11 Tips on How to Discover High-Potential Candidates

Categories: Advice for HR Professionals, Recruitment Advice, Trends and Learning

Today’s business market is so challenging that companies struggle to find high-potential candidates to work for them. The people with the relevant skills and right experience are hard to detect in a crowd of many, and the entire competition of a brand attempts to get them on their side. 

According to research, 91% of employers struggle to find candidates with the right set of skills or experience. Despite the many applications for job positions today, hiring the right person for the job can be really challenging. 

If you are one of those brands, there’s one thing that you should understand – finding the ‘perfect’ candidate is often something impossible. This is why smart companies make up for the employment gap by hiring for potential instead of skills

What does this mean?

It means that you will detect the high-potential candidates, train them, and turn them into high-performing employees that work for your business. 

Still, this begs the question – how do you discover high-potential candidates in the first place?

In this article, you’ll learn some great tips on finding the candidates with the most potential to become great for your business. 

1. Use an applicant tracking system

Deciding what job candidate has the most potential to become great is a big responsibility. If you have many applicants to consider, this can become impossible. That’s why the smartest option when choosing new employees is to use automated tracking systems

Tracking systems like Recruitee, a trending tool, will allow you to consider all the candidates thoroughly, eliminate any form of bias, and detect the true gems in the crowd.


In addition to helping you find the candidates that possess the qualities you are looking for, Recruitee can also automate the hiring process, schedule your interviews, and make sure that you get more applicants for the positions you are offering. 

2. Let your instincts guide you

Since you aren’t looking for candidates that have all the skills and qualifications for the job at the moment, you should base these decisions on the data you have, but also on your instincts. Once you narrow down the choices to a few potential candidates, call them for an interview. 

During that interview, make sure to get to know that person. Building a connection with your new employee will help you be an effective leader, as well as allow you to shape them into the team members you want them to be. 

Instead of focusing on the job tasks solely, make your interviews conversational. The idea is to learn whether or not the candidate is willing to improve and adjust to the requirements of the business, as well as grow professionally to become the employee you are looking for. 

3. Look for cultural fits

The person that will work in your company will join your existing team. They’ll need to adjust to the company culture. Since you are getting to know the candidates, why not check if they will fit into the workplace?

Focus on determining if the potential employees can manage the work schedule you have for them. See if they understand how your company works and can work well in a team. Some skills and responsibilities can be taught, but if the person cannot fit into the company as it is, they cannot learn in it. 

4. Meet them in an informal setting

Interviews can be really stressful. Unless the candidate knows how to cope with this stress, they won’t act natural while you’re interviewing them. To release the tension and really get to know them, take them out of the office for a conversation, not an interview. 

Meeting outside will also be safer during the pandemic, and is a great way to meet remote workers that won’t have to come to the office to work every day.

When you meet these people in an informal setting, you can get to know them better. You can learn about their hard and soft skills, see if they are willing to learn, and learn if they are really motivated to work at your company.


5. Give them an actual opportunity

Instead of giving potential employees a list of things they’ll need to do once they work with you or asking them: “would you be able to do this”,  allow them to try it. High-potential candidates will do their best to meet your expectations, and you can see which one of them has the best chance of becoming your ‘perfect employee’.  

Of course, you shouldn’t ask these people to work for free or spend a fortune on testing dozens of candidates so that you can evaluate their progress. The idea is to find a few favorite candidates and pay them to complete a task. 

Based on how expensive it can be to hire new employees over and over again, these costs are insignificant and definitely worth it.


6. Don’t just look at the resume

Resumes are a great way to determine the qualifications of candidates and learn about their experience. But, they don’t teach us who the candidate is, what soft and hard skills they possess, and how they’ll fit in the workplace. 

Very often, resumes are tossed aside just because they don’t look attractive enough or because the recruiter is too busy to look closer. Especially in places with strange recruitment laws. Some of the best candidates and those with the highest potential are rejected based on how their resume looks. This is why you should look past the resume to find the high-potential worker. 

Yes, the resume is a great guide and will tell you what type of questions you should ask. If you see an experience in a resume, you can ask more detailed questions about what they accomplished, not just what they participated in.

Questions like: “what role did you have in the team” and “how did you collaborate with others” can tell you a lot about a person and how they work in a team. Knowing this, you should base your hiring decisions on resumes only partially. The biggest part of your decision should be based on the interview and the answers you get. 

7. Do some case study interviews

References and good resumes can make you feel more confident about hiring an employee. But, these don’t provide you with a guarantee that the person will be a good fit for your company. In fact, some will argue that the perfect employees will be showered with benefits at the companies they work at, so they have no reason to leave and look for work elsewhere. 

If you want to find a high-potential employee, you might consider case study interviews. Such interviews will give you a more realistic image of the level of expertise, communication skills, and other important skills that candidates possess. You can learn more about case study interview questions here. 

8. Do some behavioral assessments

Assessments of behaviors are an inexpensive, simple way to see if the candidate will be successful in the role you give them. Reference checks and resumes are only the beginning, and these can tell you about the skills that the candidate will bring. Behavioral assessments, on the other hand, will provide you with information on the soft skills that the candidate possesses. These are very important for employees that need to learn and get better at what they do.

9. Look for open-minded candidates

During the interview and once you meet the candidates, try to figure out how they respond to feedback and changes. The idea is to choose a person that is willing to accept negative feedback as well as positive and is willing to learn and improve. 

If the candidates you are interviewing have experience but are unwilling to admit when they’re wrong, these are not high-potential candidates for your company. Look for more open-minded people, even if they have less experience. 

10. Don’t skip any part of the interview process

The interview process is detailed for a reason – it helps us obtain tons of information to make good decisions. Trust the process. Include reference checks, talent assessments, use tools to evaluate the candidates, include panel and case study interviews, and even trial work for the best candidates. This is all part of the onboarding process, and onboarding is key to success for a new team member. 

11. Use progressively difficult questions

You’ve done your best to make the interview more comfortable for the candidate, you’ve incorporated modern marketing skills to attract them,  but that doesn’t mean that you should only ask them ‘easy questions’. The idea isn’t just to tell the employee what they will need to do for you or ask them what their qualifications are. 

If you have the chance, provide the candidate with an example of a real problem, introduce some constraints such as dates, resources, risks, and budgets, and see how their thought process works. This will only be hypothetical, of course, but it will tell you whether or not the candidate has the potential to resolve issues fast in your company.

Are you ready to find great candidates for the job?

Instead of waiting for the perfect candidate that might never come your way, why not create one for yourself? Take your time, consider your options, and find the people that have the best potential to become a great part of your team. With a bit of investment and some time, you can form a great team in no time!

Nadica Metuleva
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