Whether you are a recruiter or you are a founder of the company, all go through same challenges finding a right candidate for the job. I wanted to share our experience as an IT Outsourcing company in both US and India trying to find candidates and how the best distinguish themselves from the crowd.

Types of candidates

People can be at various stages in their job search process. And their behavior through out the process shows where they are.

  1. Some candidates would be desperately looking for job,
  2. While some have started searching for job with an existing job;
  3. And third ones are those who are on a job, have another job offer but still looking for more offers

It is the 3rd type of candidates that you would really have to watch out for. By accepting one offer and still looking for another one, their integrity is already in doubt.

Email, Cover Letter with Resume

Many times the email or the cover letter itself is a good indicator of what is coming.

Not many candidates write cover letter anymore. Nowadays the email has replaced that anyway. And there is nothing wrong in not having cover letter in modern days. But a good email is necessary.

If the email is short, the candidate is too fresh and looking for job because he thinks he is "supposed to look for one" rather than he "wants to". Many times we get email that has only one sentence. "I need job." These resources will be abrupt and not communication savvy. They may have some hard-skills but not soft-skills. You cannot put them in client facing situations.

Candidates may write too long emails and while that can be an indicator of their writing skills, it is also indicator that they are better at excusing themselves from most of the situations and not really action oriented. In modern age, people do not have time to read long emails, leave alone time for writing those emails. (Ironically, you can ask why to write this long blog post :)

If you spot one or two typos, you may not blame them because you never know if they used touch pad to type those emails or whether some auto-correct tool went wrong. But too many typos is clear indication that they don't pay attention to what is most important for them.

If there are standard sentences and seems like this could be coming from a progeny of Shakespeare, you can just copy the portion of statement and put it in google. Search with double quotes, like "interested in your esteemed organization", and you may know where it is copied from. If your job demands skills in copy/paste skills, this could be right candidate.

A right candidate will have short email that briefly tells

  1. Why they are interested in the job or how they heard about you
  2. Highlight of what to look for in their resume
  3. Request to meet and availability of their time


A well-formatted resume would definitely stand out, but it is more important then candidate creates his own resume and does not copy someone else's. We recently had seen a resume with education finishing in 1998 and candidate with 3+ years of experience in 2017. This did not make sense. Obviously he took format from an older colleague and forgot to change the dates.

You would also notice typos in some resume. A right candidate would be very careful about the typos in the resume. In technical world, the typo is not only spelling mistake but the capitalization matters as well. JavaScript is written as "JavaScript" and not "javascript" or "Javascript". C# is written as "C#" and not "c#" or "C Sharp".

As a hiring manager we look for what is candidate's own role and responsibility for the project they were working on. Some candidates with lack of soft-skills think it is more important to explain what the "project" was and what the "client" was rather than what their own role was. You can't blame a guy with few years of experience for this, but if its coming from 7+ years and the guy is applying for lead role, you need to be careful.

From experience highlight section in the resume, search few phrases in Google with double quotes, and if you see the same phrases on the web you will be surprised where it is coming from. I had seen a technical resume where the guy did not write proper English in email but the resume had pretty heavy phrases. When I searched, I landed onto a Linked In profile of some doctor.

Follow-up Process

You will find enough complaints on LinkedIn and other places about how some recruiters or hiring managers are not responding to candidates after the interview or after application. And unanimously those recruiters are declared inhuman on social media. Agreed! but have you met the candidates who do not respond to calls or emails?

Right candidate is going to respond in reasonable amount of time whether he (or she) is available or not. He does not have to answer every damn question that a recruiter has, but he would at minimum respond once that he is not available anymore.

During the process if he is interested, he would ask questions. No question can be seen as either lack of confidence or lack of full commitment.

Many candidates still don't understand the importance of putting their phone number (useful to tap and call from touchscreen phone) of email address (useful for copy) in their email signature.

In the language of the follow up email, you can immediately see the future characteristics whether they will be right fit. Many are just abrupt, their email answer could be "Yes", "not interested".

First Call/Interaction

When you have your first interaction with the candidate either over phone or face-to-face, you may want to ask about why they are considering job change and history of the job changes. While you may have read on social media angst about what is the business of a company to ask why candidate is leaving current job - it is important to make sure he is not going to have same reasons leaving jobs at your company either.

You will get some cookie-cutter answers like better prospect or newer technology. Nothing wrong with that though. But these are questions can drive you to learn more about the candidate. If he is open, that means he is looking forward to working with you. If he is not open at all, that means he is just checking out and you may not want to waste too much time for them.

Interview Process

I heard from an owner of an HR consulting firm that "we all hire for hard skills and fire for soft skills". This is true. A typical interview process only checks whether the candidate possesses the technical skills or hard skills for the job.

I asked our interviewers whether they would like to work with the candidate they just interviewed. And they normally say, we would not know without working with them for few weeks or few months. TRUE - but every individual has behaviors and those will be on display when open ended questions are asked. e.g.

> What do you do when you are done with your assignment before the target date?

> Describe what problems were you working on yesterday at the job and how you fixed it?

> Give an example of a most complex problem you faced in any project.

> What do you do when you can't fix a problem.

> Give examples of non-technical issues a team has that negatively affects the environment. Have you ever met anyone with these types of attributes.

This sort of discussion may make candidate comfortable in talking about real issues faced at work. And those are the issues you want to learn about.

... and After

The time after the interview process, a right candidate is going to follow up proactively. If he does not follow up, and you liked him then you will follow up anyway! But not receiving an email about "how it was nice meeting you" or "enjoyed the talk" etc. shows a bit of lack of interest or lack of proactive-ness.

While you forgive that you will start the salary talk. This in itself is a big topic for another blog but a quick note - right candidate will first show his own interest and value that he brings in and will not discuss salary unless asked. The other folks are too quick to jump to the salary discussion. When they start demanding you know it will not going to end well anyway.