Constructs of an ideal candidate

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India is rolling out tech startups by the hour. Tech companies these days are so focused on getting the right technical match, that they miss out evaluating the candidates on behavioral aspects. It is not entirely their fault. The pressure of getting positions filled up is so high that they stop at a technical match.  That’s why, the tech world is suffering from the “bad hire” syndrome! And every bad hire comes at a cost. Needless to mention, it is very important to analyze the candidate, behaviorally.

Let’s face it, no one is perfect! But what are the acceptable flaws? Depends on various factors – interviewer background and focus, the type of job, the hiring organization’s culture, job fit and so on.

If you ask me, there are certain attributes that I look for in an interview candidate and have listed them below, in no particular order:


Some candidates are super smart, others are average and then there are the below “averagers”. Would I hire someone who is a super smart, perfect for the job, but has a bad attitude. No way! An average person with a terrific attitude can always be trained, helped, nurtured and brought up to speed. But a super smart person, who thinks too highly of herself and lowly of others, brings negativity in the organization. And – the last thing you want for your existing employees – someone constantly making them feel inferior.

Cultural fit

There is no point hiring someone whose belief system and behavior are not compatible with the organizational culture. An organization that thrives on openness may not suit someone who is an introvert. An employee who likes being told what to do will not fare well in an organization that stresses on employee empowerment and taking initiatives. The employment might last for a while, but the employer and the employee both are not happy. Not a very healthy relationship to be in, isn’t it?


Not talking about candidates who are foodies of course ☺ . I like candidates who show hunger – to learn and prove themselves. Say, I ask a puzzle, and the candidate is not able to solve it. Some just give up within a few minutes. And there are others who just don’t quit! Who do you think will last during tough times and swim against the current? Another trick I use is, I subtly convey the candidate that she may not be a great fit for the job. Many fold and give up, but there are others who ask “why” and fight it out to convince how good fit they are for the job. Hesitation, body language or missing the eye contact when asked about something demanding, such as long working hours (I ask this even if there is no such requirement  ☺ ), raises flags for me on the hunger levels of a candidate.

Common sense

Common sense is no longer common, true story!

Once I asked a development intern, if he were given the responsibility to organize a party at office, how would he go about it? He told me he would send out emails to everyone with the time and venue details. And that was the end of his planning! What can one expect from such a candidate? How would he ever understand complex workflows in product development? I just lost interest in the candidate from that point and matter how nicely he answered the rest if the questions, I just couldn’t convince myself to hire him.


I have always worked for small and medium sized companies/startups. And I understand resource crunch to the core. I like people who roll up their sleeves and plunge into the issue on hand, rather than analyzing if it is a part of their so called “job responsibility”. Your office is your second home, and we all spend more time (awake) at the office than at home! At home, no chore is big or small. Then why should it be any different at the office?


Don’t get me wrong. When I say looks, I do not mean the candidate’s hairdo, pretty face or fashion sense. It’s called an “interview” because they call you “in to view”. Candidates who are happy and carry a smile on their faces during the interview, tell a lot about their positivity. To me, grumpy or stressed faces convey that either the candidate is not able to cope up under pressure or she is just a miserable girl whom I wouldn’t really want on my floor •

So, there you have it, my list of qualities for my kind of candidates!

Please feel free to comment. Would love to know what qualities you look for in your ideal candidate.

By: Luna Dubey

Also published on Medium.