In the search for top talent, every recruiter prefers an informed candidate. Why? Informed candidates make the hiring process easier by asking smarter questions, doing the necessary research on the company, and tailoring their expectations to the role they’re applying for.

So how can these job-seeking unicorns be spotted?Click here to download our free guide to hiring and training a team of  all-stars.

Here are a number of indicators that will show you that you have an informed candidate in your application pipeline — for more, download the Ultimate Screening Checklist.

1. They Came as a Referral

Every year, employee referrals top the list as a source of new talent for employers — in 2016, 30 percent of all hires were a result of employee referrals, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

This is no accident: employee referrals are one of the most reliable sources for informed candidates. One reason for this is that your employees share your goal in wanting to recommend a good candidate — it makes them look good, brings in their friend or acquaintance to the company and sometimes even gives them a bonus for a successful referral.

In addition, referred candidates are often better informed because they have a friend who can fill them in on the ins and outs of the company, both before the interview and during the onboarding process. Referred candidates also save hiring time in the long run: multiple studies have shown that referred candidates have a higher retention rate — a 2015 study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics showed that in high-tech jobs, referred candidates are 26 percent less likely to quit.

2. Their Resume Is Tailored to the Job Description

In today’s digitized job application process, candidates can send out a flurry of job applications with just a few clicks of a button. High-quality candidates, however, will spend time tailoring their resume to fit the company and the specific job description. One place to look for this is in the candidate’s statement or objective section. Banner

Statements that are bland and can apply to any job show a lack of thoughtfulness, while a statement that clearly is aligned with the goals of the company and the role that is being asked for is a clear sign you have an informed candidate on your hands. In addition, the presence of relevant industry keywords shows that they are familiar with the industry and know how to use the terminology.

3. They Understand the Role

Having an understanding of the role that they’ve applied to saves time for both the candidate and the employer. The applicant’s resume and cover letter, as well as the questions they ask during the interview, are the best places to see that they have thought about how their experience qualifies them for each specific aspect of the role. At the same time, it is your duty as an employer to follow best practices for writing a job description, and make the duties and expectations for the role as clear as possible.

4. They Ask Intelligent Questions

Before coming in for an interview, any competent candidate should have done their research on the company — if they have, it will likely show in the questions they ask you. Asking informed questions shows that they have both invested time in bulking up their knowledge of the company and getting to know the company on a deeper level. Bonus points if they bring up recent company news or product developments!

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