20 Types of Candidates You’ll Meet in the Hiring Process

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! You’re likely gearing up to hire for new roles, enlist candidates for your intern programs, attend recruiting events, or at the very least, start building your pipeline for Q1. This is hectic, exciting, and probably the reason why you’ve been stress eating holiday cookies.

First step: put down the plate of snickerdoodles. Secondly, relax! If you’re a recruiter, HR professional, or hiring manager, you’re likely used to meeting an eccentric array of characters.

We’ve compiled a list of candidates that you’ve met, or will meet, as you search for the perfect job-placements. Some will make you cringe, many will make you smile, and the majority will make you laugh — because you know that when it comes to hiring: it’s tiring but never, ever boring and of course, incredibly rewarding!

Here’s some of the characters you’ll recognize all too well:

The Overachieving Candidate


Not only are they dressed to impress, but they come equipped with letters of recommendations, a list of references, portfolio samples (if applicable), and copies of their resume. They also manage to clearly articulate their interest in the position and company with such a big smile on their face that you don’t know what impresses your more — the fact that they clearly spent so much time preparing, or that they can last 30-45 minutes without frowning or breaking eye contact.

The Unprepared Candidate


They show up to the interview in too-casual clothing, don’t bring an updated resume, and clearly, didn’t do their research on the company. If their attire and generic answers don’t tip you off, their blank stare to most of your questions will.

The Charismatic Candidate


This person is so charming you have to wonder how they haven’t been snatched up already! Okay, so hiring is obviously contingent on more than someone’s personality, but you know an influencer when you meet one, and you can tell this person is someone that radiates the kind of positive attitude and energy that’ll benefit everyone in your office.

The TMI Candidate


Within minutes of meeting, you learn that they’re so happy to meet with you, even though they’re treating a massive rash that they’re hiding under their suit. More awkward comments will ensue, making you so uncomfortable, you’ll be itching for the conversation to end.

The Humble Candidate


It’s a tricky balance most applicants have trouble mastering: being confident about their abilities, but modest about their long list of accomplishments. Luckily, this rockstar isn’t one to toot their own horn. They acknowledge their achievements, sure, but also recognize the challenges they’ve faced, and how they’ve overcame them. In other words, this is the kind of candidate you’ll want to hire in a heartbeat.

The Self-Promoting Candidate


This candidate wants you to believe that they’re the perfect fit, so they brag about the strengths they have and projects they’ve tackled independently, without acknowledging their weaknesses or ability to work well with others. Not the worst of the lot, but you can do better than bringing someone on who already thinks they’re the best.

The Comedic Candidate


Is it normal to laugh so hard your stomach cramps? Maybe if you’re streaming stand up on Netflix, but not so much if you’re trying gauge whether this person has a work ethic that’s as strong as their jokes, or acetates.

 The BS-ing Candidate


They crafted a killer cover letter and resume, and seem to be an ideal fit…until they’re sitting across from you, glossing over their “experience” and “qualifications.” A lot of what they say seems to be coming from the job description you posted, which is quite a coincidence, and almost as bad as supplying overly generic responses…

The Buzzword Abusing Candidate


The second they describe themselves as a “team player,” you know it’s a wrap. Unfortunately, they go on to insist that they’re a “detail-oriented go-getter”  that is known to “think outside the box,” with a “strong track record” in “proactively” getting things done. This is often the case with first time job-seekers and recent grads that don’t know how painful the words are for you to not only hear, but hurt to read on resumes. Speaking of…

The Multiple-Page Resume Candidate


Everyone knows that resumes should be kept to one page, but for those that don’t, they figure that the best way to show off all their experience is by putting all of it to paper…well, pages.

The Jack-Of-All-Trades Candidate


You know better than to ask inappropriate questions, but sometimes you have to stop yourself from blurting out, “Are you human?” When a candidate with a diverse skill set, leadership experience, a kick ass LinkedIn and website, respectable online presence…the list continues, and so does your admiration  — and wonder— at how such an awesome (and unemployed) candidate could exist.

The Desperate Candidate


Not only did they apply to every position in your company’s portal, but they’ve sent you messages on LinkedIn and all your social media accounts — detailing their excitement to be considered for candidacy, how their background lines up with your requirements, and again, did they mention just how eager they are to be hired for their dream job at this dream company? Yikes. Talk about overkill.

The Entrepreneurial Candidate


Ever interview someone that you’d almost wished would start their own company, just so you could work for them? That’s what happens when you come across this proactive do-er, who’s initiated clubs, events, projects, and more — demonstrating that they’ll benefit not only any team, but enhance your employer brand in some regard as well. Score!

The Chatterbox Candidate


Most interviews are conversational, and it’s up to you to steer that conversation. But this person doesn’t seem to come with an off-button (or realize that they’re making an awful first impression) and will ramble on and on — so much so that you won’t even be able to remember what question you asked them in the first place!

The Jittery Candidate


Everyone gets nervous before an interview (even you!), but there’s always that shaky, hand-twisting, stuttering-through-their-sentences person that makes you feel like you’re the one being evaluated based on what you say and do. Still, at the root of their nerves is desire — they obviously want this badly, so badly, that they can’t control their physical reactions.

The Bubbly Candidate


Whoa, if the energizer bunny existed in human form, it’d be this ray of sunshine! They seem genuinely happy to meet with you and chat about not only the role and company culture, but your own experience as well. It’ll feel like you’re catching up with a friend, which can be a plus or minus, depending on just how well they fit with what you’re looking for, and if their friendliness works in their favor, or distracts from their qualifications.

The Cocky Candidate


Confidence is an admirable trait, but too much of it, especially for a highly sought after position, is just a turn-off. Nevertheless, you’ll encounter that smug-faced applicant who acts as though they’ve already gotten the job offer: by asking for a tour of the office, dismissively answering your inquiries about their work history and capabilities, or not bothering to follow up with a necessary thank you note.

The Quirky Candidate


While somewhat rare, these candidates appear to be “like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get.” As in, they might quote movies, provide odd anecdotes, use a lot of hand gestures, and venture off topic a bit. But, they’re also authentic, engaging, and qualified to fulfill all the role’s requirements — and will definitely add some extra zest to the office, if your interview with them is any indication.

The Trash Talking Candidate


Everyone has probably worked at a job they hate, but every candidate should know better than to talk about those negative experiences with a potential employer. Unfortunately, some people don’t know how to address the conflicts they’ve managed at work; if anything, the way they complain about their old coworkers and boss demonstrates that they don’t really manage conflict well at all. Definitely not someone you’d be eager to invite into your company’s inclusive inner circle.

The Wildcard Candidate


They’re great on paper but a bit awkward in person. Or, they shine so bright in the interview that you wonder if it makes up for not having all the qualifications. There’s always that applicant that can go either waywhich will prompt you to keep them in your pipeline, move them to the next round of interviews, and maybe even take a risk and extend an offer.


What other types of candidates have you encountered? Share in the comments!


Want to target a demographic of total rockstar, diverse intern, entry-level, and mid-level talent? FindSpark is the number one community for connecting with diverse young professional talent. Check out our highly curated job boardour epic recruiting event Hustle Summit, and employer membership.


About the Author

Christina is a writer with a terrible coffee/book addiction.

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