Hiring challenges rage on for small businesses and big corporations alike, with little chance of a turnaround coming any time soon. According to the latest Labor Department report, US job openings skyrocketed to a seasonally adjusted, record-breaking 11.55 million in March 2022. An astonishing 4.5 million employees quit their jobs that month, while new hires hovered around 6.7 million. Just do the math. The labor market is brutal. But there is actually a plus side for employers in this crazy hiring dynamic, as there is a plethora of talented, seasoned job seekers looking for something better. And that something better could be your business.
Movement in the employment sector allows savvy, forward-thinking business owners access to professionals who priorly may have been out of reach. Many organizations have spent the last few years enhancing their company culture in an effort to create environments in which employees thrive and where job seekers want to work. Hopefully, this applies to your business and you are able to at least get some interested talent in the door for job interviews (if not, it is time to revisit the company culture equation).
Don’t Settle for Just Okay
While the labor market is challenging, it is important that employers don’t reluctantly accept underqualified talent or candidates with characteristics that don’t align with the company culture. As a forward-thinking business owner, it is essential to consider both short-term needs and long-term goals. If you are forced to settle for a mediocre candidate, it is time to rethink that company culture and perhaps your compensation package.
What to Look for in a Great Candidate
While every position carries its own set of requirements, it is essential when vetting potential employees to look beyond the hard skills needed to perform the job. Of course, you are not going to hire an auto mechanic who has only worked on bicycles; for the most part, unless you are committed to on-the-job training, candidates do need to possess the required skills. But what else? What are those qualities that tend to be indicators of not just a good employee, but a rock star that can really add value to the team and your long-term business goals?
1. Strong Communication
Attentive listeners and effective communicators are huge assets that can be surprisingly lacking in many business environments. Strong communicators tend to be top on the list for promotions and leadership roles. On the other hand, employing poor communicators can negatively impact just about every facet of your business including productivity, accountability, customer satisfaction… really everything.
Job interviews are tremendously good windows into a candidate’s communication style and abilities. Do they make eye contact with you? Are they answering your questions in a polished, clear manner? Do they provide a little extra to the conversation? These are all telltales of an effective communicator and someone to whom you may want to give extra consideration.
2. Great Attitude
Judging a job candidate’s attitude is a little more challenging, as most people at least intend to put their best foot forward during an interview. But attributes like enthusiasm and positivity are surprisingly difficult for most people to feign. So look for that shine when a job candidate is discussing their successes or how they overcame an obstacle. Maybe ask them what gets them up in the morning or how they deal with challenges.
Keep in mind that there is more to having a great attitude than simply saying the correct words. Attitude is as much about energy as it is giving what is perceived as the right answer.
Research suggests that most employers don’t hire for creativity, particularly for entry and mid-level positions. Instead, they opt for “inside the box” thinking that helps to ensure compliance and job-specific performance. The argument is, however, if you filter out creative thinkers at the bottom, there is a massive lack of creativity rising through the ranks.
While the aforementioned communication skills are relatively easy to assess in a job interview, gauging creativity is a bit more challenging for business owners. We’ve all read those crazy tech interview questions like Google’s infamous “Why are manhole covers round?” But do questions like these really help to uncover creativity?
A better approach might be to ask a job candidate about the most creative thing they have ever done outside the workplace. For obvious reasons, interviewees tend to answer questions in a way that correlates to their job or their performance successes. By removing their job from the creative equation, it frees the candidate to talk about creativity in a deeper, more comprehensive, and perhaps more insightful way.
These three qualities – strong communication skills, positive attitude, and creativity – are among the top indicators of a successful, mutually beneficial, and satisfying hire. So as you continue to forge your way through to the other side of current employment challenges, be sure to seek out these dynamic skills. You may just land your next all-star employee.