The “Ideal” Job Candidate Doesn’t Exist

2 Minutes Read

Admit it. The reason you’ve put off hiring someone to fill that open executive-level position in your company is because you believe there’s an ideal candidate out there just waiting to apply.

All it takes is patience, and you’ll eventually find the one individual who comes with everything—experience handling the specific challenges your small business faces, a willingness to work 60 or more hours a week and the ability to translate your somewhat vague vision of the future into practical action—and at the salary level you feel is most appropriate.

Let’s Banish Those Thoughts Right Now

Like Santa Claus and the Loch Ness Monster, this ideal candidate doesn’t exist. The truth is that no one person possessing exactly the right experience and skill level is going to turn up at your door. And anyone who comes is still a risk.

You can take our word for it, or like many stubborn entrepreneurs and small business owners, you can spend a needless amount of time and money and still end up with no new hire at all or one selected simply out of frustration. Each of those outcomes can cost you big time in the long run.

SEE ALSO: 6 Warning Signs of a Bad Hire

Finding a Great Candidate While Maintaining Realistic Expectations

Fortunately, there are ways to approach the candidate-selection process without clinging to a perfectionist attitude:

Don’t go it alone.

Depending on the size of your business, you may or may not have a person dedicated to filling open positions. If you’ve taken on this responsibility alone—based on the assumption that only you will know the perfect applicant when he or she appears—talented candidates could be slipping through your grasp because you’re fixated on finding that one person who checks off every box on your list.

A more effective option is getting advice from others. Think about putting together a team of people within the business—with, ideally, at least one person who will be working directly with the chosen candidate—and benefit from the fresh perspectives this team offers.

Itemize the “must-have” traits for the job.

You probably have a better idea of what you don’t want in a job candidate than what you absolutely need to have. Before starting the next round of interviews, compile a list of “must-haves” (say, three to four requirements) and work from there.

What skills or type of experience would you like to see in the applicant and which ones can you live without? Match the elements on your list to the people you interview and see who looks the best.

SEE ALSO: 4 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Hiring Process

Look at your past hiring record.

Viewed objectively, how effective has your hiring process been in the past? Did the individuals you hired because of a gut feeling turn out to be valuable assets to the business or were they ineffectual on the job and a costly drain of your time and resources? A good hard look at your own track record of hiring people might put your quest for the ideal candidate in a more realistic light.

Most importantly, once you and your team have selected an individual for the open position, do everything you can to help them succeed. Give them the best tools and resources to work with. Be generous with your own time in guiding this person toward the performance you desire. Focusing on the new hire’s success in the early days goes a long way toward ensuring that he or she becomes, if not the ideal candidate, a great choice for your business.

We invite you to join other entrepreneurs, CEOs, and senior-level executives in a confidential group setting where you’ll be challenged and rewarded like never before in your professional life. Learn more about becoming a Catapult Group member today.

Brad Mishlove