6 Qualities to Look for in a ‘Model Candidate’

March 25, 2015

All the posing, primping and satirized pretentiousness that surrounded the recent announcement of a “Zoolander” sequel got me contemplating what makes for an ideal job candidate, or what I like to call a “model candidate.”

I’m not talking about a fashion model vying for an ad campaign, but a dream applicant whose impressive experience, confident body language, and ability to interview well makes them look good. They make your job easy because you want to, as they say in the fashion world, “book” them on the spot.

Here’s a fresh Zoolander-inspired lineup of fashion parallels to help guide you in what to look for in a quality candidate:

1. Confidence

Professional fashion models know their best angles and know how to use them. The top-notch candidate is always prepared to discuss career accomplishments and why they’re perfectly fit for the role. Putting their best assets forward is a cakewalk for them – or should we say “catwalk?”

2. Poise

Do they carry themselves well? A promising prospect needn’t have the gait of Naomi Campbell or swagger of Tyson Beckford, but posture offers a window into whom the aspiring employee is. Head held high is a strong indicator of aplomb, determination, and a positive spirit. Slouching could be a sign of poor habits, too casual of an attitude, and lack of attention to details. Of course there are always exceptions, but these are the most obvious signs.

3. Headshot

Does the camera love them? A candidate’s LinkedIn profile photo doesn’t have to be snapped by Steven Meisel, but it should definitely be professional, appropriate and current. In other words, well groomed, no party pics, and a photo taken at least within the last couple of years.

Let’s say you came across a jobseeker with impressive credentials but he’s striking a “Zoolander” pose in his profile photo. Would this tempt you to schedule him for an interview because he could be fun and perform the job well? Or would you move onto the next candidate? Something to think about.

4. Portfolio

Like a fashion model demonstrating their runway walk for a potential client, here’s the opportunity for the candidate to walk you through their work and for you to size up their presentation skills. If they’re effective at making their work shine, you know you’ve got a confident applicant in your midst.

5. Preparedness

Models have the advantage of makeup to disguise flaws (puffy eyes, pimples) but there’s no hiding lack of preparation for an interview. It’s always easy to tell if someone’s not ready. Like a model tripping or falling on the runway, a candidate might stumble through the conversation, or worse, fill the room with moments of awkward silence because they can’t find the right words. You and I both know this is where you should probably not waste anyone’s time and politely cut the meeting short.

6. Dressing the part

In order to be successful in their careers, models need to fit the designer’s clothes so they can help make them more alluring to customers. The same applies for a job applicant vying to be a prime contender for a position. Does the candidate know the brand and understand the company culture enough to know what employees wear to the office? The answer is likely to show if they are way overdressed for an interview with a company whose everyday attire is jeans and tees.

Here’s an example of a candidate who did her pre-interview homework and dressed  accordingly. I’m not saying that personal style is necessarily the most important factor when interviewing, but it’s definitely something you can use to help sweeten the deal.

“I had a candidate that told me she was going to a job interview wearing a cut-off/sleeveless T-shirt which showed off her tattoos and vintage ripped jeans,” said Scott Gibree, President, Emerging Blue, a San Francisco boutique-style recruiting agency that represents creative talent in fashion, advertising and digital media. While some recruiters may have freaked out, I thought it was perfect. She went for the interview with Levi’s and they called me to extend an offer before she even left the building. In addition to having great skills, they felt that she would have a good understanding of the brand with her individual style. Daring to be herself resonated with the hiring manager and made the difference.”

Final thoughts

Now that you know what I mean by “model candidate,” you can draw from this inspired list to more easily find better-fitting roles for your recruits. And if you do, think of it this way: You’ll also be enhancing and developing your own signature style of interviewing. And that’s something that never goes out of fashion.

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*Image from Entertainment Weekly 

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