Do Ideal Candidates Exist?

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 1191 , Published on 03 October 2014

Ideal candidate has been a buzz word in human resources field since past five to seven years. Every employer seeks to obtain a perfect fit for the desired role. Recruiters are hell bent on finding the ideal candidate profile for any critical role. But three questions are still unanswered in this rat race for an ideal candidate. One, who is an ideal candidate? Second, does an ideal candidate really exist? Third, will an ideal candidate really solve our purpose?

Let me start with the first question, companies need to define their own ideal candidate for a role. Ideal candidate is an applicant who matches all the criteria that are a perfect fit for a particular role. Consequently, we first have an ‘ideal candidate profile’ for a role that defines a desired level of achievement on all the criteria. Some examples of this can be: ‘five or more years of experience in managerial role in telecom sector’ or ‘high score on assertiveness in psychometric test’. Likewise we form a profile (or resume, in simple terms) that defines our perspective of an ideal candidate. Companies should strive hard to form and optimise their own ideal profile and not borrow it from any presently used or suggested model. Defining the profile needs additional bit of extra effort on research regarding what has been successful in the organizational context till now. This forms the base and provides the rationale for developing the profile parameters. Few parameters in the profile can be: Educational specialization, years of total experience, tenure in the present organization, time since last promotion, psychometric profile, age, gender, past 2-3 years performance, incentives earned, and future potential. The profile can include some or all parameters listed above. An ideal candidate is one who has the desired level of achievement on all the parameters of the profile.

Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos,net, sheelamohan

Now we come to our second question, does an ideal candidate really exist? If we believe in this concept, the rationale is that the ideal profile formed is based on the successful candidates till date in a role. The patterns of these previously successful employees in a role give us clarity and preciseness regarding what to look in the next fit for the role. Therefore, this profile will choose exactly what is best suited for the role and organization. The counterpoint to this argument is that that analysis performed by companies is based on past data. Organizations in today’s scenario change by the day, can we really rely upon past data analysis’ result to work perfectly for the coming future? Secondly, the parameters that we include to be a part of our profile are mostly quantitative, how do we measure the qualitative aspect of one’s profile or personality. Psychometric tools help only upto a certain extent to gain insight about one’s personality. We never have a full understanding of one’s aspirations, motivating factors and task drivers. This leads us to a half baked profile which does not tell us how well the person will fit into the organizational culture. All the other aspects being perfect, if the organizational culture does not fit with the candidate, our hiring decision can have counter effects.

In response to the third question, ideal candidate is a statistically proven perfect match for a role. Companies spend huge amount of time and resources to find such a talent, especially for leadership level or critical roles. This talent is scarce in the industry and to find one takes up huge amount of efforts on one’s part. Due to shortage of this talent, poaching is a very common phenomenon in the market. It might happen that the talent that we finally acquired after months of effort and deliberation could slip away in weeks. Recently companies have become cognizant of this fact that along with an ‘ideal candidate profile’ they should also have an ‘alternate candidate profile’. This alternate candidate profile has most of the factors common with an ideal candidate but varies in some of them. This variation is something different from our current understanding of a successful profile. It might open up a window to bring in a fresh perspective and unconventional ways to deal with uncertainty. Also this helps us in building a pipeline of resources for a critical role in case our ‘ideal’ one is missing.

This article has been authored by Shubhangi Shekhar from IMI Delhi


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