HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Superstar Candidate

Superstar candidates: myth or a must have? Read more to find out.

What Are the Characteristics of Superstar Candidates?

Superstar candidates are A+, 5 star, blue-ribbon candidates and they are rare. Identifying a superstar candidate is more nuanced than simply finding a candidate who meets all of the job description requirements. A good litmus test to identify a superstar candidate is to measure fit. Measuring fit is more refined than objectively matching a candidate to job description requirements because fit also includes intangible soft skills and motivators. Making things more complicated, a superstar candidate may be a superstar candidate for one organization but not the right fit for another. Let’s further explore the characteristics of a superstar candidate and how to identify one for your company.


In the simplest terms, focus means persisting on the task at hand. In the business world, that is easier said than done. Focus measures a person’s ability to prioritize competing interests, projects, and goals. Focused people are able to sift through distractions and stay centered and oriented on the main goal.


There is an adage that illustrates the importance of hiring someone who is ‘hungry’: “stay hungry or starve.” Candidates who are hungry are persistent in their pursuit of goals and have a ‘never satisfied’ mantra. That doesn’t mean they are always dissatisfied but that they are always proactively looking to make the next impact and reach the next milestone. Candidates who are hungry will have the drive to work through difficult learning curves and stay motivated when tasks are hard.


Accountability is all about ownership. Superstar candidates don’t just show up to perform a job; they show up to run their own business. Regardless of whether their job title is vice president of security operations or custodian, those with accountability treat their role as if it is their own business. This mentality fosters creativity in solving problems to achieve greater outcomes. When things don’t go as planned, those with accountability take responsibility for the failure and offer a solution to move forward. Accountable candidates also bring solid communication skills to the table.


Angela Duckworth in her book Grit provides one of the most well-researched definitions of ‘grit’ available: Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals.One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t.Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an” ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow. Employers often look for grit because it highly correlates with success. Grit correlates with success because gritty people don’t give up and find a way to accomplish their goals.


Teamwork is a buffet of superstar attributes. It builds new ideas, boosts team morale, solves problems, and cements company culture. Regardless of the role, you are hiring for, teamwork is an essential characteristic of a superstar candidate because it defines how your applicant will interact with the rest of the organization.


Superstar candidates come prepared for interviews. Preparation is important because it shows investment. Here are a few indicators that someone is prepared:
  1. Research your company. They will not know everything about your organization but they will have a general understanding of your value proposition and what you do.
  2. Understand the role. Again, they will not know everything about your role up front, but they will know enough to tell you why they are interested in pursuing the interview process.
  3. Ask thoughtful questions. They will ask questions that show they are curious, interested, and invested.


Polished candidates are not necessarily the most extroverted candidates. They are candidates that carry themselves with professionalism, articulate what they bring to the table, sell themselves, exercise communication skills, and respect your time. Polish is another intangible that will help you measure how genuine a candidate is. Polished candidates will be themselves instead of trying to give you the answer they think you want to hear.

Why is Hiring the Right Candidate for the Role So Important?

Superstar candidates are going to do exactly what you would expect and want them to do, so a defining characteristic of a superstar candidate is getting what you are actually hiring for. Superstar candidates will:
  • Add to your culture. Superstar candidates are the ones who quickly become the indispensable members of your team you can’t imagine functioning without. They are the ones that make coming to work a fulfilling experience.
  • Stay. Voluntary employee turnover is costing businesses $1 trillion dollars per year. Simply put, employee turnover is killing businesses. During the great resignation, keeping employees is more important than ever. Superstar candidates are the ones who will not only stay but remain engaged and committed to your organization.
  • Make an impact. Superstar candidates are going to be your superstars. They will be the ones who add validity to the phrase, “20% of your people do 80% of the work.” In fact, a recent study shows that top performers outperform average employees by 400%. If you are looking for reasons to hold out for that superstar candidate, or build processes that attract and hire top performers, that statistic should resonate.

How To Attract and Hire the Best Candidates Possible

Look for Passive Talent

Superstar candidates are not always actively applying to new jobs. In fact, most are happily employed being superstars. So if you want superstar candidates, you will have to attract and engage with them. This is not to say you should not invest in building your application pool because incoming applications are still a valuable commodity. But if you want a strategy that gives the greatest likelihood of hiring superstar candidates, you need to diversify your talent pool with passive candidates.

Provide a Superstar Interview Process

Superstars are only going to be interested in working for superstar organizations. You can help them identify you as a superstar organization by providing them with a superstar interview experience. Glassdoor and Google reviews can be powerful tools, but the most powerful determining factor for candidates is the actual experience they have when they interview. If you treat them like a superstar, they will be more likely to join your organization.

Communicate Your Employer Value Proposition

Your employer value proposition is the heart of your employer brand and articulates how the internal reality of working for your organization impacts the business goals and direction of your organization. Communicating the employer value proposition will connect your candidate far more deeply than pitching off the cool perks your office might have like mediation rooms, catered lunches, and onsite kombucha machines.

Hire for Superstar Characteristics

We reviewed seven superstar characteristics to look for during the interview process. In addition to matching the necessary hard skills required to perform a job, your interview process should include relevant behavioral and situational questions to consistently and repeatedly measure soft skills.
Tyler Fisher, PHR

Tyler Fisher, PHR

Tyler empowers Talent Acquisition professionals, HR business leaders, and key stake holders to develop and execute talent management strategies. He is igniting the talent acquisition process through: team building, accurate time to fill forecasting, driving creative talent sourcing, and fine-tuning recruiting team effectiveness.
View author page
Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Applicant Auto-Rejection
Blind Resumes
Blind Screening
Boomerang Employee
Candidate Journey
Candidate Pipeline
Candidate Pool
Candidate Withdrawal
Career Gap
Contrast Effect
Cover Letters
Employment History
Functional Resume
Job Hopping
Passive Candidates
Qualified Applicant
Reference Check
Resume Screening
Eddy's HR Newsletter
Sign up for our email newsletter for helpful HR advice and ideas.
Simple and accurate payroll.
Pay your U.S.-based employees on time, every time, with Eddy.