During the interview process, recruiters and hiring managers look for certain requirements to be met. We evaluate levels of experience and skill, looking to find the best candidates for our open positions. But the best quality candidate often has something in addition to our checklist of requirements. He or she has the “soft skills” that set them apart from other candidates. Those skills are a little more difficult to check off during a phone interview, but it is certainly possible. Here is how I look for these skills to determine the best candidate.

Check Their Initiative

I always ask the candidate if they are familiar with the company. It is a basic question, but it has several implications. Some will openly say they did not look up or understand the company, which might reveal a lack of initiative. In certain industries, if a candidate is not familiar with the company, they are unlikely to be truly interested in the position. I always note if someone is accurate with their description, but I do not hold it against them if they are not 100% on point.

Create an Environment of Honesty

I am upfront and honest with candidates. Using my knowledge of the role, the organization and the hiring manager, I portray the requirements and challenges of the position with accuracy. Honesty on my end makes candidates more likely to be honest with me. Once you have established trust, respectfully ask questions about their skills and previously held positions. Get to the root of their experience and make sure they are truly qualified to fill the role. At the same time, make note of those who lack certain experience, but successfully explain why they would make a good fit.

Encourage Them to Show Personality

Building rapport with a candidate is the best way to gauge their true personality. Everyone gets nervous during an interview, so putting them at ease allows us to learn much more about them, while also providing an excellent candidate experience. It can be difficult to connect with some candidates, but we can empathize with situations such as lay-offs, going back to school or wanting advancement. Depending on the situation or the team you are looking to create, personality is a soft skill that can set individuals apart.

I always look for the good in my candidates, rather than reasons to fail them. If candidates can tell that we are genuinely doing our best to get them into a good fit, they will be open about their actual experience, skills and aspirations. While writing a review or notes about the candidate, I always include information about their personality, professionalism and soft skills. I let my hiring managers know how this person fits with the atmosphere and team we are building.

Our goal as a talent acquisition team is to provide the best quality candidates to hiring managers so they can make the best quality hires. We are all working together to learn as much as we can to make an educated final decision. Ultimately, an individual’s personality, honesty and drive can place one candidate above the others. Make sure you take the time to uncover these elements during the interview process.

This post was contributed by Maggie Kroll, Recruiter. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.