What You Need to Know About a Candidate Before You Hire Them! 

For our regular blog readers it comes as no surprise that PACE’s approach to hiring is all about finding a candidate who is a good fit for a particular job and work environment.   Yes, that candidate will have the skills and work experience necessary to do the job, but we believe even more important is the match up with all those components of “fit” that result in a candidate who can not only do the job but will love doing it at very high levels.  As we talk about often, we believe that taking the time to find an employee who is the right fit has big pay offs – improving the productivity of a team, making it easier to retain team members, and in general positively impacting the team’s morale.

We’ve seen it multiple times – hiring decisions based on “fit” are decisions that “make a big difference” to the team’s success.

While the process of FIT FINDING requires a hiring manager to get clear about the job, the work environment and the candidate, this blog is about the candidate side of fit finding – what you need to know about a candidate to determine if they are the “right fit” for the job you are hiring for.  It assumes you’ve already taken the time to understand the job, its content, and all those things about the work environment that matter! 

Here’s FIVE factors you need to get clear any job candidate when hiring for “fit”…

#1  The Candidate’s CAN DOS – their concrete SKILLS and KNOWLEDGE they need to do the job!     

How do you get answers to these questions? 

While a good portion of your interview needs to dig into the specifics of a candidate’s actual work experience, avoiding assumptions that get made simply by looking at the job titles and descriptions of work that appear on their resume, if you have any concerns at all, there’s nothing like a comprehensive skills assessment program to see for yourself if the employee has the skills and knowledge they claim to have.  If you haven’t invested in skills testing software, reach out to PACE.  We have a comprehensive library of skills assessment exercises that we can use to “skill test” a candidate for an affordable cost.

#2  The Candidate’s WANNA DOS – uncovering those  intrinsic talents and work preferences that they enjoyed doing in the past that are likely to make them successful “at this job, in this work environment”.  

How can you find out?

This is where your behavioral interview comes into play, asking questions that zero in on……

  • Things the candidate liked or didn’t like about their previous jobs.  What specific types of work they have been good at or not so good at in previous jobs?  
  • Their personal hobbies or activities they do outside of work, and WHY they enjoy them?

We find that candidates will report that they enjoyed certain components of their past jobs that they were good at.  If you uncover a candidate didn’t like a particular type of work, chances are its the type of work they aren’t that good at.  Knowing the kind of work a candidate likes and is good at is key to finding that fit between the candidate’s strengths and the actual job content.   

#3 The Candidate’s Extrinsic MOTIVATORS (or DeMotivators) – things that will turn them on or off about where they work.        

How will you uncover this information? 

Every interview needs to include a discussion with a candidate about the work history you see on a resume or application from a motivational perspective.   There is actually a simple formula that you can use to get the information you need to identify patterns and trends.  For each job ask…..

  • Why did they take each job? Why did they leave?
  • What they liked AND disliked about each job ?
  • How long did they stay at each job?  Was there a difference in how long they stayed at a job they liked, compared to one they didn’t like?  
  • Is there a pattern of personal or job satisfaction issues that seem to crop up, prompting a job change?

NOTE:   Many interviewers will short cut the work history analysis, preferring to ask what the candidate is hoping to “gain” from their next job.  We think that question short changes the real question which is how they actually made decisions in the past.   Hiring for “fit” is about finding out what type of job or work environment has been the “right fit” in the past. 


#4  The LOGISTICS –  More Can and Wanna Dos

How will you find out?  

Questions that are focused on the candidate’s ability to comply with the logistics of the job are one of the most important components of a screening interview – making sure that the more comprehensive interviewing to focused only on the candidates who meet the logistical requirements.  Where the job is performed?  Workplace rules and boundaries? etc. 

Most logistics relevant questions have simple yes no answers  (ex.  are you able to work in our Renton office 3 days a week?) but don’t be afraid to ask for reasons behind the yes’s nos or probe more deeply.  (ex.  You indicated that you didn’t like working from home in your last job?  How will you deal with the 2 days you will work from home in this job?)

We always recommend our client give a job candidate a tour of their physical facility so that they have an opportunity to observe the work environment, their future teammates in action.  

#5 The Candidate’s Typical or Preferred WORK STYLE ..…. 

…requires you to uncover a candidate’s preferred way of working – the kind of alignment between the “way we do things around here” and how the candidate prefers to work that can be a deal breaker when a new employee uncovers post hire that they are not a good fit for the work environment.

How can you get answers to these types of questions? 

Again, the key is to ask the candidate specific questions about what they have done in their past jobs that approximates the kind of issues they are likely to face in your work environment.  These are the kinds of questions that often go beyond what can be covered in a screening interview and are typically handled by a hiring manager in a more in depth evaluation interview. 

A screening interview, for example,  might include very generic inquiry about the candidate’s preferences for a particular type of work environment…

    “Based on your previous jobs, are there any kind of work environments that you found to be problematic for you?  A boss that didn’t give you the support you needed?  A work environment was challenging for you?”

An evaluation interview on the other hand, can be much more specific about the candidate’s experience handling specific types of situations that are commonplace…..

         “Have you had experience working in an environment where it was very difficult to get in touch with your boss when  issues would come up?  Where you had to solve problems on your own, oftentimes with very limited ways to reach out for help.  Describe how you handled that type of challenge.       



PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 45 years.

A 5-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation, PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of hiring help and candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

If you’re a hiring manager who is looking to improve their hiring results, contact us at 425-637-3312.  You can also fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!

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