Look Beyond the Resume

Want to hire the best employee? Consider going to E-Harmony or OKCupid. No, this is not to suggest you’ll find your perfect hire at a dating site; but you are liable to learn a thing or two about what it takes to make the perfect match.

Successful dating sites know it’s important to go beyond the basic “Who?,” “What?,” “When?”, “Where?” and “How?” That’s why they also pose open-ended “questions” such as, “Tell us what makes you happy;” or “Describe your favorite vacation spot.” This tactic helps reveal more about a person’s true personality than she or he might ordinarily volunteer, thus increasing the chances of a successful first date. You can adapt this method when filling your next open position.

Once you or a computer has scanned that stack of resumes and saved the ones that tick all the right boxes – education, experience, salary requirements and so on – it’s time to move on to interviews. Often, a telephone call will reveal enough about a candidate to tell you whether an in-person interview is warranted.

Then, once the finalists for the job are seated across from you, you can begin evaluating traits that do not expose themselves in a carefully crafted resume or cover letter. How curious are they about the company? About the job, itself? Do they appear motivated and energetic?

Don’t count a person out simply because he or she lacks a particular skill. If someone demonstrates an eagerness to learn, that attribute may pay off long after he or she has acquired what is needed to fulfill the current job requirements.

Use open-ended questions to learn about previous job performance. You might have someone describe an especially difficult project he or she faced to get a sense for that candidate’s problem-solving skills – again, going beyond what you might learn from a piece of paper.

And without getting too personal, have a friendly conversation about a person’s favorite hobby, sport or other pastime. How did he or she get involved? Why is it important? And how does it bring that person joy or fulfillment?

Skills can be taught; personality, eagerness, curiosity and dedication cannot. So, while it’s important to find someone who has the training and background to perform the needed tasks, it is vital to hire an individual who embraces all the other attributes that would make her or him right for your job and your company. And those are things no resume (or dating profile) can predict.