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Heather’s Hiring Tips: Part 2 – What Employers Look At

By: Alex Nikotina

Published On: February 2, 2016

The hiring process can be a stressful experience for an organization, which is why it is important to hire the right candidate for the position. What does the hiring process look from the employer’s perspective?

Last week, we met up with Heather, Ashton’s Talent Acquisition Specialist, to get her insights on hiring remote employees. This week, we are continuing the discussion on hiring by looking at the employer’s thoughts on the hiring process. This is the second article in our series of Heather’s Hiring Tips – tune in next week to learn more!

Is hiring getting more difficult?

I would not say that the hiring process itself is getting more difficult. On the contrary, with all the technologies and software programs that are available to us now, the process itself has become much easier. Certain steps that used to take a lot of time and manual effort from me are now replaced by a few clicks on the computer.

The only difficulty that I would point out is the fact that there are a lot more new jobs in the workforce. Technological expansion and extended focus on creativity and innovation in the workplace (which is what the majority of organizations are striving towards now) have given way to non-traditional job positions. For instance, positions like Online Education Coordinator that we have here at Ashton were not needed a few years ago – they basically had to be created to keep up with the needs of the workplace.

As a result, there is a lot more research that goes into hiring staff. I would say that for me, I am spending a lot of time on thinking what the position the person is applying to should look like. What are the department managers looking for? What will be the person’s daily tasks? It is my job to figure out what the position would entail, and then find a person with unique set of skills that would be a good fit for that position.

What key characteristics do employers value the most in the candidates?

I would say one of the most important ones is having a passion for the job you're applying for. I always say that the person’s job should not be a chore.

I am looking for people who like and enjoy what they do. I believe it is very important to create a dynamic culture at work, and this is what the majority of the organizations are now looking for. Can the individual add value to the team? Would they fit in to the established environment and strive in it? If the person is not interested in the position and looks at the job as a routine, I do not think he/she will succeed.

In terms of other characteristics, I am always looking for a person with good communication skills, somebody who is reliable, accountable, understands time-management and has the necessary job-specific skills. I believe these characteristics are a must in the majority of workplaces.

What would make the candidate stand out among others?

I would say that the candidate really stands out when he/she takes the interview question and really personalizes their answer to it. Look at it from the employer’s or the hiring manager’s perspective: we have likely asked similar questions to several candidates. If you are giving a generic, non-specific answer, we most likely have heard it many times before.

Successful candidates are often the ones that link their responses to their personality and the position they are applying to. They also generally make a good impression with the interviewer, be it in terms of their punctuality, genuine responses, friendliness or politeness – all of these factors add to the overall good perception of the candidate. On top of that, the person’s healthy enthusiasm and their knowledge of the organization and the position they are applying for are very important.

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Do you have any examples of candidates who really impressed you?

I have had a few people who were able to convey their enthusiasm for the position through the cover letter. I know it can be a difficult task to do, and that is why it is always impressive to receive a well-written, well-researched cover letter.

I’ve also had a couple of online instructors who were very creative during their microteaching session – a mini-lesson they do as part of their evaluation process. They were able to make an interactive online lesson, using different everyday objects in creative ways.

Another memorable situation I had happened when I was trying to hire a graphic designer. A young girl from New Zealand brought her full portfolio to the interview. It was well-organized and related to the work she was going to do for Ashton. This showed to me her professionalism and preparedness.

What are some of the key things employers look at when they interview the candidate?

One of the key things would be seeing the candidate’s personality during the interview. When doing the hiring, the employer and the hiring manager usually have an idea of what kind of person they are looking for, in terms of personality, enthusiasm, and experience, among other factors.

At the same time, the hiring manager is looking for a ‘perfect match’ for the job and the organization. It is important, as I mentioned earlier, to see whether the person would be compatible with the organization’s work environment, whether they have an ability to learn new skills and materials quickly, and whether they would get along with the department manager.

It is often the case that the person doing the hiring knows the work environment well, so they know what people would work well for a certain position in the organization. However, I always say that we should be flexible.

Even if you think you know everything about what kind of person you are looking for, you should keep an open mind when interviewing the candidates. You can be surprised at who the best candidate turns out to be.


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