Effective Tips on Hiring High-Potential Candidates

by Angela Griffiths

Searching for a potential candidate with the right skills and experience is one of the biggest challenges in HR. This is especially true for critical positions. That’s because hiring the wrong candidate for this kind of position can be very expensive for the company. You must keep in mind that vacant positions can’t be empty for a long period.

It doesn’t matter if you’re hiring internally or looking for new candidates. You need to determine competent individuals who can help the company achieve its objectives in the long term. Continue reading to know some tips on how to hire a potential candidate.

What a Potential Candidate Is

For a company to succeed in the future, it needs to know, develop, and retain high-potential people. Being objective is needed in doing this. The recruitment team must also refrain from personal opinions and preferences by understanding the main attributes they look for in a potential candidate.

A high potential candidate is defined as someone who is inspired, skilled, and engaged enough to work hard and succeed in higher positions. They can contribute a lot to the company’s success. Their rational and emotional experience, drive to succeed, commitment, growth attitude, and skills are above part.

Traits of High-Potential Candidates

Controlling Behavior

Behavior is often associated with the intelligence or emotions of a potential candidate. A question you can ask is how this candidate manages their and other people’s emotions especially when they’re subjected to a lot of pressure. The candidate should work well with their teammates to achieve the company’s goals. Knowing how to handle different behaviors is a very important characteristic of a potential candidate, especially in charged situations.

Having Abilities

potential candidate

A potential candidate must show that they can work without the need to be supervised and can consistently provide results. One way a candidate has this is if they’ve worked in committees. If you can understand that they can give solutions without the need to ask them, this candidate is likely capable.

Being Adaptable

Circumstances in a company are never the same. So, if there’s a change in the business dynamics, a potential candidate should show that they can adapt easily and fast. Also, they need to have the skill to calmly help their colleagues going through these changes.


Potential candidates show that they want to grow by being open to more responsibilities. Whenever they commit a mistake, they take responsibility for their decision. Not only do they have much drive to develop and give great results to themselves but also to their colleagues. They show passion to achieve the goals and objectives of the company.


A very good indicator of a leader is showing that they can strategically think and lead small teams at the same time. That’s why a potential candidate is someone who can move fast, solve disputes, motivate others, and organize things. They also respect and understand the importance of being an effective leader and try their best to be one.


Another crucial trait of a potential candidate is the ability to interact with people. They should know how to professionally handle different personalities in the company. They’re usually extroverts who are very much social and warm to others. But this doesn’t mean that other personality types won’t be effective.

How to Attract High-Potential Candidates

Employee Referral Program

It’s interesting to know that more than half of the people getting hired come from employee referrals but only comprise 7% of the applicants. Although there are only a few candidates referred by other employees, they have better chances of getting hired compared to those who randomly apply. An employee works in attracting high-potential candidates because employees understand the needed skills and experience from the candidates that recruiters are looking for.

Employees who were referred have better chances of working longer for the company than others. One possible reason for this is the connection between the referrer and the company.

Social Media

Social media platforms can give you access to a lot of potential candidates. You can be connected to active and passive job hopefuls. One thing you must remember is to consider the social media platform where you’ll try to find a potential candidate.

One good platform to connect to active job hopefuls is LinkedIn. Many job seekers join LinkedIn to connect and look for a job. That’s why this is a great way for your company to find applicants with potential.

Great Compensation and Benefits

The best candidates know that their skills will benefit companies. That’s why it will be challenging for you to attract high-potential candidates if your company’s not willing to offer great compensation and benefits.

The first thing you need to understand is that you offer competitive compensation and benefits packages that are comparable to your industry, candidate’s background, and location. Examples of attractive benefits you can offer are flexible work schedules, free lunch, performance bonuses, and health insurance.

New Technologies

If your company is using outdated equipment and technologies, high-potential candidates won’t be interested to apply. This is because they want to make the most out of their skills by using new technologies. It’s best to invest in the latest devices, apps, and tools. Not only will this attract strong candidates but also help your employees to be more productive and engaged.

Online Marketing

Learning new skills and knowledge always interests many candidates. Until now, they search relevant online sources to discover more about the industry they’re interested to work with and their line of work. So, you need to keep a solid presence online to pique potential candidates’ interest.

You can do this by regularly updating your company blog and getting content from partner websites. You have better chances of finding potential applicants when you publish quality content about your company.

Outdoing Your Competitors

High-potential candidates want to work with the best companies. According to Harvard Business Review, one simple explanation why many people apply to Google every year is because they have the idea that it outperforms its competition by expanding into different fields. So, they believe it’s one of the best places to work. Put simply, the company must perform well to attract the best candidates.

