How To Hire the Right Applicant Through All The Noise

It doesn’t matter how good a candidate looks on paper (or screen), what happens in the interview makes a bigger impact. We want to know how it feels to interact with these paper applicants to get a real feel of who they are and how they’ll work with others. That’s why the interview is often the tipping point for applicants.

And because we’re human, it’s natural to click with people who can instantly connect with others (and usually this happens more quickly with extroverts who are comfortable talking to pretty much anybody). Introverts who usually are nervous—and perhaps whose sentences don’t come out quite right—can get overlooked. Even if they’re the most qualified for the job.

One study done by UCLA (based on its own MBA students) showed that most people considered extroverts—those who stated they “liked to have people around [them]”—were considered better work contributors, while introverts—those who felt tense more often—were assumed to not contribute much. The long-term study showed that the extroverts actually contributed less than anticipated while the introverts contributed quite a bit more. So those applicants who stand out more in the interview may often be less effective than they make you believe—especially when it comes to a team setting.

Frankly, it’s hard to distinguish good “gut” feelings that arise from having an easy conversation with an applicant. Here are five questions to ask yourself about every applicant to make sure you’re choosing the right applicant—not just the most outgoing:

1. Is the candidate just nervous? Or is this applicant a socially awkward person who will make team members uncomfortable to work with? I think one of the most important things you can do to determine this is to get the applicant comfortable and relaxed. Offer the applicant a bottle of water; make sure the seating is comfortable. Then start off the conversation (note I said, “conversation” not interview) by asking some questions that aren’t related to the job or its function. Smile and make sure they know you’re interested in them as people, not just job fillers. After the interview, check references so you can learn how the applicant really functions in a workplace setting. Also, you can check out their profiles on social media to learn even more.

2. Is the position better suited for an introvert or extrovert? Let’s face it: Some jobs are more suited for different personalities. I think of developers as more introverted because they focus on writing code for long stretches. However, that doesn’t mean that someone who is extroverted can’t do the job. In the same vein, just because someone is more introverted, it doesn’t mean they can’t talk well with others. It just might take them some time to warm up. Consider the position but give yourself wiggle room.

3. Is the applicant a team player? Of course you want to hire someone who has the skills necessary to do the job, but you can never underestimate the power of teamwork. Being an effective member of a team trumps any individual work. How does the applicant refer to previous work? Does s(he) take all the credit and say “I did this” or does s(he) say “we” when referring to previously accomplished work? “Teamwork . . . is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

4. What kind of personality will complement the existing team? Really think about the people you have on the team already. Do you have a lot of the same type of personalities? Where do you see holes that need to be filled? If you have a team full of introverts, an extrovert might be your choice. “…the only way to create a team that’s worth more than the sum of its individual contributors is to select members on the basis of personality, soft skills, and values.” Which begs another question: Is this person also a good culture fit?

5. What is the applicant’s skill set? Skills tests don’t care whether people are extroverts or introverts; they tell you if the applicant has the right skills. That’s why they’re a great idea so you can look past all the noise to find out which applicants really know their stuff. You’ll still need to consider other factors, of course, but this is a great way to evaluate for skills.

“Extraverts and introverts each bring unique gifts to the workplace.” Remember, it’s about adding a contributing member to your team; rarely is an employee’s work a solo effort. These questions can help you keep it all in perspective when you need help choosing the right balance for your team.


Image: bigstock

Dare To Be Different: 5 Reasons Geeks Get Great Jobs

Written by Bree Brouwer

Do you think of yourself as a geek? If so, you’re not alone. A recent Modis “Geek Pride” survey found that more than 87% of Americans proudly identify with their inner nerd. If you’re among them, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that those characteristics can serve you well in a job hunt.

However, if you think you have to be a computer whiz or tech nerd to identify with geeks, think again. The “G” word now applies to anyone with a huge passion or interest of any sort, especially for comics, movies or video games.

This means that geek employees are already roaming the halls everywhere. And, since people enjoy working with colleagues who share similar interests, employers are likely to hire even more people with geek tendencies.

Note to non-geeks: If you never identified previously with this pack, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon and become more obsessive about whatever is on your list of personal and professional passions. This one change could make or break a job hunt.

But simply announcing “Hey! I’m a geek!” won’t land you a job or a promotion. You need to translate your geekiness into skills employers understand and appreciate. During interviews, focus on the following aspects of your personality. You’ll be well on your way to showing hiring managers that you’re one of the best candidates their organization could possibly choose.

5 Ways Your Geek Power Can Land You A Great Job

1) Your geekiness makes you an obsessive problem-solver
There’s not a single company that doesn’t have problems to solve — whether it’s their own, or their customers’, or both.

This is where geeks come in handy. You enjoy challenges and finding answers to problems. (More so with technical geeks, but also with the pop-culture-loving geeks, as well.)

If your geeky self tends to dig deep into work challenges, you’ll be valued for your persistence — which may not be as common in your non-geek coworkers. What company wouldn’t want to hire you for that?

