SmartRecruiters Blog

3 Rules for Recruiting Exceptional Candidates

It’s a principle underpinning every world-class class business across the globe: to be outstanding, you need outstanding people.

When asked what’s his the secret of his success, Steve Jobs answered, “We have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” When talking about his phenomenal business achievements, Bill Gates said, “The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people.” When asked about his keys to success, Richard Branson said, “Take the best. Leave the rest.”

It’s a principle underpinning every world-class class business across the globe: to be outstanding, you need outstanding people. But as every recruiter knows, hiring exceptional talent isn’t quick or easy. To win the best talent for your business, your hiring process needs to be flawless, fresh and forward-thinking.

So, how should you use the hiring process to secure exceptional candidates?

1. Be Creative

In a competitive job market, merely posting a vacancy on a job board isn’t going to draw in the most sought after talent. The most successful recruitment campaigns are the ones that think outside the box.

Rather than listing the responsibilities of a job role, your career page can showcase video to show candidates a sneak preview of a day in the office? Or can you create a job posting that acts as a puzzle that has to be solved before candidates can get in touch? How about a social media competition that only interviews the candidates who come up with the best solution to a problem?

Ikea Australia, for example, hid secret career instructions inside each flat-pack product they sold. When customers opened their new products, they found a quirky surprise in the form of instructions on how to “assemble a future” with Ikea. The campaign cost next to nothing but attracted 4285 applications and resulted in 280 additional hires. Genius.

What Ikea understood is that you can’t expect exciting people to respond to a boring hiring process. If you create a buzz around a job, you’ll grab the attention of the most attractive candidates, as well as driving interest in the brand and standing out against competitors.

2. Be the Brand Personified

Brand is everything. It’s one of your most valuable assets and one of the main pulling powers that will entice top candidates.

Let’s look at the US dollar, for example. It’s just branded paper. And yet these pieces of branded paper confer a uniform value that is trusted across the globe. The only thing making it worth anything is the consumer trust in the brand.

You need to think about this in the hiring process. 51% of businesses don’t have clear employment branding messages. They forget that branding encompasses everything that the company says, does, sends and touches, from the job vacancies posted to the interview questions posed.

It’s simple: you need to live up to the brand when hiring to entice attractive talent. Be clear on who you are, consistent with regards to the brand message, and most importantly, be personally representative of the brand values.

3. Be a Cultural Hirer

Giants like Apple, Virgin and Zappos all hire based on personality. The benefits of this are proven. Did you know, for example, that half of all new hires who fail within 18 months do so based on their attitude rather than on lack of skill? Or that cultural fit accounts for almost half the variance between employees in job satisfaction?

Cultural fit, clearly, is vital for company success as well as employee well-being. In the hiring process, you need to keep your company culture at the forefront of everything you do. Experience and skills can be learnt; culture cannot. Think of hiring great talent as a work marriage. You want a partner who is fully behind the vision, who shares similar values and wants to align their personal growth with the growth of the company.

Make sure that your job listing clearly outlines the employee culture that you’re looking for. It’s a great opportunity to describe your values and the values you prize in candidates, helping attract people with genuine interest rather than people only looking to gain a title.

In the interview process, ask questions based on personality. It’s a good idea to interview with the hiring manager and the HR manager present to ensure that both skills and attitude are a strong company fit. Remember, brilliant minds are drawn to brilliant things. If you can demonstrate a strong company culture and a passion for hiring dynamic cultural matches, you’ll attract top talent.


Abercrombie RecruitmentRoxanne Abercrombie is a professional copywriter and serial blogger. She works as PR, Content and Social Executive for Uniting Ambition, a specialist company that provides recruitment and talent management services to businesses at varying stages of growth, from start-up and medium sized enterprises through to global brands.

Roxanne Abercrombie