Not Geographically Limiting Candidates

Before, most companies didn’t consider hiring candidates from other countries. Now, due to technology, it’s easier to work with skilled people even if they live abroad. You’re reducing the possibility of having great candidates possibly working for your company if you only consider candidates who are located near your office.

When you accept talented candidates from other countries in your company, you can let them work remotely. According to studies, people who work remotely are more effective and happier compared to those who work in the office.

Opportunities for Professional Development

Many potential candidates give much importance to developing themselves professionally. 60% of millennials prefer to work for a company that offers opportunities for professional development over a company that provides pay raises regularly. But one study reported that only 25% of employees mentioned that their company offers this kind of opportunity.

That’s why it’s recommended to give your company an edge by prioritizing professional development. From time to time, you can have experts come into your office to provide insightful seminars. You can offer coaching and training sessions. Encouraging employees to attend if there’s a conference, seminar, or symposium held near your office’s vicinity can also help to convince strong potential candidates to pursue their application. Talented individuals want to develop themselves, so they need to see that your company can give them that.

How to Identify High-Potential Candidates

Analyzing CV

A high-potential candidate with a strong potential in leadership has a concise and well-presented CV which can have 2 to 3 pages maximum. Their CV also concentrates on business. Aside from highlighting their roles and responsibilities, their CV also shows the big achievements they’ve obtained in their profession and the amount of contribution they’ve provided to businesses.

Having a Long Hiring Process

You need to give much effort and time so that you can determine high-potential candidates. You’ll not likely succeed in figuring out who the ideal candidates are if your recruitment process is not comprehensive.

You must be ready in checking their experiences thoroughly and understand things that the candidate is not expressing. Having good recruitment can do a lot in hiring the best candidates since they can understand exactly the qualities needed for a position and the aspects required for a company to grow.

Asking Difficult Questions

You must ask tough questions so that you’ll know if you have an excellent candidate. Your goal in asking questions is not only to understand what the applicant answers but also to assess how they’ll act in difficult situations.

High-potential candidates might not provide the ideal answer. But you can evaluate how they deal with the issue and redeem themselves. These are critical across all businesses.

Asking Situation-Based Questions

Aside from asking difficult questions during the interview, you can also determine more easily if a candidate has potential by asking situation-based questions. Their answers will give you an understanding of how they think practically. You can decide if this kind of person is needed by your company through the given answers.

It’s highly recommended not to get someone if you see that this person can’t provide something special to the company. Instead, you get someone who you know will make the most out of all the resources available to them.

What you can realize with high-potential candidates is that they have a steady progression in their careers. People don’t suddenly realize that they want to improve themselves. One important aspect to check if a candidate is high-potential or not is by having a steady upward movement in their career.

Most applicants have likely committed one mistake in their career. But if you see they’ve changed jobs many times, it’s typically considered a red flag. When people make a mistake in their workplace, they tend to accept something they weren’t expecting. What makes a high-potential employee different from other employees is that they accept that they make mistakes although it’s something they wished they could’ve avoided.

Questions You Can Ask High-Potential Candidates

It’s challenging to know a candidate through interviews and documents presented. But, by asking the right questions, you can better understand who among them is worth training and adding to your workforce.

These questions focus on the candidate’s ability to succeed:

  • Are you better now than how you were 6 months ago?
  • What was the last content (video, article, or podcast) that interested you?
  • What are you currently developing for yourself?
  • How have you contributed to the improvement of your colleagues?
  • What kind of problem do people seek advice from you?
  • When was the last time you didn’t know something when someone asked you?

These questions focus on the candidate’s ability to succeed:

  • What was the last thing you discovered about yourself that you didn’t realize before?
  • Why do you perform better now at things you are currently doing compared to 6 months ago?
  • What was the last course you took that needed to be corrected and why?
  • Are there things you would’ve wanted to do differently on the last project you did?
  • What are your current goals?

These questions focus on the candidate’s performance:

  • Tell me about a project that didn’t succeed and who took accountability for it.
  • How did you evaluate the success of the project you led?
  • Why are you efficient in your tasks?
  • Which is more important: making things right or making the right thing?
  • What is an incorrect way to execute XYZ?


Finally, you have an understanding of how to source and identify strong potential candidates. If you want to remain competitive in your industry, it’s crucial that you adapt and plan for the future. That’s because businesses now are fast-paced. Measures you did that benefitted the country many years ago might not be effective now. So, it’s a must that you include recruitment of high-potential candidates and their development.

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