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How to Hire an Exceptional Candidate


Bringing the best people on board is a monumental challenge for any leader, but it is also one of the most important skills needed for the job. Here are five key ingredients you need in an exceptional candidate.


How do you identify exceptionalism? People who are exceptional have a history of being outstanding. Look for signs of greatness. Exceptional candidates are usually noticed at a young age. They were captains of teams, won speech contests, or ran businesses while getting degrees. They were standouts. They have conquered the skills and passion to be great.  


Job-specific Motivation

Your exceptional candidate should be excited by the opportunity you can provide. Are they just looking for a job to pay the bills or a specific opportunity with your company? For a candidate to deliver exceptional performance  they need to feel that they will benefit from the job just as much as the company will from their performance. 


Cultural Alignment 

How can you tell whether an exceptional, motivated individual will work well within your company's culture? If you have a culture that appeals to exceptional people, that gives you the added benefit of being able to hire a wider array of  individuals who value creativity over status quo. A focus on performance over politics means employees will tolerate differences in personality and perspective.

It’s more important to identify cultural issues rather than to look for a candidate who fits a particular mold. Two issues to look at are the sizes of the companies the candidate has worked for in the past, and whether they have personal values that align with your organization.


Creative Initiative 

Creative initiative is the drive and ability to consistently think of ways to do a job better or contribute more to the organization's success. Avoid people who complain or say they were bored at their last job.



Understand the business value a candidate provides. After all, the main reason to hire someone is that he or she will produce more economic value for the company than they cost. You may not always have a choice to hire the best; it may come down to who is most affordable or who is available. Always look for talent and be sure to encourage development of skills, creative thinking, some degree of risk taking and job advancement.


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