The 5 Types of Applicants That Apply To Your Jobs

Lakesia Wimberly


As a hiring manager, or someone who conducts interviews for open positions, you come across several types of people. Even when speaking to several candidates for the same position, you can encounter individuals of varying backgrounds, experience, and points of view. The key to building a well-rounded and diverse workforce is to be open-minded when interviewing people who are not the exact fit you were looking for.


In today’s post, we will examine the five types of job applicants you interview for the open positions in your company. Not every applicant will fall into one of these five buckets, however you will find that most candidates can be identified by at least one, if not more than one of these labels. We will also talk about how to interview this type of person and what to look out for before hiring them.


Person #1: The Excellent Student

Who Are They?

A candidate who excelled academically will be quick to point this out in their resume. They will talk about their GPA, degree, classes they took and recommendations from professors and other college employees. This is especially common in recent graduates who need to make up for the fact that they lack real world experience. Yet, as many hiring managers can tell you, great grades do not automatically equal a great employee.


What To Look Out For

A high GPA looks good on paper, but you have to dig deeper to understand how relevant it is to the position they are applying for. It’s nice they got an A+ in a finance class, but what did they learn? Ask them to talk about the projects they worked on and the knowledge they obtained. You also want to make sure you ask hypothetical questions to see how they will work in groups with other co-workers.


Person #2: The Industry Veteran

Who Are They?

This individual is loaded with experience in the industry in which you operate in. They have been working for companies similar to yours for years, if not longer. Often, they will have worked for your competitors and other big name companies in your field. They often stand out in the resume screening process because they have the most relevant experience.


What To Look Out For

On paper, it may look like you have your winner and you might. However, it’s important you still do your due diligence. For example, the candidate should be able to talk at length about their industry knowledge, projects they have worked on, and what they have learned from their past roles. You also want to make sure they are open-minded to learning the way things are done at your company. The last thing you want is to hire someone who thinks they know everything and refuses to adapt to their new team and the processes they use.


Person #3: The Job Hopper

Who Are They?

This individual has a resume that includes several jobs held for under a year. They may also have significant gaps in between positions. It is common for the individual who is screening resumes to skip over these types of candidates. This would be a mistake. There are several reasons someone may leave a job earlier than expected or be out of work for an extended amount of time. They deserve the chance to explain themselves and show their worth instead of being immediately disqualified.


What To Look Out For

You can ask this type of candidate direct questions about why they left their previous employers. Just be careful about asking too many follow-up questions to answers that involve medical or personal issues. The key is to understand if they left due to legitimate reasons or if they are someone who quits when things get tough. You also want to ask direct questions about employment gaps. It is possible they were working somewhere, just not a job relevant to the one they are currently applying to.


Person #4: The Underqualified

Who Are They?

Job seekers often apply to jobs they are underqualified for, hoping something on their resume will grab the attention of the hiring manager. This candidate has some criteria listed but is usually missing a few key elements. Just like with ‘The Job Hopper,’ many screeners are quick to pass on interviewing this candidate. Once again, that would be a mistake. Some skills can be taught. What can’t be taught is attitude, passion, and drive to excel in the position they are applying for.


What To Look Out For

Let’s say your job description lists ten requirements and this candidate only has experience in six or seven. The first thing to do is gauge the level of expertise they have in those areas. You also want to figure out how important those missing areas are. For example, if the six areas they excel in are the six most important ones for this job, then it might not matter as much if they are missing the other four. You also want to gauge their attitude and ability to learn. If they are willing to learn what they don’t know and show a passion for the company and position, they should be strongly considered for the role.


Person #5: The Referral

Who Are They?

The last person on this list is any candidate who was referred by someone within the company. This can be tricky on a few levels. First, they may have been referred by an executive or someone above you. Second, it is possible they do not match the criteria listed on the job description but made it past the screeners because of who sent the resume in. Lastly, this individual may feel that because of their connection, the job is already theirs.


What To Look Out For

It’s key to treat this person like any other candidate. Regardless of who recommended them, they need to earn the job based on their own merit. Otherwise, you risk hurting the company by hiring someone who is not the right fit. The first test is how they treat the interview. If they are well prepared and eager, that is a good sign. If they appear aloof and act like it is a formality, that is a red flag. Lastly, after the interview, speak to the person who referred them and ask for their opinion. You may learn something valuable about the candidate. At the very least, you can gauge the situation to understand how passionately this employee supports the candidate they referred to you.



Interviewing job candidates is a complex process. It’s important that each person is treated with respect and given a fair chance to show their potential value. It is crucial to have a strong hiring process in place. This allows your team to screen, interview, and hire high-quality talent that will be with your organization for years to come.


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