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How to spot resilience in a candidate

Increasingly complex working environments mean organisations want employees that are adaptable and resilient. But how can you spot these qualities in candidates? When hiring new talent, you may think technical prowess and interpersonal skills are all that matter. But in the stressful modern workplace, resilience is an increasingly sought-after skill.

So how can you ensure candidates have the resilience needed to succeed within your business? To help you find that all-important talent, we provide some unique insights.

Understand what you’re looking for

It may be one of the most in-demand qualities in employees, but it’s essential hiring managers understand what resilience is before being able to recognise it in candidates. Resilience is the ability to handle and recover quickly from difficulties in the workplace. Someone with resilience is always persevering with a ‘never-give up’ mindset.

An important resilience trait in employees is the ability to deal with uncertainty. Resilient professionals are also often able to prioritise strategically, and can manage short-term challenges that occur when striving towards long-term goals.

Don’t focus too much on a CV

It’s often the first port of call in any recruitment process, but when it comes to assessing a candidate’s resilience, a CV isn’t always that enlightening. It can be difficult to judge a candidate’s resilience through their CV. Don’t focus too heavily on an applicant’s experience or employment history when looking for this trait.

There are certain aspects of a CV that could highlight a resilient individual, such as length of service. A long tenure at a single organisation and multiple promotions could demonstrate that their professional success at work has been rewarded and they are likely to have shown resilience within that company.

Assess your expectations against the role

When recruiting new talent, hiring managers should tailor their expectations of the candidates for the role being filled – and that includes their resilience qualities. All roles at all levels will have their own unique challenges that require resilience. However, certain decision-making and leadership roles like CEO, senior management and team leader demand a strong focus on resilience so you should manage your expectations accordingly.

If these qualities are shown by a team leader or manager, it’ll also help inspire others to follow suit. A boss being resilient and teaching junior team members to not give up will likely inspire the entire team to put in the same level of effort and commitment.

Ask the right questions

The modern workplace is what’s known as a VUCA world (standing for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), and interviews are the best chance for hiring managers to assess how candidates would react to these challenges. You really want to understand how a candidate processes and reacts to emotions in the workplace. You need to ask the right questions during the interview to get these answers.

Hiring managers should ask about recent frustrations or failures candidates have encountered and how they’ve responded. For example, ask them to give you an example of when they were last angry, the situation surrounding that emotion, and how they responded. These kinds of questions should give you an authentic answer you can use to assess their resilience.

Look out for authenticity

Despite being essential in understanding an applicant’s experience and character, one of the most difficult things for hiring managers to assess is authenticity. When evaluating an applicant, you want to understand what they’ve actually done in their previous positions and what they’ve taken responsibility for, whether working alone or in a team.

It’s difficult to assess a candidate who simply reels off a list of practised examples, so you want to ask for specific detail. If facts don’t add up, or a candidate avoids giving any detail about their precise actions, it could mean that they’re exaggerating – which can leave you unsure what they’d actually bring to a role.

Give them a role-play

Hiring managers looking to better assess the qualities of candidates may choose to introduce new methodologies into their recruitment process. You can introduce a role-play situation into the interview procedure to measure this. Choose a challenging workplace situation – either one you’ve experienced or something fictitious – and have the candidate work through it to evaluate how they would respond in a real-life work environment.

A role-playing exercise will give you the best chance to assess how they’d fare in a real-life situation that requires a resilient outlook and nature. Focus on how they assess the situation and how they react. This can be invaluable in getting an insight into the candidate’s resilience.


More information?

Have a look at our other tips and advice or contact our team of consultants today.


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