Recruiting

When Should You Take a Chance on a Job Candidate?

Have you heard the one about the recruiter and the hiring manager? The recruiter asks about candidate qualifications, and the hiring manager says the person must be breathing.

Source: marchmeena29 / iStock/ Getty


In a tight labor market, when sourcing and referrals too often turn cold, it sometimes seems like any warm body will do. However, even when there are fewer candidates, you don’t want to settle for someone who isn’t qualified.
But what about a candidate who is sort of qualified, and who appears to have potential?

Assessing Experience

If the person falls a little short in the experience area, say four years experience when you want five or more, but meets all the other requirements, you’re probably not taking a chance by hiring him or her.
Unfortunately, decisions aren’t usually this straightforward.
It’s important to define what “sort of qualified” means in the context of a particular job. Does the candidate lack industry experience, experience the company has deemed necessary to the position? Are you hesitating because the experience he has seems transferable? Is his experience transferable, or is this wishful thinking on your part?

Assessing Credentials

The job may require a college degree. What if the otherwise stellar candidate doesn’t have one?
This can be a tough call. Is “a college degree” required or is a specific degree required? If it’s a specific degree, you may be hard pressed to make a case for hiring the candidate, unless he or she has far surpassed the necessity of a degree and this is evidenced by career progression.
If the inclination is to overlook a degree or other credential, give more weight to experience and skills.

Assessing Skills

As for skills, assessing these can be tricky as well. A candidate may display an interest in something, but interest and aptitude are very different.
Similarly, aptitude should translate to the tasks to be performed. A person may be mechanically inclined, but if she has never worked on the equipment in your factory there could be a learning curve. This may or may not be OK.
Assess skills carefully. It should go without saying that you want to look for both hard and soft skills that are relevant to the position.

Assessing Attitude

The candidate’s skills need further developing, but the person has a can-do attitude—and he has succeeded at every job he’s held. He also knows about your company and admires it. He’s eager to be a member of the team.
How much does attitude matter? Should you take a chance on the candidate?
Have you heard this one about the recruiter and hiring manager? The recruiter says, “The candidate’s skills need further developing, but the person has a can-do attitude—and he has succeeded at every job he’s held. He also knows about our company and admires it. He’s eager to be a member of the team.” The hiring manager says, “When can he start?”

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.