2) You taught yourself more than you ever learned in school
No matter what your interests may be, if you’re a geek, you tend to be creative and experimental. Since you don’t learn via traditional methods or work via traditional processes, you tend to find ways to teach yourself.

Employers love creative self-starters, especially when you use that skill to solve their problems. For example, you might take a smartphone picture of your signed contract and send it via email instead of hunting down a paper envelope, a stamp and a mailing address. (And besides, it gets there faster, anyway.)

If you’re want to exercise your creativity, look for companies that are flexible and innovative in their mission and their process. A more traditional setting might stifle this special quality in you, so seek  environments that will benefit from your originality and resourcefulness.

3) You mastered work-life balance before it was even a “thing”
As a geek, you tend to want to make a life instead of a career. This means you’re less likely to be a workaholic who runs yourself down and reduces your quality of work.

But be careful not to become too dedicated to your “life” instead of your job. Realistic, optimistic geeks understand that to live a good life, meaningful work is a necessary and welcome component.

4) You’re flexible to change, diversity and new ways of learning
This mindset is tied closely to a geek’s creative nature. If an old approach doesn’t work for you or the problem at hand, you’re willing to toss it out the door and try something new. You’d rather learn from what Joss Whedon can teach you about business than what an experienced Wall Street guru has to say.

If a company is interested in workers with a little bit of daring and open-mindedness, you’re the ideal candidate. A geek is more willing to help a company grow, adapt and develop through alternative methods than some non-geek counterparts who may prefer to play it safe, and remain set in their ways.

5) You’ve got the drive to make a difference
What you do each day is not just all about you and your life. You want to contribute something greater to the world and make it a better place — whether that’s through the products you support or the way you live your life. (“Yep, this Superman shirt is 100% organic cotton!”)

It’s likely that if you’re a geek working for a company in the business of changing lives, you’ll feel passionate about that company’s goals, services and products.

Of course, not all geeks are created equal. And not all companies can handle having lots of geeks onboard (and vice versa). As mentioned above, geeks work best in innovative companies.

However, you’re also a huge force to be reckoned with in the workplace. So when you’re applying for jobs, fly that geek flag high and make sure you apply to companies that not only provide professional growth, but also gladly welcome your special character within their culture. Let us know what your discover on your unconventional path!

Bree Brouwer(About the Author: Bree Brouwer is a freelance blogger and content strategist who writes for, a Canadian-based online retailer full of nerdy goods. Bree and the staff at FG love helping geeks get paid to do what they’re passionate about. Connect with Bree on Twitter or LinkedIn.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is republished from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome for events, or to join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Finding Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent #TChat Preview

(Editorial Note: Are you looking for a full review of the week’s #TChat events and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: “It’s All Good: Employees Are People Too.”)

Positivity in the workplace. It may sound like a worthy goal, but what does it really mean for business? Is it a “secret sauce” that leads to employee engagement and effectiveness? Or is it overrated as a path to peak performance?

Humans At Work: Good, Bad And Ugly

No one is perpetually happy and upbeat. We all have a dark side — the never-ready-for-primetime part of our persona that doesn’t fit ideal workplace expectations. But when we’re less than 100%, how can we still bring our best selves to work? And if we’re not fully engaged, how long can we expect to sustain great results?

Imagine if the key to unleashing workforce potential started with celebrating each of us as we truly are — including characteristics that may be considered counterproductive. What if we felt free to express emotions like anger, fear, depression and grief in the workplace? Could that kind of authenticity lead to better performance?

Let’s Talk About Talent — The “Total Package”

This week at #TChat events, we’re talking about the consequences of “bringing your whole self to work” — for better or worse. Leading the way as our guests are two of the HR community’s best-known and admired commentators:

John Sumser, founder and editor-in-chief of HR Examiner. John is also an HR industry analyst who serves as principal at Two Color Hat.

William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy, Tincup & Co. William is recognized as a leading thinker and advisor on HR technology adoption and social media use in HR.

I had a chance to sit down briefly with John, as he explained the importance and sensitivity surrounding this topic. Watch the G+ Hangout now, and I’m sure it will strike a chord, no matter what your role or history may be in the world of work:

This week’s #TChat promises to be an eye-opening discussion for talent-minded professionals everywhere. So please join us, and bring your ideas, questions, examples and concerns!

#TChat Events: Exploring The Dark Side of Workplace Effectiveness

#TChat Radio — Wed, Oct 2 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT


Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with William Tincup and John Sumser, about why and how to embrace employees as complete, unique personalities. Follow the action online, and dial-in LIVE with your feedback and questions!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Oct 2 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll move the discussion to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will lead an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Anyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these questions:

Q1: Why are positive workplaces so hard to maintain? Should we keep pushing?
Q2: How can we bring our “whole selves” to work, even if we don’t feel whole?
Q3: Can business leaders develop stronger organizations by letting go of control?
Q4: If culture is the software of business, where does transparency fit in?
Q5: What technologies help business transform emotional power into insight and results?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stuart Pilbrow via Flickr