How to Hire Someone Who Doesn’t Fit the Job Description

April 26, 2018 3:50 am35 commentsViews: 151

When hiring an applicant for an open position, placement consultants often advise you to stick to the job description (JD). This advice is given to avoid future conflicts with regards to qualifications. However, not all talented and well-deserving candidates fit the JD. That is why it is essential for recruiters to widen their horizons for hiring decisions.

Limiting your hiring process to focus on a traditional set of skills and setting JD as the principle criterion by which to assess a candidate could be a terrible predictor of future success. Sometimes, applicants with an unconventional background or unstable career trajectory might just have a lot to offer than those with a more traditional career.

To make sure you don’t lose out on talented candidates, here are some tips hiring those who don’t necessarily fit the JD.

Read Through Candidate Information

Whether it’s a summary, a resume or cover letter, skim through the fine print so you know what you are dealing with. Don’t judge a book by its cover, getting hung up on a title or a position that’s not listed. Instead, look for skills and strengths that will benefit the organization in the long run. A savvy applicant will highlight qualities that are of use to the company and role. They will also summarize how they stand out rather than relying on job titles to convey the information.

Use Behavioural Interviewing Methods

Ask the candidate to describe a problem or situation where they put their skill set to use. Provide them with situations that test their capabilities and assess their aptitude for dealing with the demands of the job. Accomplishments are a good sign, but recruiters must understand how the candidate fairs in real life simulations to judge how effective they would be as employees.

Use References to Understand the Candidate Better

Check for references from previous bosses and colleagues or classmates to identify the candidate’s willingness to learn, social skills, integrity, sincerity, tenacity, and adaptability. Scan through the references carefully for specific examples of how the applicant has developed and improved on their strengths and weaknesses. If you do happen to talk with people who recommended the candidate, be sure to describe the position in great detail and ask if they think the said candidate’s skills and experiences would be useful.

Focus on Their Willingness to Learn

This is a very important trait to look for in a candidate. A candidate that meets the JD but shows reluctance to learn and improve is a futile investment. Such a candidate will have less to contribute to your group compared to someone who doesn’t have the requisite experience but shows a willingness to learn. Also, inquire how difficult it was for them to acquire a new skill and how they approached the process. This will help you understand if this applicant will not give up in tough times and keep moving forward.

Ultimately, good hiring decisions are as subjective as objective. Recruiters can also take advice from experienced placement consultants who are well-versed with the nitty-gritty of the process.


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