Finding The Best Job Candidate: Habits To Look For

One of the biggest challenges recruiters face is sourcing the best and most suitable applicants for a job. Each company is looking for a job candidate who will be a good and long-term hire. That’s easier said than done.

Recruiters must stay up-to-date with the latest trends in their industry. Those are the keys to understanding the demands of the workforce. Some of those trends include:

  • Knowing millennials and their needs
  • Coaching candidates
  • Incorporating digital media
  • Understanding company cultures
  • Valuing diversity programs in companies.

It is common for high-quality job applicants to have several offers worth considering. They position themselves to get a job that will advance their career. Thus, the recruiter needs to connect with them and show them the right company to work for.

Unfortunately, the top candidates aren’t readily available. Economists believe the U.S economy will experience labor shortages in the coming years. That means recruiters must try new ways of finding the best employees. There are several ways to do that:

  • Using social media recruitment
  • Leaving job boards which have average candidates
  • Streamline the application process
  • Maintain a relationship with a potential job candidate
  • Sell a job opportunity

These tools are not enough. The stack of emails, resumes, and job applications overwhelm recruiters. They need a better and faster way of finding high-quality applicants.

One way to do that is by identifying the habits of the best candidates. Read on to learn more.

Habits of the Best Job Candidate

Each candidate has several traits and habits that determine whether they are suitable for a job. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a habit as “something that you do often and regularly, sometimes without knowing that you are doing it”.

Interviews are difficult to conduct nowadays because many applicants memorize the questions and prepare generic answers beforehand. Recruiters should try a different approach to the usual interview questions. This helps to simplify the search because you concentrate on the important questions.

Focusing on habits is a different approach as well.

There are habits that are common among the job applicants you interview daily. You will notice that the best ones do the same things every day. This knowledge will help you narrow the top job candidate faster.

Here are the habits to look for:


An organized job candidate is halfway to becoming a great employee. Companies want people who will stay for many years. Having a high turnover of employees costs a lot of money.

You can spot this habit from the moment you get a candidate’s application. Is it sloppy? Does it have typos? Does the candidate have a good understanding of English and grammar usage? Is the formatting of the resume and cover letter consistent? Are the dates accurate?

The next step is the interview. An organized applicant will dress appropriately. Since the office is a shared workspace, the candidate must have proper personal hygiene. They will also arrive early since they are great at managing their time.

When asking questions, you can find out whether the candidate is organized. Ask about their job search and you will know if they had a plan. Did they outline the tasks necessary to succeed in their search? Did they organize these tasks in a spreadsheet and check them off once they were complete?

Find out if they set time limits for their searches. Check if they made time to follow up with recruiters. The documents they present in the interview will also be stored properly and will be relevant to the employer.

Being organized means a job applicant can be trusted to plan their work and accomplish it every day. This is crucial for every employer.

Great Listener

Peter Drucker, management consultant and author, once wrote, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

The best job candidates are great listeners. They try to understand the goal of the communication. That means the boss doesn’t need to keep repeating instructions.

Conflicts occur in the office all the time. There is bound to be tension in a shared workplace. As is often the case, most of these conflicts are due to a misunderstanding. The solution is for people to listen better.

A job candidate who is an active listener can fit into these diverse interpersonal relationships. They can diffuse tension by being empathetic. They are also able to give better feedback because they understand the requirements.

Great listeners do not take offense when they receive constructive criticism. They see it as an opportunity for self-improvement. These employees settle well in any work environment.

In an interview setting, you can gauge an applicant’s listening skills by how they ask or respond to questions. In-depth answers mean they were paying attention to the question. They should not ask simple questions. If they fail to ask follow-up questions, it means they are not seeking to understand your answers.


Recruiters must look for applicants who take action every day. Some employees are content to sit around all day doing minimal tasks. A proactive job candidate will seek work opportunities.

These types of applicants will prioritize tasks and remain focused until completion. They don’t need any supervision because they will finish the required work and hand it in on time.

Being proactive requires self-discipline. The job candidate has to anticipate problems and be ready to solve them when they arise. That requires self-motivation to accomplish each task.

An employee who has this habit also inspires other employees to do more. It creates an active environment and employees can complete more work. Every top department will have proactive workers.

This impact shows that these kinds of candidates have a good work ethic. Success follows a positive attitude. Recruiters will know whether an applicant can thrive in a company. The goal is to find the best job candidate, not someone with a bad work ethic.

Creative and Innovative

Everyone should use their creativity to make a difference each day. Creativity is about coming up with new ideas on a consistent basis. Innovation is about using ideas to make measurable changes in the way things are done.

Any applicant who displays this ability to create and innovate daily should be at the top of the recruitment list. Companies need innovation to survive. Look at the thousands of successful businesses and you will see that they are doing new things all the time.

Companies that don’t encourage innovation among employees will not have a future. There have to be new projects, new sales ideas, new marketing tools, and new products. Failure to do this and competitors will surpass them.

Personal Development Goals

A top job candidate is someone who sets about achieving personal development goals daily. Recruiters tend to focus on work suitability and neglect these personal habits. What an applicant does in their personal lives is a mirror into how they will do their job.

Candidates want to be the best in everything, not just their job. Thus, they will eat healthily, sleep well, and make time for exercise. These habits prime their bodies for peak performance.

Great employees know they need energy throughout the day. All meals are planned to give them the nutrients they need. That’s how they eat a healthy balanced diet. They also remember to stay hydrated.

The quality of sleep affects our mind, our mood, and our health. High achievers follow their sleep schedule because it will affect how they perform the next day. No one wants to be groggy and tired when you have deadlines at work.

Lack of enough sleep can lead to depression. With the amount of stress and anxiety in the workplace, there is no need to add a mental health problem to the mix. Depression affects interpersonal relationships and self-esteem. These are crucial to succeed at work.

Recruiters should also look for a job candidate who exercises. Going to the gym religiously is not an easy feat for most people. This shows that an applicant who works out has self-discipline and takes initiative. They are also trying to improve themselves.

Meditation is another habit to ask a candidate about. Those who meditate experience many mental benefits. It reduces stress, boosts happiness, increases self-awareness, and improves concentration. This will be a great employee to have in the office.


Fear limits a person’s potential for greatness. People become afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of their colleagues. They avoid taking risks or sharing innovative ideas because they are afraid of failure.

The best job candidate develops their resilience each day. They are willing to be vulnerable and make mistakes. That’s how they build deep relationships and make breakthroughs at work.

Everyone who has a job knows there are good days and some tough days. Recruiters should spot the applicants who are persistent and can weather those bad experiences. The right candidate should be able to push through until they succeed. If they succeed, the company will succeed.

Share Information with Recruiters

As you can see, spotting these habits helps to pick out the best candidates for the available jobs. Many applicants will have the technical skills for the job. The secret to finding the best employee is by finding out what they do on a daily basis.

There’s a quote that says, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Checking habits are the key to finding top employees.

Recruiters make a big difference in an applicant’s search for a better job. They know the job market and they have important connections. They save time in a job search and help the applicant to polish the resume.

With these qualities, they deserve to know how to source high-quality candidates for specific jobs. The information above will help to save time in job recruitment.