One of the key traits we were looking for were attention to detail and the ability to take constructive criticism well. So we asked the applicant to send a beautifully designed resume. One of our best applicants on paper sent us a fine resume. He had a background in criminology. He was an engineer, who knew how to make financial modeling and was fluent in both French and Dutch.
We also received a beautifully designed resume by an applicant with no relevant work experience and who described her own Dutch proficiency as “survival level.” But you could really tell by the way she designed her resume that she took the time to make something beautiful, which meant she took our task seriously.
During the interview process, we made both applicants perform tasks that were going to be part of their daily responsibilities. They both performed them well, but she did it with more gusto. When we asked them how they liked the assignment, our more qualified applicant looked professional but reserved.
Some decision makers weren’t convinced that she was the right fit for the company simply because she didn’t fit the profile that we drafted from an abstract vision of what we wanted. One of them claimed we had only asked them to do simple tasks. What if one of her job duties was less enjoyable for her? He inquired if she had ever done anything in her other job that she didn’t like. The applicant, who had previously worked for a movie theatre, responded that she often had to scrape chewing gum off the bottom of chairs and clean up vomit.
We strongly believed she would make a fine candidate if she could get her Dutch to a professional level so we gave her a provisional position with the possibility of a fixed position if she became fluent in Dutch in a year’s time. Not only did she reach our required level of Dutch in six months, but she exceeded our expectations for the job as well.
Our hire ended up being the best addition to our team because she had the right mindset for the position. Someone with a higher level of experience might have needed less of an adjustment, but there is no substitute for drive.