HR Series with Selina BUABENG & Charles Leslie ODAME: What makes a good or bad candidate?


The question of who makes a good or bad candidate for a job can be totally subjective, as you cannot possibly describe a perfect candidate because every role has a criterion for who makes a great candidate. Beyond that, there’s also the employer’s or recruiter’s point of view.

However, there are a few characteristics that you can use to identify if someone is a good candidate or not. So, what makes a good candidate? Describing a good candidate can be very subjective, but there are generally some characteristics candidates possess which will determine if they are good or vice versa.

Characteristics of a Good Candidate

Relevant past experience

A good candidate should have relevant past experience from their past employment, and be able to bring valuable ideas to the table. It is great to see a candidate who possesses a track-record of success. Usually, you can see this from their resume. It gives the indication that such a candidate is forward-thinking and will be able to contribute positively to the organisation.

Fair understanding of the role

A candidate who comes to an interview with concrete ideas about the job, and what is expected of him or her, is a good candidate. This shows he has a fair idea and understanding of what the role entails and what is expected of him, and knows exactly how he intends to contribute.

General knowledge about company

Another characteristic of a good candidate is his or her ability to have basic information about the organisation – what they do, who they are, their culture as well as their values. Once a candidate knows these things, they can identify with the organiation and hit the ground running when they are given the opportunity.

This attribute speaks well of the candidate. In effect, if a candidate shows that he or she has taken time to research about the company, he or she might just be a good fit for the company. However, candidates shouldn’t only be knowledgeable about the hard facts.


During an interview, you can infer if a candidate is being honest or not. An honest candidate can speak to issues in a candid manner and can be a great fit for any organisation. It’s quite easy to identify someone who has provided false information at any point during the application process. Dishonesty gets discovered and is grounds for withdrawing job offers and for firing.


Recruiters talk about the perfect candidate – but, truthfully, all candidates have flaws. Being self-aware is an interpersonal skill that every good candidate should possess.

Excellent Communication skills

For an organisation to be successful, effective communication is key. For someone to be considered as a good candidate, the person must have good communication skills both orally or verbally. Being able to articulate your thoughts properly is an essential skill in the corporate world.


Candidates who show so much zeal and have a high sense of enthusiasm during interviews might not necessarily match up to all the requirements for a specific role, but will be a great fit for an organisation.

Motivated candidates tend to perform well when they become employees. It’s not about what they say, it’s about how they say it; and with such candidates, the exuberance they exude will be very beneficial to the firm. As a recruiter, if you are able to identify such traits in a candidate, it’s most certainly a good candidate. It is crucial to identify candidates who take pride in their previous work and what they can bring on board in the new role.

Seamless interview/conversation

An interview should be a dialogue between an interviewer and candidate: it shouldn’t be one-way. The candidate should engage the interviewer as much as the interviewer does.

Characteristics of a Bad Candidate

Speaking poorly of past employers

They speak ill of their current or past employer. A candidate who bad-mouths his or her employer is a no-no. It is fair to talk about certain negative experiences, but going overboard is unacceptable. It doesn’t speak well of the candidate. Candidates who bad-mouth their current or past employers should refrain from that.


Lack of professionalism is a trait of a bad candidate. An unprofessional candidate will show signs of poor grooming, bad etiquette, lateness etc.

They are ill-prepared

Documentation will not be in the right order, zero research about the company – and such candidates are unable to answer questions correctly.


This is not to say underqualified candidates should not be hired. They may be good for entry level roles, but for experienced hires it is always important to bring in very qualified personnel for such roles.

As you gain more experience as a recruiter, it will help you form a strong impression of a candidate from their CV. The key is to have a clear picture of your ideal candidate, taking into consideration the relevant qualities and skills they should possess and the value they can bring to the table.

>>>Selina Buabeng is an HR Practitioner with over 11 years’ cross-industry experience in Ghana’s banking sector. She is a Certified Human Resource Practitioner with certification from the Institute of Human Resources Practitioners Ghana. She holds an MBA in Human Resource Management and BSc. Human Resource Management from University of Ghana and Valley View University respectively. Connect with Selina via LinkedIn: Selina Buabeng, Instagram/Twitter: @ selinabuabeng_, YouTube: Selina Buabeng

 >>> Charles Leslie Odame is an HR Generalist with over 15 years’ experience in Human Resource Management, HR Business Partnering, Rewards, Compensation & Benefits/Talent Management in the insurance, outsourcing and banking sectors. Charles is currently the HR Business Partner with one of Ghana’s leading commercial banks. He is a Certified Human Resource Practitioner with certification from the Institute of Human Resources Practitioners Ghana. Charles holds a Commonwealth Executive Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science & Sociology from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology and University of Ghana respectively. Connect with Charles via LinkedIn: Charles Leslie Koranteng Odame


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