Hiring managers: does this sound familiar? You have an applicant who’s seemingly a perfect fit for a role that you’ve advertised everywhere you can think of. They’ve completed the application, sent in your requested supporting documentation, and you’ve offered them an in-person interview on campus.
And then you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Your phone calls and emails go unreturned. You communicate your sense of urgency to the applicant in those messages - politely and professionally, of course.
But, what do you do next?
Most hiring managers have experienced some version of this scenario - the applicant who goes radio silent, or just plain procrastinates when you’re so close to the finish line.
You must draw a line in the sand. Give deadlines. If this person were a student seeking admission to your university, missing deadlines would not be acceptable. Nor should it be here. Because, unlike a yes-or-no decision to admit a student, your star applicant can be communicating a great deal about what kind of employee they might become by not actually acting like they want the job.
Dr. Neil Lavender, co-author of Toxic Coworkers: How to Deal with Dysfunctional People on the Job, says that evaluating a person’s character first is the best way to predict if they will be a good fit in any work environment.
Lavender advises prioritizing that attribute even over on-the-job experience. He points out that, once you have established that a candidate has a solid character - has values, gets along well with others, is honest and conducts themselves with integrity - they can be trained to do the job.
He adds he personally thinks that the best candidates have two important elements to their character: grit and conscientiousness. And, some evidence of those traits will show in the hiring process.
So, if you are contemplating a “great” candidate who is not playing well with others now, they might not after you hire them, too.
Kimberley Sirk is a North Carolina-based writer and editor with government, higher education and big-brand healthcare public relations and marketing experience.
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