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6 Important Questions a Resume Alone Can’t Answer

African business woman looking for workers . She is unhappy with cv of applicants and throwing crumpled papers with resume applications on table

The common problem of overlooking qualified candidates often begins with the resume.

Recruiters, bogged down with too many open requisitions, sift through resumes to the best of their ability, throwing out the worst ones and presenting the remaining stack to the hiring manager to sift through as well. Hiring managers then pick the candidates of interest simply by looking at their resumes.

The reality is that each candidate typically receives, on average, a six-second glance at this piece of paper, and this determines whether he or she is fit for the job. Relying on a piece of paper to determine how well a candidate would perform can not only unfairly eliminate quality candidates, it can highlight the wrong fit for the role.

Consider the top six questions that cannot be answered by relying on resumes alone:

What is their career motivation?
While a resume can tell you where a candidate has worked, it cannot tell you why he or she stayed in that position for that long, and why they are considering moving on. Without knowing what motivates the candidate, how will a hiring manager know whether she is a good or bad fit for the company? How can the hiring manager promise to provide the same motivators that she had in the previous position?

Why did they leave?
As HR expert Liz Ryan points out, resumes can only tell you what jobs the candidate has held. It cannot tell you the circumstances in which the candidate left each position. Perhaps the candidate did not fit the workplace culture of the previous positions. In this case, how would a hiring manager know that the candidate would fit the workplace culture at their company?

What is their personality like?
While a resume can describe the hard skills that a candidate possesses, it cannot illustrate personality. Perhaps a candidate has all the necessary requirements to perform a particular job, but they cannot communicate well with others. This poses a clear problem in large business settings and in team projects, one that may not be detected on paper.

Can the candidate problem solve?
A candidate might have an outstanding resume, but can they be put into a situation where they need to use their creative and analytical thinking to problem solve? A quality candidate is self-sufficient and eager to confront issues thrown his or her way. Resumes provide little opportunity to identify these types of problem solving skills beyond the listed skill of “problem solver.”

Is the candidate a hard worker?
As simple as it sounds, a resume cannot tell you whether a candidate is a diligent performer. Although a candidate may possess all the necessary skills to perform a task, does he actually perform? While they may appear impressive on paper, resumes often cannot truly differentiate between skilled workers and careless or lazy workers.

How will the candidate react under pressure?
How will a candidate react when put in a stressful situation? Will they panic or approach it with level-headedness and poise? This cannot be determined from a resume alone but would require true behavioral based interviewing and conversation to determine their reactions based on previous experiences.

Relying too heavily on resumes can have detrimental consequences for hiring managers.

This is where a streamlined approach between the hiring manager, recruiter, and human resources professional can alleviate common issues with applicant review. Forming true professional relationships with candidates to learn about their skills, experience, personality, and attitude before presenting them to the hiring manager can be key to alleviating issues down the road.

In this way, the recruiter qualifies and then recommends viable candidates rather than handing the hiring manager a stack of resumes.

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