Are You Hiring Resilient Candidates?

There will be days you love your job. Boss brought in Qdoba, client phones with high acclaim and you got paid. The way we know and appreciate glory days such as these, is because we have experienced the lows. The ‘get-me-out-from-under-this-dark-cloud’ everything is going horrendously wrong, car crash armageddon of a day. 

Bouncing back from back-breaking blunders and not quitting on the spot is called resilience. And if you’re not hiring for resilience in your organization, you’re behind.


Merriam-webster defines re·sil·ience (n) as the ability to become strong your candidates has this trait before tested? Start with the interview.

True Grit

One of the eternal top interview questions is, ‘What are your weaknesses?’ I get it. Hiring managers and recruiters want to know the red flags before they are discovered post onboard. Everyone has faults but it’s not very likely that the candidate will single out their true weaknesses, or the ones that you need to know. Wouldn’t you rather know how a candidate can overcome weaknesses and difficulty instead of identifying them? 

A sure way to tell if a candidate has resilience is to ask questions about failures in their past life. Something like, “Tell me about a time where you were given a task without the necessary skills or knowledge to complete.” Another example, “Tell me about a time where you epically messed up.” If they answer with things like: honest and prompt ownership, follow up with managers or clients and putting the situation to rights, you’re off to a good start.

Risky Business

Employees make mistakes every day. The employees who jump in, not afraid of screwing up and constantly erasing boundaries are the change-makers in your organization. Don’t stay stagnant with employees who routinely complete tasks day-in and day-out without putting in any thought. Invigorate your company with the resilient employees who take risks, push the envelopes and learn from their mistakes. Those are the ones you want to populate your team.

“Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.”  – Mark Zuckerberg

Back on the Horse

According to CareerBuilder, the #1 soft skill companies look for is a strong work ethic. That’s great, but let’s not forget the importance of sticking through a demanding task, even in the face of certain failure. Resilience means an employee who does not give up and returns to the straight and narrow, having learned from the wild terrain. Start hiring for resilience to build a stronger team.

Bio: Ryan Mead

Ryan Mead is the CEO and Founder of Vitru, an employee assessment tool that provides recruiters, hiring professionals, coaches and managers with the insights they need to manage their teams and make better hiring decisions. Powered by science, yet practical and easy to use for a variety of teams, Vitru work for organizations of all size. Want to learn more? Visit our blog or sign up for a free team building personality test account to assess your team today! Tweet me at@GoVitru

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Comment by Katrina Kibben on November 5, 2015 at 11:37am

What's your favorite question to get a sense of work ethic?

Mine is: What did you do next when you failed? I also tend to get a good sense for work ethic based on vocabulary (determined, focused, goals, etc). 


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