What was your most memorable hire and why? For Bill Coder, it was Tyler Weaver, the U.S. Army soldier turned software engineer. This talented professional served in Afghanistan and stood out to Coder as outlined in Christina Kent’s LinkedIn article titled: My Most Memorable Hire: The Afghanistan Soldier Turned Computer Engineer.
Coder is a recruiting manager for LGS Innovations, a Colorado hardware and software maker.
“Tyler’s profile stood out immediately – he had a 4.0 GPA,” Coder stated in the article. “He was also a local from Colorado, so the match made sense.”
There other attributes too: Weaver was about to complete his college degree at DeVry University and his military training and personality stood out immediately during interviews.
“Even while Tyler was on the ground in Afghanistan, I was impressed that he was so interested in talking about his career plans,” Coder said in the article.
It was a perfect match and Weaver earned an entry-level job with the company while Coder found a candidate he won’t likely ever forget.
This was definitely a memorable candidate moment.
There are certainly candidates who stand out for the wrong reason, says HR consultant Arlene Vernon, President of HRx and a speaker and small business advisor on all things human resources. For example, over the years Vernon has encountered these oddball interview and recruiting scenarios:
- Someone who showed up with rollers in her hair
- Someone who brought their spouse to the interview
- Someone who told Vernon they really didn’t like working in the area that they were interviewing for
- Someone who kept changing the conversation back to the illness she was recovering from
- Someone who showed up a couple of hours late for the interview and thought I should still meet with them.
“These are the candidates whose interview you politely cut short,” says Vernon.
But for every recruiter horror story, there are situations like Coder’s and Weavers that are just a fit. It’s something every recruiter strives for. Sometimes, that most memorable candidate isn’t the one with the unique story – it’s just the person who fits the job criteria the best.
“For me the most memorable candidates were those amazing candidates that just mirror the job opening criteria and nail the interview,” says Vernon. “They’re comfortable talking about their skills, experience and capabilities. They’re not cocky about it, they just know themselves and what they can do. Not only can they answer the technical questions of the job, but they also have stories and examples to back up the stories and their knowledge. They can tell you how they implemented the program, what new ideas they had the worked, how they solved the problem and how it applies to your opening.”
Sometimes it’s the small things that stand out. Theresa Smith was a Twin Cities department manager who wasn’t well-versed in hiring, she was an editor after all and was more adept at writing and editing than deciding who to hire. But this was crucial for her, as she was going to lead this person and work directly – and very closely with this person. So when she had to decide between two equally qualified candidates she eventually hired the one who sent the hand-written thank you note.
“I thought that person put in the extra effort and that was what stood out to me,” said Smith. “That was made my final decision for me. I still remember that to this day.”
Chris Gardner, Principal and Executive Recruiter of Columbus, Ohio-based Artemis Consultants, estimates he does 99 percent of his recruiting by phone, with email providing content and comment in-between conversations.
His most memorable candidates stand out immediately if they have superior communication skills, says Gardner.
“If it’s my first time talking with a candidate, the first test is how open minded/receptive they are to my call,” says Gardner.
If a candidate hijacks the conversation, that’s Gardner’s first reservation.
“If our dialogue turns into them selling me, I immediately become concerned I just contacted someone that is actively looking,” says Gardner. “Most often, there is a good reason for that. Our clients desire candidates who are not necessarily looking, but willing to be found for the right opportunity. That means we need to court them, not the other way around.”
If the candidate interrupts a lot, that’s Gardner’s second reservation.
“I’ve never met a professional who is considered an industry leader that isn’t an attentive listener and asks good questions,” says Gardner.
If they use curse words, use “like” as often as Gardner’s teenage daughter, or misuse phrases or words, that’s the third reservation says Gardner, restating his first requirement: “Hiring managers demand superior communication skills,” he says.
“I don’t necessarily subscribe to three strikes you’re out, but when your primary interaction with working professionals who are considered leaders in their respective industries, is via phone and email, communication skills account for 75 percent of my candidate grade.”
If candidates want to stand out: Be open minded, listen, and be an effective communicator.
If they want to be memorable, they may not need to be a returning Army veteran who stands out because of superior leadership and communication skills like Coder found. In some cases, the best candidates are hiding in plain sight.
The most memorable candidates? They will simply stand out. There’s no doubt about that.
“These are the candidates that you hire quickly to make sure the competition doesn’t get them first,” says Vernon.
What are your most memorable candidate moments and why?