Still Hiring People Based on Their Resume? Stop.


I’ve had a number of conversations recently about hiring.

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Growing the team is the hardest thing most companies will do, and attracting great talent makes the difference between market leader and perpetual mediocrity.

A-Team with B Idea beats out B Team with A Idea every time. So it often gives people pause when I tell them to not look at resumes.

Let me clarify, I’m not saying have no one look at a candidate’s resume, developers should have their skills vetted, designer portfolios need reviewing, marketers should provide campaign examples, etc., but those things should all be secondary to what truly matters.
When hiring, care about three things;
  1. Can this person solve problems? ( creative thinking )
  2. Will this person fit in and add value to the team on a human level? ( cultural fit )
  3. Will the company and the individual grow equally during the relationship? ( purpose )
If you can get a sense of those measures, then past work history becomes the least valuable indicator of future success.

A View Into The Past

Think about for a moment what a resume tells you.

That, someone, had success in a place that wasn’t yours?

That they spent time with a team that was made up differently than the one you have?

That they operated with more or less support than you can provide?

For the same reason that all business advice should be taken as guidance and not rote instruction; your challenges, your needs, your goals, your team, are yours alone, and measuring against that is all that matters.

The specifics of almost any job can be taught, the specific challenges of an industry can be learned, the unique voice of an organization can be imparted…you cannot teach people how to think or how not be an asshole.

A Better Way

So instead of interviews have human conversations. Be friendly, break down barriers and learn something real about the people you’re thinking of hiring.

Gauge whether or not they’d fit with the people you already have and trust. Find out the things they need to feel like they’re progressing in their lives and career.

Find out who they are, what they like, what inspires them and drop the questions about where people see themselves in five years time or how they handled a generic challenge.

We used to conduct interviews in the pub down the street from our office, often over a pitcher of beer, and we used to watch how people would handle the little things like refilling empty glasses or being kind to servers, these things make a difference.

Years ago, I used to dump an entire Lego set down on the table in front of me before an interview began and without fail the candidates that were hired and worked out the best were the ones who without prompting picked up pieces and started contributing to whatever I was building.

Might I also suggest bringing a potential hire to a brainstorming meeting and see how they mesh with how the team operates and thinks?

 

Final Thought

I want to say it was Seth Godin, but I’d have to look it up, that gave me one of my favorite interview closers. He would ask, as his final question in an interview, for any position the following;

How many gas stations are there in the United States?

He didn’t care about the number ( though I did look it up and it’s around 115,000 ), all he wanted to hear was how you might try and arrive at an answer. Those who attacked the question creatively showed him they could problem solve, and in asking hundreds of people the same over the years, it’s almost never failed to show me the same.