Going beyond CVs when growing your team

CVs and interviews

When hiring new employees, the list of qualities needed in a candidate usually goes something like this: proactive, ambitious, a team player, self-managing, driven and displays leadership skills. Yet even when candidates seem to demonstrate these qualities, they may not be right for your team. So how do you find the perfect fit?

Traditional recruitment processes have long used CVs as a way of shortlisting candidates for interview, as it tells you about their past experiences and successes. But the things that make someone the right person for the job – and able to succeed in your organisation – can’t be discerned from a piece of paper.

It’s therefore up to recruiters and HR managers to identify blind spots on a CV and explore them when interviewing candidates. Below we give our tips on what you should be looking for during the interview process.

1) Cultural fit

How a candidate fits within your organisation’s culture is extremely important, as if there is a mismatch it can cause a friction within teams that is detrimental to the success of projects they work on together.

Identifying a cultural fit starts with understanding what your company culture is – that is, the values that are fundamental to the way in which your organisation works. At Wisembly we look for team players who are expressive about their opinions and embrace the idea of ‘work hard, play hard’. We’ve built a culture that is based on open communication and hard work, and we all come together to celebrate each other’s successes every Friday over beers.

The right candidate will have beliefs and values that are aligned with that of your company’s, so you need a clear understanding of what those are and look out for the qualities that tick those boxes.

2) Future potential

It’s easy to think that past success is a good indicator of how someone will perform in the future, but there are many things that contribute to a person’s success within a role.

For example, a candidate might have done really well within a large organisation where there were lots of processes and well-defined job roles, but how will they do in a startup where everyone has to ‘get their hands dirty’ and there is a flatter management structure? (Or vice versa.)

Similarly, just because they haven’t had the right past experience, doesn’t mean that they won’t excel in your company. Ultimately, what someone has done in the past is not the same as what they are capable of achieving.

Spotting potential is all about looking at how self-aware the candidate is: if they understand their strengths and weaknesses, and where they see their opportunities to grow. Don’t just talk to them about the role that they are going into, but about where they want to be in the future and how they plan to get there.

3) Patience profile

Employees have a much wider purpose than just ‘doing a job’. Every person is working towards a specific goal or objective for the company, and persistence is often key to success. In a large corporation, this might be navigating silos, bureaucratic processes and inside politics, while for startups it’s the sheer length of time it takes to turn an idea into a viable product with limited resources.

Ask your candidate about examples where they have been most persistent in the face of adversity, and when they have felt the most energised at work. Different types of roles and organisations will require a different type of patience profile, so you need to consider whether the person will be able to stay motivated in the role you are hiring into.

Hiring the right people is fundamental to your company’s success, so it’s crucial to look beyond a person’s CV when growing your team. Some advice even goes as far as to suggest that we should get rid of them altogether!

Unfortunately, CVs do still provide recruiters an easy way to remove candidates from the potential pool, so understanding their shortcomings is the first step to making better hiring decisions. Look at successes and mistakes made in previous hires, comparing them to the CVs provided if you can, and try and identify any patterns or biases that keeping coming up.

Most importantly, make sure you understand the things that really matter for your team so you focus on whether the candidate is the right fight for the job, rather than just on what they’ve done previously.


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