The ideal candidate for the position

The interview process can be daunting for even the most qualified candidates. Throughout the interview process, every interaction is part of the interview, ranging from the strength of your handshake to your social media presence. To gain perspective on the ideal candidate and how you rank, try putting yourself in the interviewer’s shoes for a minute.

What questions would you ask to find the ideal candidate who can come up to speed quickly, and who genuinely has something unique to offer?

An Exercise

Pull out a piece of paper, the notes app in your phone, or just make mental notes. Choose whatever method works for you, but I encourage you to play along.

Start making a list of all the professional areas and skills where you excel. Include both hard and soft skills on your list. Examples of both types of these skills include: PowerPoint, cost benefit analysis, writing, leadership, communication, empathy, and so on. Rank yourself on each item using a scale of one to 10 — with 10 being the best of the best, and one being the worst of the worst. Be completely honest.

Flip the paper over, start a new note in the same format of the previous exercise, and make a list of the professional areas where there’s some room for growth. Rank yourself on each item using a scale of one to 10. Be gentle on yourself. Again, I must emphasize, be honest.

Put it into perspective

Doing this exercise brings to light areas where you truly excel and set you apart from others. It also shines light on areas where you have room to grow and develop — which is a fantastic opportunity!

Reflect on any positive or ill feelings while completing the exercise. By realizing your thoughts or feelings during the task, you may notice where you have hesitation or lack of motivation around a skill.

Regarding your first list, are these areas clearly noted on your resume or cover letter? If not, they should be. Based on your second list (room for growth), circle the three items with the lowest scores. Would you hire you based on how you ranked yourself? Are you authentic with these areas in your job? Be honest. If you feel up to it, repeat this exercise with areas in your personal life. Don’t be surprised if there’s an overlap on both lists.

Would you hire you?

Personally and professionally, I believe there’s always room for improvement. At times, improvement may not seem plausible or achievable because growth takes effort and can be overwhelming. In order to grow and create the person we want to be, we must seek it out. This may include asking for candid feedback from those close to you, or reflecting on your last performance review. Change isn’t easy, but it’s certainly an opportunity to create.

Next steps

Working with your end goal in mind, imagine it’s six months or a year into the future. What are your goal rankings of each of your lists? Based on the new and improved scores, would you hire you with these new scores? Knowing there’s some room for growth for some of your listed items, what’s a reasonable new score? Ask yourself, what’s the amount of effort you’re willing to put into this goal? The more important the goal, the more action you’ll be willing to take.

Keeping the end goal in mind (new score), what’s one thing you can do this week to move you in that direction? It may be hiring a coach, reading self growth material, checking in with colleagues or your spouse, taking a workshop, etc. Regardless of what that one thing may be, take the step. You won’t regret it.

Photo Credit: Tim Gouw,