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From CV to Interview: Bringing in the Right Talent

Mar 5, 2020 | 11m

Gain Actionable Insights Into:

  • Streamlining the process of shortlisting CVs for interviews
  • Hiring candidates who are most likely to make an impact on your company
  • Leading an interview that will bring out the most insights about each candidate


Choose Concise and Impactful CVs

Recruiting is no easy task. Your inbox is probably flooded with potential candidates who are vying for an open position in your company, and it can get quite overwhelming to receive and review so many CVs. As a recruiter, your job is to sift through potential candidates, analyse their backgrounds and skills, and determine if they will be an asset to the company.

When you hire someone, you are essentially placing your trust in them to represent your company well regardless of their level of seniority. For the first step of the hiring process, you only have a piece of paper to determine if this candidate is worth your time. How should you choose the right person?

Because recruiting is among many other responsibilities, time is of the essence. Reading through every CV that lands in my inbox is simply out of the question. So, I tend to gravitate towards CVs that are short, ideally those that land within one page.

The main purpose of a CV is for the candidate to share their work experience and the impact that their work had on the company. CVs that are concise tend to focus on the most important aspects of the candidate’s background, which will give you an idea of what the candidate has to offer.

Some CVs appear to show an extensive background and multiple positions, but the candidate may not have presented the impact of their work. To me, this implies that they want to be told what to do. They want to follow a program instead of taking initiative to make things happen.

Recruiters always want to hire someone who will bring life to a position and take initiative. Nobody wants a robot who waits for commands. So, keep an eye out for candidates who present projects that made an impact on their company. These people are leaders in the making.

Obviously, no one would explicitly express that they took initiative on a project. So, how can you recognize if someone went outside of their comfort zone and stepped up to do something out of their volition?

I recently received a very impactful CV. In three main points, this candidate clearly stated what she did in her previous position. These three statements contained strong verbs that detailed her roles and tasks. Within the next two lines, the candidate defined her role, projects, and impact of her work.

I was excited about this candidate because this CV portrayed someone who does not add fluff or jargon to make her sound unnecessarily skillful. Instead, she presented herself clearly and chose verbs that illustrate her work and impact on the company. She also presented hard data to show how her work evidently affected the company for the better.

CVs that use a lot of clichéd phrases and words are essentially a waste of time. Everyone can use words like “passionate” or “enthusiastic”, but it does not clearly show the skills you possess and the impact you have made in your previous roles. Always look for CVs that highlight relevant contributions and back these up with numbers.

Lengthy CVs tend to include unnecessary jargon that may only end up confusing you. Steer clear from any CV that appears to be a copy-and-paste project from another generic CV. Instead, choose CVs that paint a clear picture of who the candidate is, what the person has done, and what they could potentially offer to your company.

As for work background, it may seem logical to hire someone who has worked in a very established company because the candidate would have been formally trained in many areas for their field of work. However, I usually prefer to hire someone who comes from a start-up company or someone who has worked on new initiatives/projects because this requires the candidate to problem-solve in a realistic setting where formal systems may not already be present.

Dig a Little Deeper

In addition to CVs, LinkedIn is a great resource that can reveal a lot about a candidate’s work experience and business connections. For CVs that provide a LinkedIn link, it may be worth checking out the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and connections to get a broader perspective of the candidate’s background.

However, while on LinkedIn, ignore the recommendations that appear on the candidate’s profile page. On LinkedIn, some people may be “forced” into writing a recommendation for a colleague or a friend, so it may not be very sincere. I usually ignore LinkedIn recommendations and rely more on formal recommendation letters and reference check calls.

It is also worth noting candidates who care to establish context. For example, a candidate may say, “I saw your CNBC interview and connected to what you said about this or that. I am reaching out to you because…” Candidates who reach out with intent usually want to make an impact, but they may not necessarily know where they fit in our company.

Such a candidate stands out to me because they would have done their research about our company, our values, and mission and decided that they want to make an impact through our company. I am more than happy to review their skills and work experience to determine where their passion for impact can truly make a difference in our company.

Focus on Well-Crafted CVs and Skillful Candidates

When candidates are applying for multiple jobs in a short period of time, it may be easy for them to overlook silly mistakes in their CVs and applications. Although I can sympathise with this a little, silly mistakes indicate that the candidate is careless and does not really care to take an extra minute or two to check the CV and application for typos and silly errors.

Silly mistakes do not only reflect poor typing accuracy; they point towards a candidate who is not meticulous in her work and does not care enough about the job to make the extra effort of proof-reading. Hiring a candidate like this could end up being a waste of time and resources.

On the other hand, there are candidates who are willing to go above and beyond to present themselves in such a manner that will blow you away. I once received an application that included a well-produced video, which presented the candidate’s work, background, and experience. This extra effort showed me that he really cared about presenting himself in a manner that would stand out among other applicants.

While you may experience both extremes of candidates who definitely should not be shortlisted and those who should, there are also candidates who may not give you enough to make a decision one way or the other. Perhaps this candidate has some skills but does not come from the expected industry.

In the past, when I was on the fence about a candidate, I consulted my colleagues for their opinions. For one of these candidates, I was concerned that he might not fit the role and scale up because he did not come from the same industry.

However, after discussing it with my colleagues, I decided to give him a chance. It turned out that he was a quick learner and was actually able to provide a different perspective for the role because he came from a different industry and applied first principles to problem solving.

Although this aspect of decision-making may not always apply to all cases, it may be worth considering what a candidate could bring to the table even though they come from a different industry. For example, someone who worked in telemarketing but applies for a social media marketing role can bring a whole new perspective and also grow from a different challenge.

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Sunil Kamath

Former Chief Business Officer




Hiring & Firing