Here's the thing no one tells you about hiring the perfect candidate: that there is no such thing as the perfect candidate.
Hiring is like dating; you accept each other, cross your fingers and hope it all works out. There is no discerning way (yet) to find out how truly good (or bad) someone is until the person is doing the work and interacting with the organization. Only then you're able to witness their knowledge and capabilities in real-time. The decision to hire that 'perfect' candidate is, ultimately, a gamble.
It is not all bad news, you may not get a 100% match when you swipe right, but you can damn well ensure it's close enough to 90%.
Being punctual, well-mannered and best prepared are no longer unique qualities, but are simply expected of any good candidate. Beyond the resume and "where do you see yourself in five years?" modus operandi, here are some non-traditional techniques you can try instead:
1. Do your homework
For instance, if you're hiring for a social media role, check out a couple of posts from the candidate's current employment pages. Ask them how those came about, what campaign they did, what the process was like, and if there's anything they'd do differently. Understanding the thought process behind their actions helps to determine if the candidate is a creative thinker and someone who is able to identify all the small steps needed to contribute to the larger picture.
2. Consistency is key
Arrange to see the candidate more than once, and at a different venue or setting each time. It is always a great first impression within a formal corporate setting, but it can be eye-opening to observe the candidate in a new environment. Something as simple as over coffee at a cafe, or a walk and talk can present the candidate in a new light. During this time, they may not look, act or present themselves the way they first did. Do they hold the door open for a stranger on the way out of the building? Do they pick up the phone on the coffee table or say thanks to the barista? Are they any less professional in an informal setting? These may seem menial, but they would give you the opportunity to gain some insight into their personality traits.
I like to know if a candidate is passionate about anything and stand for something. Do their eyes lit up when they talk about their favourite football team winning the league, or if the new season of their favourite show is back on. If I were to make a decision between two almost equal candidates in skills and qualifications, I would always choose the one who is passionate about something. Someone passionate is often motivated, and that alone can be singularly powerful in its advantage.
Data is objective and will get the most qualified and experienced candidate in the room. Values are subjective and a great way to find out if the candidate has a genuine, authentic desire to join your company. Because when their personal values align with your culture, the potential is limitless.
Well then, what about the other 10% you ask? Nurture on the job.
A mentor once told me, "I observe and find out what your best qualities are, your strength, and I nurture those ready strongest assets. Now your professional mission is to then take that to the next level in your area of work."
And there you have it, your 100%. Wait, did I mention that there is no such thing as the perfect candidate?