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The 3 Things Recruiters Look For In Every Hire, Regardless of the Job

The 3 Things Recruiters Look For In Every Hire, Regardless of the Job

I have recruited for over 15 years in diverse industries (media, financial services, management consulting, pharma/biotech, education) at different levels (interns through senior executives) and in different roles (strategy and operations, creative and business, freelance and permanent). The searches would differ, of course – in terms of where I would look for candidates or how competitive the field would be. However, regardless of industry, level role, or how the search was conducted, I was always looking for a positive answer to these 3 questions:

Can you do the job?

This is what most candidates already focus on – aligning their skills and experience with what the job description says. A well-prepared candidate goes line-by-line through a job description and has specific examples to demonstrate each requirement and job responsibility. The best candidates don’t assume that the job description is accurate or exhaustive. The job posting could be outdated or merely a template that the hiring department didn’t fully customize. Make sure you confirm during your interviews the exact requirements for the job and expectations from management so you can highlight exactly what the decision-makers are seeking.

Can you do the job HERE?

You might be able to functionally do the job and even do the job better than most, but can you be successful with the environment, culture, team and expectations that this particular employer offers? To effectively answer this question, you need to know, not just the job, but the company and how that job fits into the overall organization and objectives of the specific company. Many candidates ask about culture and environment during the interview process, as if it’s just part of the decision after the fact. However, your ability to navigate the prospective employer’s culture is a competitive advantage you should be highlighting throughout your interview process. Research culture in advance and as you select examples to highlight your skills, make sure to include examples that match the culture and environment of this particular employer.

Can you do the job here NOW?

Sometimes I would find a talented candidate, who would also be a great fit for the company I was hiring for – i.e., the candidate affirmatively answers questions 1 and 2 above. But the candidate’s interest level or current objectives were not aligned with this particular role or this particular company. The candidate might be interested in more responsibility than this role offers. Or the candidate needs more support – a bigger team, a more hands-on manager – than how the company is currently structured. Or the candidate clearly has eyes for a start-up when my company is a Fortune 50 (or the other way around). Regardless of how well-suited the candidate is to the job and even to the company, the timing is such that the position overall doesn’t align with where the candidate wants to be. In addition to proving that you can do the job and that you fit with the company, you have to demonstrate that you want the job right now.

As a job seeker you might be overwhelmed by the many things you have to do to land your dream job. But you can break this down into manageable parts. It’s not about being able to answer every single variation of every possible interview question. Prepare to answer these 3 questions well, and you’ll be a very convincing candidate.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.


Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career and business coach with SixFigureStart®.  Her latest book is Jump Ship: 10 Steps To Starting A New Career (Forbes Media, 2015). She also writes a weekly advice column on Forbes.

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