Do you know how to spot a star candidate?

June 12, 2018

You’ve decided to hire a new member of staff, and you want to make sure they’re a great fit for your team as well as being highly qualified for the role. You’ve put together the job spec, prepared the competency-based questions and arranged interviews with a range of promising candidates. But once the candidates arrive, are you confident you know what to look for?


At Time Recruitment, we work with fantastic new candidates every day. Here are our top tips for spotting a star in the making:


1) First impressions count. Is the candidate well presented, and have they dressed appropriately for the interview? Some offices are smart casual, while others expect full business attire (especially at the interview stage!). Has the candidate judged this correctly? Do they look comfortable in this setting? Can you envisage introducing this person to an important client or a senior colleague?

2) Body language can speak louder than words. A firm, forthcoming handshake and plenty of eye contact shows that a candidate is positive, confident and making a real effort to connect with you. Open, engaging body language can quickly give you an insight into a candidate’s overall people skills, and an indication of how well they will fit in with your existing team.

3) Looking good on paper. The format and presentation of a candidate’s CV can be just as important as the qualifications and work experience it describes. Is the information laid out clearly and logically? Have they provided all the details you are looking for? Have they taken the time to check for spelling and punctuation errors, dates that don’t add up, or inconsistent formatting? Their CV is one of the first measures you’ll get of their diligence and attention to detail, so make the most of the clues it contains.

4) What’s their story? Not everyone has a straightforward career history. Some people take circuitous routes and unusual side-steps rather than progressing in a constant trajectory. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it can show they are willing to examine their decisions and change course when required, and that they are able to adapt and learn as they go. How does the candidate tell the story of their education and career history? What have they learned from any detours they’ve taken, and what advantages might this have given them?

5) When the going gets tough… It doesn’t always matter if a candidate doesn’t have the perfect answer ready for every interview question, or if they struggle momentarily to put something into words – the important thing is how well they handle the pressure if they run into a problem. Do they panic and freeze up, or do they react with good humour and a valiant second attempt? This can tell you a lot about how they will cope when they’re faced with the actual challenges of the job.

6) Knowledge is power! What do they know about your company? Have they taken the time to do some research before meeting you? Giving candidates a chance to demonstrate their knowledge allows them to show that they care about the role on offer, have a genuine interest in working with you, and have put the time into preparing thoroughly for the interview.

7) Curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat… Ask the candidate if there’s anything they want to ask you. Are they curious about your office culture, the structure of the company, or the potential for progression? This will help you to gauge not only how well prepared they are for the interview, but also whether they can really see themselves working for your company, both in the short term and for the longer haul.


When it comes to recruiting the right member of staff for your company, it may seem like there’s a lot to remember – but thankfully when you work with Time, you don’t have to go it alone. We carry out in-depth research to find the most suitable candidates for each role, so we will already have sense-checked all of these points before you so much as review a CV. This saves you time, effort and the tricky business of making such an important decision under pressure.


Please get in touch at to discuss how we can help you to find your next star employee.


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