Leadership Strategy

Council Post: How To Prioritize Skills Over Resumes When Hiring: 12 Proven Strategies


Hiring managers are undoubtedly aware that just because a candidate has an impressive resume doesn’t mean they can do the job. Resumes are still an excellent way of gauging a candidate’s ability to learn, but they are not so great at highlighting a potential hire’s skills.

While academic achievements are useful for discovering the potential of a new employee, sometimes a business needs someone who already has competence in a skill instead of having to train them to do the job they’re being hired for. To help hiring managers find the right candidates, 12 experts from Forbes Human Resources Council share several proven strategies for evaluating a potential hire’s skill set before deciding to welcome them to the team.

Photos courtesy of the individual members

1. Hire The Person

We are primarily interested in assessing the candidate’s character, competency and cultural fit. Rather than focusing on experience lists, we want to know if the candidate will take initiative, solve problems and be a supportive member of our team. Do they understand who we are, what we do and why we do it? We ask open-ended scenario questions to invite candidates to share about themselves. – Courtney Pace, FedEx Employees Credit Assoc.

2. Proceed With Case-Based Interviews

Format interviews in a case-based model — present potential situations in front of a candidate and ask how they would approach solving it. Ask to see a justification of their thought process, as well as both written and verbal initial steps. With some roles it makes sense to make this an open book/open internet assessment to get a read on their ability to find the necessary information. – Rachel Lyubovitzky, EverythingBenefits

3. Conduct Candidate Assessments

Assessments provide insight into a candidate’s character, behavioral competence and work ethic. There are countless opportunities for different assessments based on your business and department needs. Assessments can also be easily implemented into the application process as well so the candidate experience stays on point! – Adam Mellor, ONE Gas, Inc.

4. Ask About Large Projects They Worked On

I like to ask questions about large projects that the candidates have owned. I ask how the project started, ended and key details throughout. I’m really looking for a thought process so I listen for how they share the story and how organized their thoughts are. I also listen for key accomplishments or learnings and how open they are to share when things weren’t perfect. – Diane Strohfus, Betterworks.com

5. Embrace Situational Interviewing

There is a great deal to be said about real-time situational interviewing. Particularly in strategic and collaborative roles, it is important to see how a person behaves on a team, solving a real issue in the environment. As a late-stage interview, decide on a real problem this person would be faced with, include them in on the team discussion and watch them work through a situation in real time. – Domini Clark, Blackmere Talent Acquisition, LLC

6. Assign Candidates A Project Or Task

Resumes are far from infallible, and seeing candidates complete a challenge or perform a task is more valuable than reading about it. Employers may take advantage of this by asking candidates to complete an assignment or project at the start of the application process. This not only creates a pool of knowledgeable, interested candidates, but reduces the number of resumes that need to be screened. – John Feldmann, Insperity

7. Offer Realistic Job Previews

I’ve found realistic job previews invaluable when it comes to getting a preview of how somebody is likely to perform “in real life.” I provide candidates with a brief case study relevant to the job they’re interviewing for and ask them to present their solution to members of our team. Our folks question them just as they would on the job. It’s a great tiebreaker when candidates seem closely matched. – Joyce Maroney, Kronos Incorporated

8. Target Real-World Applications Of Skills

Ask questions that are based on real-world application of the skills/knowledge the candidate would have to use, and consider their responses. Do this through behavioral or situational questions: “Here’s a problem, how would you approach it and solve it.” The answers are helpful, but you can also gauge based on what was missing. Don’t be afraid to focus on the outcomes first and work backward. – Melissa Anzman, bettHR

9. Hire For Impact

Remove the resume all together. Pilot or implement a model where recruiters submit a brief write-up to hiring managers that highlights skills and capabilities of candidates as it relates to the position. – Maximo Rocha, CSG Systems Inc

10. Talk To References, Align Expectations

Hiring managers can schedule calibration sessions with their interview teams to outline the skills required, agree on which questions each interviewer will focus on, and clearly define how candidates will be evaluated. Talk to former employers/managers/peers to really uncover the impact candidates have made and how they’ve worked to develop and learn new skills over time. – Shelli Nelson, Madison Industries

11. Hire For Attitude, Aptitude And Potential

Resumes usually consist of a list of skills and job responsibilities, and while a resume provides an entryway to an interview, it rarely provides insights into the best candidate for your role and your company. A better strategy, in this tight talent market, is to hire on attitude, aptitude and potential versus just on skill. Skills you can teach, but attitude, aptitude and potential you cannot. – Danielle Monaghan, Uber

12. Leverage AI To Eliminate Bias

HR is being transformed by AI and machine learning. Recruiting and assessment is one area that can transform the HR function. Identifying core skills or attributes, and then using AI can be highly effective. AI can take human bias out of the process, drill down and assess a skill consistently through chatbot methods, and can conduct thousands of assessments in seconds to determine a fit score. – Alvin Piket, Saudi Aramco





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