Reading Between the Lines: 5 Qualities To Look For in a Job Candidate

Two people in an interview at Addison Group

A resume is like the golden ticket to be considered for a job posting. It holds the information you need to know to see if a candidate can move forward to the interview stage. However, there is more to consider than what’s on a resume. Even though a resume highlights someone’s technical knowledge, it can be difficult to identify characteristics that show if a candidate is a good fit for a position. To see these qualities, you need to learn to read between the lines. Below we share the importance of reading between the lines, top qualities to look for in a job candidate, and how to find them.

Why It’s Important to Read Between the Lines

Finding people with the right experience is only a piece of the puzzle when searching for candidates. It doesn’t paint the entire picture of finding the ‘perfect candidate’ for the role.

For example, let’s say someone was perfect on paper and made it to the interview stage. They answer all your interview questions flawlessly, and you extend them a job offer. Their first week rolls around, and you realize the candidate you hired doesn’t connect with the rest of your team. The candidate may not be as flexible when pivoting from projects or doesn’t have the same communication style as the rest of your team.

To avoid this problem, read between the lines when hiring a candidate. This includes looking past their technical qualifications and learning about their soft skills throughout the hiring process.

5 Qualities to Look For in a Job Candidate and How to Find Them

When interviewing a candidate, technical expertise is important. While it’s easy to focus all your energy on finding someone who can get the job done, looking at their soft skills ensures the candidate is the right fit. You might ask yourself, ‘how do I know what to look for in a candidate?’ Luckily, we’ve laid out the top skills and how to find them below.

  1. Communication: Finding a candidate that has good communication skills is crucial. With strong communication, you know they’ll proactively ask questions about a project and keep you in the loop on all things work-related. Communication can be hard to recognize on a resume but is identifiable in your correspondence throughout the hiring process. Uncover this quality by noting how often they communicate with you throughout the hiring process and if they’re proactive when contacting you. For example, if the candidate needs to reschedule their interview, do they give you 24-hour notice or wait until a couple of hours before to let you know? You could probably bet the candidate who didn’t give the proper amount of time before rescheduling will continue similar habits if you hire them.
  2. Personality: In addition to communication, personality is an important soft skill to look for when hiring someone. Although work is the main reason you show up to your job, team comradery is what gets you excited to be there. This goes hand in hand with personality. You don’t want to hire someone who wouldn’t fit in with your team, so you need to pay attention to the candidate’s personality in interviews. Before starting your interview, with all the standard questions, is there any small talk between you and the candidate? Do they seem like someone your team would get along with outside the office? Answering yes to these questions is a good indicator that the candidate would be a personality match for your team.
  3. Flexibility: Things unexpectedly change from time to time. It’s a part of life – and it’s no different at work. The best way to roll with the punches is to be flexible since priorities can shift in minutes. Having someone on your team who can’t handle change can keep your team from growing. You won’t see this on a resume, but you can find it through interview questions focused on change. One of these questions could be, ‘Tell me about a time when you had to shift your priorities towards an urgent project. How did you handle that?’ A question like this can help show you if someone is flexible in the workplace. Most importantly, it can weed out the candidates who are stubborn regarding change.  
  4. Growth Mindset: Growth is more than learning from mistakes. It’s about looking towards the next phase in a career or reworking processes at a company. You want to look for this type of growth mindset in a potential hire. Candidates that value their growth will always look ahead to how they improve their skills and processes at their company. You want someone who not only wants to work for you in the short-term but also wants a future at your organization. This also helps ensure that a candidate’s goals align with your team’s so there aren’t any competing priorities.
  5. Team Player: The way to build a strong team is to find people who care about the overall success of their team, not just themselves. This means you should seek a candidate who can stand on their own, and more importantly, make your team stronger. This looks like not taking all the credit for a team project and helping drive initiatives toward the finish line. Failing to find someone who is a team player can be detrimental. It can lead to a decrease in team morale and may have people feel dissatisfied with their jobs. To easily pick out the team players, check their references. You’ll want to see if they have references from previous colleagues. Also, when you contact them, make sure to ask about how they were in a team environment. They would know better than anyone else if this person is a true team player.

Find the Right Hiring Partner

Resumes outline a candidate’s technical expertise, but knowing what soft skills to search for makes it easy to find the perfect candidate. Although knowing these skills makes narrowing down candidates easier, a lot of leg work still goes into hiring. Alone, this process can be overwhelming, but having the right teammate on your side can help.

With more than 20 years of experience, Addison Group knows all the ins and outs of hiring. We have the expertise to find candidates with the skills to add value to your organization. Connect with us today!


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