The search for talent is never simple. You’re likely looking for someone who ticks off a whole bunch of boxes all at once, ranging from education and experience in your company’s industry (or something very similar) to pertinent software and hardware know-how. All of those are indeed important.
“Not all of the skills you should seek in employees fit into a typical resume.”
But there are also certain personal attributes that don’t necessarily find their way into the text of job postings. Many recruiters value these strongly, and you’d be wise to follow suit. Let’s take a look at a handful of them:
Evidence of strong verbal communication
Of course candidates can write on their resumes that they’re skilled at the art of communication, verbal or otherwise. After all, as The Balance Careers noted, communication is a skill important to virtually every employer. Proving it is another thing altogether.
The interview process represents the arena in which job candidates do – or don’t – put their money where their mouth is in this regard. As such, it’s critical for you to listen not just to the words the candidates are saying, but also how they’re saying them. Keep your ear trained to hear nuances of syntax, speech cadence, the emotions suggested by their intonation of various phrases and similar factors. You don’t have to be an expert at this, but working as a recruiter or hiring manager you’ve heard interview claims genuine, bogus and everything in between, so put that experience to use here.
Compatibility and flexibility
Interviews also present an opportunity to figure out how flexible a candidate can be: Don’t be afraid to throw curveball questions, placing them in hypothetical situations where they would face difficult decisions – as they most likely will in at least some aspects of their jobs. Give them a few moments to think about it and see how they react. Be on the lookout for answers that come too readily or too slowly and aren’t accompanied by body language indicative of honesty. (Citing medical professionals, Time magazine noted hand gestures immediately following speech, pursing of the lips, changes in complexion and sudden changes in volume or intonation as signs of probable deception.)
Compatibility also pertains to how employees fit in with corporate culture. Be sure to ask them about how they fit in with previous office cultures, particularly those in similar industries or with near-identical organizational structures. While you won’t know for certain if anyone will jell with your business until they’ve been there a while, honest examples of past success in this regard are a good sign.
Empathy and compassion
In a post for her blog I Want Her Job, career consultant Brianne Perlberg wrote that recruiters for Microsoft and other major tech companies place major emphasis on “empathy for the end user” – understanding how a customer experiences a problem that a piece of software or cloud platform is meant to solve.
This philosophy can apply to almost any field, especially finance or professional services; the only difference is what’s being sold. An ability to empathize with the difficulties of existing and potential clients and rectify such issues from that perspective is invaluable, so you would do well to talk to job candidates about their track record of customer service success and effective collaboration with colleagues.
In an interview with tech resource provider Built in Colorado, SolidFire lead recruiter Karen Stafford explained how savvy hiring managers consider a job applicant’s motivation to work in a particular position.
“Recruiters look for candidates who know what they have to offer and have a clear understanding of how their skills will mesh with the company they are interviewing with,” Stafford said.
Resumes can speak to this attribute in some ways, of course. But the interview will be essential for figuring out the whole story. As we noted earlier, you shouldn’t be afraid to put applicants on the spot with frank questions. Motivation to work in a particular job – at your organization rather than for one of your competitors – is a characteristic worth examining. If they offer form-letter answers, they’re probably not right for the position. But if they answer thoughtfully and with honest candor, you could be looking at a great new staff member.