How to create an Ideal Candidate Profile

8 minute read

Posted by Emily Hill on 25 April 2024

It’s all too common: candidates are hired, only for both the individual and the organisation to soon realise they aren’t the right fit for the role.

If this sounds familiar, it’s can be a sign that you have a flaw in your recruitment process.

One of the most common reasons is not agreeing on an Ideal Candidate Profile before starting the candidate selection and shortlisting process.

In this article, we delve into the importance of creating an Ideal Candidate Profile, outline our approach to building one, and tips to get it right.

What is an Ideal Candidate Profile?

An Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP) is a blueprint for identifying and evaluating potential hires. It represents a summary of the attributes (skills, behaviours and characteristics) essential for success in a particular role. An ICP is essential for a skills-based hiring approach and plays a pivotal role in aligning recruitment efforts with the specific needs and requirements of the position.

Importantly, an Ideal Candidate Profile should consider a range of perspectives of what attributes are required to thrive in the position. They shouldn’t be created by one person or one department, instead, it should be agreed upon by consensus between key stakeholders in the organisation. Who is in this stakeholder group depends on the role, however, typically we recommend having representation from the following areas:

  • Recruitment / Talent Acquisition
  • HR / People
  • Hiring Managers
  • Trainers / L&D
  • Role experts; the people actually doing the work

Each contributor will have unique opinions on what attributes are more important to perform the job well today and are likely to be in the future.

Steps to create an Ideal Candidate Profile:

Step 1 – Conduct a Job Analysis

Begin by conducting a comprehensive job analysis to identify the skills and competencies required for the role. This involves surveying people in the job about the responsibilities and requirements of the position.

Choose some employees (we recommend at least a dozen), who you think have a good understanding of the role, and are currently working in it day-to-day.

The output of the Job Analysis is a detailed report showing you the tasks people do, the attributes required to complete those tasks effectively, as well as what people in the job find challenging and rewarding.

Here’s an image showing the tasks people do in a Forklift Operator role and how much time is spent on those tasks each week:

Here’s an image showing the breakdown of the core attributes required for a Technician role.

If you’re using Signal for this then please note that you can customise your questionnaire and the email you send your employees ahead of sending it. You can also choose whether people are completing it anonymously or not.

It’s a good idea to set a deadline for this (usually one week). You’ll need this ahead of the next step, the ICP workshop.

Try Signal for free here:

Step 2 – Conduct an Ideal Candidate Profile Workshop

Next, you’ll need to ensure alignment among key stakeholders by discussing and agreeing on the hiring criteria.

Start this discussion by asking the group which attributes listed in the Job Analysis report are essential to performing the role successfully. This way people are less inclined to bring forward subjective attributes such as personality traits that aren’t physically evident in the job itself.

When we host an ICP workshop we use the Three C’s framework to get to a list of attributes. These 3 C’s are:

Capability – Can they do the job?

This is the most important category. It represents the skills and tasks required for the candidate to be successful in the role. You’ll identify and describe each skill and provide positive/negative indicators and example scenarios where appropriate.

Commitment – Do they want to do the job?

An ideal assessment would include measurable questions about a candidate’s motivation for applying for the role. As you can’t guarantee how honest a candidate has been in answering this type of question, this category measures how committed the candidate is based on the amount of research the candidate has done in advance. 

Culture & Environment – What should they know about the job and work environment ahead of joining?

This category is typically more about awareness than measurement. The goal is to identify the most important aspects of the job and culture that could cause a new starter to leave. The purpose is to capture the day-to-day realities of the company and the role. This allows the company to assess if the candidate will work well in this environment and for the candidate to self-select out of the process.

Read more about hosting this workshop here.

Step 3 – Prioritise your attributes

Once you have captured the list of attributes, it’s time to decide which ones should carry the most weight in the ICP. This is important if you’re scoring candidates against your hiring criteria via a structured interview, or if you’re creating an online assessment.

