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Candidate Profile: Discerning Qualitative Characteristics.
By Sajjad Masud
Tuesday, 20th May 2014

Qualitative personality traits are one of the more difficult aspects of a candidate profile to fully grasp;

The extent to which a candidate displays qualitative characteristics like resourcefulness, independence and dependability isnít immediately clear during the interview process, for a variety of reasons.

To begin with, the interview process only mimics the experiences one may have within the job itself in a very tangential manner. A fleeting moment of cooperation during the interview doesnít necessarily mean that the candidate takes direction or constructive criticism well.

This is especially true when you consider that, during an interview, the majority of candidates are on their best behavior.

Compared with the more quantitative aspects of a candidate profile, the full extent of qualitative characteristics takes a much longer time to come forth and be realized. This difficulty in properly assessing the qualitative characteristics of candidates should come as no surprise to veteran human resource directors and hiring managers.

For the newly initiated, it is of critical importance to be aware and on guard to both positive and potentially negative qualitative characteristics within the candidate profile.

Following are some tips to aid in distinguishing between important qualitative characteristics in candidate profiles:

Whether you could be friends with the candidate is not relevant.

Regardless of setting Ė whether itís professional or outside of the work environment Ė the extent to which you get along with the candidate is not an indicator of their job performance or skill level. What is important, is keeping in mind the responsibilities of the job and whether you think the candidate has the appropriate skill levels to complete those responsibilities successfully.

The only perspective candidates provide is their own.

In attempting to suss out a candidateís qualitative characteristics, interviewers often lean on behavioral questions that highlight previous conduct. The intention is to determine how a candidate acted to something in the past Ė in a setting that isnít as constrained or contrived as interviewing Ė and use it to forecast future behavior.

The thought process behind these types of questions is generally good. They offer an opportunity for the candidate to show their critical-thinking processes and how quickly they respond on their feet. On top of that, the candidate can elaborate on their own perceived strengths.

However, the main deterrent that an interviewer has to take into consideration is that the candidate is describing their own version of events. Although the candidate may provide examples of times that they took initiative or leadership roles, itís important to make sure these assertions are grounded in truth.

Donít forget to look at a candidateís tangible characteristics.

To combat both of those potential traps, a significant portion of your hiring decision should be based on experiences and traits that you can concretely verify. Of course, there will be exceptions to this rule. Generally speaking, itís helpful for candidates applying to sales positions to be charismatic and outgoing Ė qualitative characteristics that probably will be measurable in an interview setting.

But for difficult-to-measure traits, itís best to stick with the evidence put before you. For clear and concise applicant tracking, to measure the quantitative components of a candidate profile, Simplicant offers a succinct recruiting software platform that improves recruiting workflow and allows you to make the best hiring decisions for your company.

What are some of the qualitative characteristics you look for in a candidate profile?

Sajjad Masud† is Co-founder & CEO of Simplicant, a cloud-based enterprise recruitment platform transforming talent acquisition and helping companies optimize their cost and time per hire. Simplicant's recruitment management system offers comprehensive functionality including social recruiting, employee referral, candidate relationship management, recruitment marketing and analytics.

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