes of the position?

Make Sure Job Seekers Know What You’re Looking For

If you’re having trouble with the ‘quality’ of the candidates applying for the available job(s), take a quick look at your job description. The more accurate it is, the easier the hiring process will be. Be as honest and straight-forward as possible.

  • Don’t use complicated wording or jargon. Write as you would speak to describe the job objectives;
  • Don’t overstate or oversell the position. You don’t want to hire someone with incorrect expectations;
  • Be honest (with yourself and the candidate) on which skills are ‘required’ and which are ‘nice to haves’. Make sure the required skills and experience is stated up front, and list whatever other, less important abilities you might be looking for are clearly marked as secondary. The best candidate for the job may not even apply if they see some minor skill they don’t possess listed as ‘required’.

Finding the Hard Skills You’re Looking For

Sure, your candidate’s resume lists all the right experience with the hard skills the job requires, but do they really have the expertise you’re looking for? Make sure your screening process can handle evaluating hard skills.

  • Ask for work samples from a former workplace or classroom;
  • Create a quick skills assessment test;
  • Ask the candidate for a list of hard skills and examples of how they put those skills to use in the workplace.

Don’t Forget to Look for Soft Skills

Many employers rate soft skills (the ability to communicate, problem solving, and the ability to work as part of a team) are even more important than hard skills. Hard skills can often be taught, but a candidate with excellent soft skills is a valuable find. Screening for soft skills is not as difficult as it sounds. Here are some sample questions from Michael Page:

  • Tell me about a time when you had a problem with your supervisor and what you did to resolve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had problems getting others to work together on a critical problem and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about the best leader you have worked with, why you felt this way, and what you learned from that person.
  • Describe a problem you faced that was almost overwhelming and how you got through it.
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a client or vendor? How?

If you are looking for a resource to help you screen candidates for soft skills and core competencies, download our eBook.
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Instead of trying to find the ‘perfect’ candidate, focus on finding a pool of candidates with the right mix of skills, experience, abilities and attitude. A structured interview process with defined roles will reveal your best options, giving you the information you need to make an informed decision on the best possible hire.