What should you look for in a candidate when you're hiring?

It’s quite simple if you think about it. You should hire someone who can do the job. But it’s more complicated than that. There are numerous factors that affect your hiring decision. Even in a world where there is a perfect candidate for the perfect job, there are still some instances where we can’t have everything. Recruitment bias is still existent but that doesn’t stop us from knowing what to look for in a candidate when you’re hiring. 

Hiring someone isn’t binary. It’s not a yes or no. There are a series of things that a person must do in order for them to hire the best candidate. Additionally, there are a lot of factors involved, some are within our control, some are not. In fact, some of which might even be unrelated to their actual jobs. But that’s how hiring is, it’s looking for someone who fits not just the job, they should fit the role, the team, and most importantly, the company. Here are some important factors that you need to consider when you’re trying to make a good hiring decision:


Remember that you should have a budget before hiring. Check if your candidate fits your budget. You’ll always have that candidate that you’ll fall in love with just because he or she seemed perfect. But then, you can’t afford them. Don’t make a mistake of not following your budget just because you thought you found the one.


Everyone is experienced in their own unique ways. We have different career paths and we have different career goals. Most of the time, you look for someone’s experience in the industry. This helps in a way that the candidate has knowledge of what industry your company is participating in. Or maybe, it could also be about the type of business experience that the candidate has. Are you looking for someone who is experienced in B2B or B2C? Or maybe, you’d rather hire a fresh graduate and invest in training while their experience is still a tabula rasa. Get back to your job description and see what type of experience best fits your requirements.


Most of the time, the position that you’re hiring for would have a skill requirement. Before you even start looking for these skills in your candidates, make sure you know what you’re looking for. Sometimes, we’re tempted to look for someone who knows “everything.” But then, this might prove to be counterproductive. E.g. You’re looking for a Java developer then end up hiring a developer who knows 20 more programming languages. You might be wasting your own human resource, or worse, money for paying someone who’s overqualified for the position. Of course, test them.

Job Role

You need to have a clear cut Job Description (JD) of what you expect from someone. And please, stop being vague. You can’t just expect a developer to “easily adapt to all new programming language trends.” If I were the candidate, I might think that the company doesn’t even know what they need just because they have a very general JD. Having a vague JD might end you up with a newly hired employee who doesn’t know “this” just because you never specifically mentioned it. The closer a candidate is to your JD, the better.

Company Fit

Companies are like living organisms. They have a personality. They are founded by a community that is driven from top to bottom, left to right. Cultures can be built, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Let’s say, for example, your company has this culture of being competitive. They enjoy the spirit of competition just because it motivates them to do better. Does this fit your candidate? Remember that you’re also hiring a person and not just an employee. This person will spend a huge chunk of his/her day working in your company. Think of how a working relationship will be beneficial to both the employee and the employer.

Work Ethic

We all have different work ethics and we can produce different results while having the same strategic goals. Some might work slower than others but produce perfect outcomes while others may work very fast with a few setbacks in the outcomes. Some take time to produce ideas while others are overflowing with it. This is something that you need to check with your candidate. You can understand a candidate’s work ethic by asking personal interview questions.

Candidate Expectations

Being in a job isn’t just about getting things done in exchange for the paycheck. It’s about being committed to a relationship. And that works if it’s a mutual relationship between an employee and a company in terms of expectations. As much as you’re looking for qualifications in a candidate, you should also be aware of what they are expecting from you, and if you can provide for it. For example, there are some candidates who value retirement planning. And if this is something that your company doesn’t provide, the most that you should do is be transparent about it so that the candidate doesn’t expect. It’s all about managing expectations.

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