Hiring 101 Part 2—What Are You Looking For?

Hiring 101 PART 2: In this video, Recruiting Daily Advisor Editor Stephen Bruce talks about inning down exactly what you are looking for in a candidate. In our previous video, we looked at the 4 things you need to do before you start hiring.

SB: SB: This is Steve Bruce for the HR Daily Advisor

This video is the second in our series Hiring 101. It’s about pinning down exactly what you are looking for in a candidate.

In their eagerness to get started, many managers launch a search before they have clarified exactly what they are looking for in a new employee. This failure is the root of most hiring problems. If you don’t know what you are looking for, you won’t attract the best candidates—because they can tell you don’t know what you’re doing— and you won’t know how to evaluate the ones who do apply. And once you’ve hired the wrong person, there are going to be problems.

Let’s talk about what to do.

List the key duties, responsibilities, and tasks of the person who will hold this position.

  1. Remember to focus on the job itself and not so much on the person who last held it.
  2. Indicate the percentage of time spent on each responsibility. Star the essential functions of the position.
  3. Get a copy of the job description. Compare the job description with your list.
  4. Identify any flexibility you have in assigning tasks. Perhaps a co-worker could take on a part of the job if top candidates are unable to perform that particular part. Then identify key traits and characteristics a candidate must possess. For example:
    • What technical experience and expertise must the candidate possess?
    • What capabilities and characteristics are necessary?
    • Must this person coordinate with others? Work under pressure? Meet deadlines?
    • Be persuasive, persistent, diplomatic, or forceful?
    • Be able to close sales? Motivate others? Be mathematically inclined? Be team-oriented?
    • What failure in performance would likely get the person in this job fired?
    • What aspects of this job have caused the greatest problems for management?

Each job is different, but all jobs have characteristics that you can identify and that you can evaluate as you look at candidates.

When you are comfortable with your description of what you are looking for, share it with your boss, perhaps a colleague or another person in a similar position. Do they agree that you have captured the essential requirements?

Next, you have to translate all of this into a listing that you can use in a posting, an ad, or email to an employment agency or a candidate. For instance, you might want to specify a certain number of years of experience at a specific job or job type, specific duties or responsibilities held, degrees, certification, or special training required, computer abilities or software familiarity, and so on. Check to be sure that you haven’t set requirements that are unnecessary (such as a college degree for a clerical position); that could set your organization up for a discrimination lawsuit.

Avoid any mention of age, sex, race, religion, disability or national origin, or any characteristic protected by your state law (for example, sexual preference, marital status, or public assistance status).

Before sending it out, review your posting critically:

  • Would someone reading this get a good picture of the job and what you are looking for?
  • Will the information help unqualified applicants screen themselves out?
  • Will the candidate you have described be attracted to your position at the salary you can pay?
  • If you are satisfied, you are ready to start looking.

Be sure to check out the next video in the Hiring 101 Series—Finding Qualified Candidates. For detailed guidance on hiring and all your HR challenges, we recommend This is Steve Bruce for the HR Daily Advisor.