Candidate Specs That Make Sense

Looking to hire for a key role in your organization?  Now is the time to implement a new approach to interviewing, assessing, and selecting talent.

Your first step?  Begin by developing well-thought-out job and candidate specifications.

After prioritizing the outcomes you are targeting to achieve over the next 18-24 months in a job specification, prepare a candidate specification.  A well-crafted candidate specification identifies the technical competencies and experiences that are required to be successful in the role.  It also spells out   those qualitative attributes that will ensure that candidate’s fit with the culture, leadership, and values of the organization.

Organize the competencies, experiences, and attributes you have identified into three categories: “should have”, “deal breakers”, and “can be learned.”

First, what needs to be considered for the “should have” list?  These competencies, experiences, and attributes flow directly from the job specification.  What is necessary to successfully perform the job tasks and responsibilities associated with each targeted outcome?   Include those competencies, experiences, and attributes necessary to achieve team-based requirements.  Also, address business and job-based challenges to successful performance.

Second, what are “deal breakers”?  If a candidate does not possess these one or two competencies, experiences, and/or attributes identified in the “should have” list, you agree not to move forward – even if the candidate possesses everything else. Confirming these “deal breakers” upfront prevents debate later in the interview and assessment process as to what really matters.

Lastly, name what can be learned on the job. Top-quality candidates want to grow and develop in their jobs.  If there’s no opportunity for that, there’s nothing someone’s going to learn in the job.  Then you must ask yourself, why would a top-quality candidate be interested in the job? Doing the same job as the one held before is not an attractive proposition to top talent.

Laura Butcher and I have collaborated to share our experience in helping leaders and organizations interview, assess, and select talented people in Hire the Best, in both e-learning and virtual class formats. Listen to our podcast to learn more at