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People on Paper Are Not People in Person When Interviewing

by Beth Deison Smith

posted in Business

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The single most beautiful resume I have ever seen was written by a woman who stood up at the end of the interview and screamed at my 7 person interview team while banging her fist on the table "I AM NOT FINISHED TELLING YOU ABOUT MYSELF!!!" We had her escorted off the property by security.
The system of screening candidates is backwards in today's world of hiring. We spend time within the application process by meticulously reviewing resumes for keywords, past experience, typos and hard skills when we are really better off spending our time in the interviewing process listening to the candidates. Then why don't we spend more time interviewing?
The biggest factor is that our culture has told us we can effectively screen people by reading resumes, specifically by placing emphasis in skills, format and detail orientation. I am here to report, you cannot find great employees in this manner. A resume is simply a marketing piece for the candidate to ensure an interview. Imagine if a sales person brought you a brochure and you read the fine print. You would ask yourself "What is the catch?" If interested, you would call the salesperson and ask questions, but you wouldn't take the marketing piece at face value right? So why do we in screening resumes?
People on paper aren't the same as people in person. Randy Smith, one of our resident resume screeners, says that the better someone looks on paper, the worse they are in person. And you know what? He's right. after conducting thousands of interviews over the past 8 years, we rarely find a candidate that is fantastic on paper and in person.
Instead try going in blind to an interview without looking at resumes of the candidates you are interviewing. Then examine them after the interview process is complete. I hear reports that not looking at resumes before an interview actually let hiring managers focus on the person in front of them. They listen to the candidate, answer basic questions and the candidate gets a more genuine experience with the company. Screening of resumes is really only done initially for a few core requirements, then looked at in more detail once you have decided to actually schedule an interview with a candidate.
My best advice is to spend your time interviewing, not reviewing resumes in order to find your next best employee. You will be amazed at the difference it makes in finding the ideal person for the job.
About the Author: We do so much more than recruit. We give you the system for interviewing and finding great employees. Contact A-list Interviews at to learn more.
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