The goal here is to identify and prioritize the most important items so you can give more weighting to candidates that demonstrate high performance in certain attributes above others.

You’ll need to document the desired attributes in priority order and assign a % weighting for each attribute so that the total score adds up to 100%.

It’s ok if some attributes have 0% weighting; often these are things that aren’t measurable but candidates needs to be aware of the requirements before joining the company. Typically these are environmental attributes such as an ability to lift a certain amount of weight, or being happy to work shift patterns etc.

Here’s an example of a complete ICP.

Step 4 – Define your attributes

Once the attributes have been agreed upon they need to be clearly defined. It would be a mistake to assume people knew exactly what you were talking about when you speak about an attribute. Take the attribute ‘attention to detail’ as an example. This can mean many different things in different work contexts. So providing a clear, job-relevant definition for the attribute will avoid confusion when it comes to assessing candidates against it.

Here’s are two examples of the attribute ‘Attention to Detail’ definitions for two ThriveMap customers:

Example Attribute: Attention to Detail

Customer A’s definition: Ability to spot errors and omissions

Customer B’s definition: Pays close attention to their allocated tasks, ensuring freight is handled effectively and efficiently. Capable of sorting multiple orders while simultaneously ensuring that the shipment details on the freight correspond to the information provided.

Do you think it’s likely that Customer A would ask the same questions to assess someone’s attention to detail as Customer B?

Whilst agreeing with the workshop group on the definition of each attribute, it’s important to provide positive and negative indicators of the attribute. Ask the question “How would I be able to distinguish between someone who demonstrates good [insert attribute e.g. attention to detail] in the role versus someone who doesn’t?”

Capture these definitions and indicators for each attribute – use our free templates if you like: google drive folder here.

Step 5 – Implement an Assessment System

Once you have your ICP, you’re ready to start recruiting against it. We recommend conducting structured interviews with a clear scoring system of the ICP attributes and their respective weightings in the overall hiring decision.

There are various ways to do this, but the best way is often to build a spreadsheet with interview questions and a simple 0-4 scoring for each attribute.

If you want to create an online pre-hire assessment to ensure that only candidates that meet your ICP get through to phone screen or interview stage then we can develop these assessments for you. Learn more about our Realistic Job Assessments.

Top Mistakes Creating an Ideal Candidate Profile:

Here are the top mistakes to avoid when building your Ideal Candidate Profile:

  1. 1. Unconscious biases can influence the selection of criteria and attributes, leading to a skewed perception of the ideal candidate. By enlisting the support of a third party, such as ThriveMap, you can avoid unconscious bias in your recruitment process.
  2. 2. Assumptions: Making assumptions about the role or the candidate pool without sufficient evidence or research can result in inaccuracies in the ICP. This is why we recommend using Signal to survey people currently doing the role to ensure the skills you’re hiring for reflect realities.
  3. 3. Limited input: Not seeking input from a diverse range of stakeholders, including employees currently in similar roles, can result in overlooking important criteria. ThriveMap hosts a workshop to gather input and feedback from the hiring committee.
  4. 4. Failure to iterate and validate: Neglecting to review and revise the ICP based on feedback, performance data, and changing business needs can result in outdated and ineffective profiles over time. ThriveMap provides comprehensive support to validate your criteria against real-world performance data.

Getting the ICP right with ThriveMap

As the first stage in ThriveMap’s process, our structured approach to developing the ICP forms provides a strong foundation for a successful and sustainable recruitment process. Our pre-hire assessment questions are then tailored to understand the skills that are needed to easily and quickly identify the best fit candidates inline with the ICP.

Next Steps:
To kickstart the process and begin building a faster, more efficient and profitable recruitment process, get a ThriveMap demo.


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About ThriveMap

ThriveMap creates customised assessments for high volume roles, which take candidates through an online “day in the life” experience of work in your company. Our assessments have been proven to reduce staff turnover, reduce time to hire, and improve quality of hire.

Not sure what type of assessment is right for your business? Read our guide.

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