Recruiting in the current market can be tricky and some industries have it harder than others. It is therefore essential that you identify some key candidate characteristics in order to correctly focus your search.

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So many questions need answering when you have a vacancy and it can be difficult to determine from a CV or initial interview how good a fit an applicant will ultimately be. Will they really be up to the job? Do they share the values and ambitions of you, your current team and the business? Can any gaps in their experience be filled? And, if you find the perfect person on paper, will he or she actually fit in with everyone else?

Recruiting is a complex and time-consuming business so it pays to get it right. CVs will help you to identify candidates with the essential skill sets and experience so that in the interview, you can focus on verification and personality traits.


First impressions count and you’ll get a sense as to their confidence level as soon as the interviewee enters the room. Their handshake, their attire and their demeanour when they sit down will speak volumes even before you start the interview itself. Confidence about their performance to date and what they can bring to your business is a positive. However, some candidates may not appear outwardly confident so be prepared to dig a little. Conversely an interviewee may appear highly confident but could be over compensating for interview nerves or a lack of substance. Try not to make up your mind in the first few minutes, however tempting this may be.

Always remember that the tipping point between confidence and arrogance is easily reached, although this is usually easy to spot in conversation. The length of a standard interview should provide more than enough time for you to ascertain on which side your interviewee sits.


This is another trait that is easy to spot; you’ll get a sense of it within the first few minutes. Simply put, someone who is enthusiastic about what they do will do it to a higher standard than someone who lacks enthusiasm – so it is definitely a critical trait. If it’s not displayed outwardly, it is worth digging to see if you can find it when the interviewee talks about their career to date. It can be difficult to determine what impact nerves may be having but you should be able to get someone to talk enthusiastically on a subject about which they are passionate.

Team Player

Even if you don’t have a large team, it can be important to have someone who is suited to working in a team; there will always be a time when they will have to work in a group environment, taking direction from others.


Looking for initiative is what competency-based questions were designed for! If you want to know about initiative, ask. If they can demonstrate initiative, you can probably assume that they are proactive and open-minded.


And finally, you’ll want to verify their claimed abilities. Can they actually do the job? Their CV will have suggested so but it’s down to you to confirm. Check qualifications and experience and how they believe their skills will fit in with your business. This will give you an idea as to their understanding of the role and the company and how much research they’ve really done. This, in turn, gives you some indication as to how much they really want the job.

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