9 Signs Of A Fantastic Applicant


Recruiters and managers who conduct interviews for new hires don’t have an easy task ahead of them.

When there are so many wonderful applicants, and all of them are there to offer you only their best traits, how can you choose?

Here are nine reliable signs to look for when making that difficult hiring decision.

A high school job

After a few years working in ‘real life’ jobs, many applicants will remove their high school jobs and activities from their resumes. If you see no evidence in the actual CV, inquire as to whether the candidate held any jobs during their high school years. Failing that, were they heavily involved in sports teams, volunteering, or other activities?

High school is a busy time and a great training ground for life, so when your applicant has made the most of his or her time there by working weekends or sticking to a training and sporting schedule, they may have a greater appreciation for what it means to work hard, even when it’s not necessarily required of them.

They ask unusual questions

Most candidates these days should ask questions about the workplace and people within it. You’ll get used to hearing things such as ‘what is the culture like?’, and ‘how does the structure work?’, but it’s the slightly unusual questions that should catch you.

Inquiries about the bigger workplace picture, such as the company’s beliefs, long-term goals or brand, may indicate a lateral thinker who is capable of seriously considering more than the up-front aspects of a company.

They are honest with you

At some point during your questioning during the interview, you should ask a few questions that could make an applicant squirm. They could be anything from ‘why are you leaving your current job?’ to ‘what do you find to be the hardest part of your current job?’

The answers to these questions can be very telling about a person’s character and what they might find challenging in the role you’re hiring for. Answers that are too glossy can be an indicator that they’re not being entirely honest, so spend a little time in these areas to determine whether or not you’re getting the whole truth.

They are looking for progression

If an applicant talks about the progression of their own career during the interview, consider adding a large tick next to their name.

It could be that they are looking to join your company in order to progress from a prior role that they have outgrown, or it may be that they simply want to know if there will be room for progression for the successful applicant further down the track.

Some recruiters may find this upfront question somewhat cheeky for someone who hasn’t even secured the job yet, but keep in mind what this means for the company. When someone wants to progress, they want to learn and improve, and they should be more than willing to put the work in to achieve that. An employee who is constantly looking for ways to upskill can be a valuable asset to any business.

They use the word ‘team’

Listen carefully to the words and phrases your applicant uses when talking about past experiences. Do they talk about how the team performed, how team goals were important, or how working as a team was important to them?

When you have candidate sitting in front of you who casually mentions teamwork in such a way, you could be looking at a potential hire who would work efficiently and effectively within a team by focusing on larger goals, helping others, and asking questions when needed. Even a somewhat solo-type position will often require working with others in some capacity, so looking for this personality trait can make onboarding processes and the future workplace culture that much better.

They dot their I’s

You can never go wrong with an employee with a keen eye for details. This will become apparent during the hiring process in a number of ways – not just during the interview itself.

The cover letter and any supporting documents should show a basic knowledge of correct grammar and spelling. Even if the applicant doesn’t usually excel in these areas, it doesn’t take much for them to ask a savvy friend to look over such documents in order to secure an interview. After the interview, an applicant who is meticulous with such details will likely send a follow-up email thanking you for your time.

They admit when they don’t know the answer

Knowing the answer to every question an interviewer asks is obviously an ideal, but it’s unlikely that every candidate will know every answer every time.

If you ask the potential employee about their knowledge on a certain subject, it will be obvious as to whether or not they know what you’re talking about. For those who can openly admit that they don’t, you can at least know that if you give them a job, they will be less likely to stumble through a project not knowing what they’re doing, and more likely to ask for help and do the project well.

They are interested in the industry

It’s one thing to be interested in the advertised position, another to be interested in the company, and completely another to be interested in the industry as a whole.

This holistic approach to their career suggests they are in it for the long haul with a real passion for what your company does and how it fits in with the rest of the market. Talk to your candidates about how often they read articles online surrounding the sector, or perhaps if they read magazines or blogs from industry leaders.

They come prepared

When a candidate walks through the door, take note of a few key indicators of their preparedness. Are they on time? Are they dressed appropriately? And do they have a copy of their CV, portfolio, or other necessary documents with them?

Once they sit down, is it obvious that they have taken the time to look through the company’s website, as well as any social media accounts it may run?

This level of preparedness is what you want to see in any workplace meeting or client interaction, so the interview is a good indicator of future organisation.