One of the most frustrating aspects of creating a resume or answering interview questions is tailoring the content to your prospective employer.
While you certainly know your own skills, abilities and personality traits, it’s hard to be sure what to put on your resume and share in your interview, and what you should downplay. Worse still, emphasizing some skills and traits to one employer can score you a job, while highlighting the exact same skills and traits to another employer might just cost you a position. Even researching common interview questions and how to answer them doesn’t help, since two separate employers can react differently to the same answer.
As one Reddit user shares about two recent interviews, “In the first interview, I brought up a piece of my background, and the interviewer loved it and thought it was so important that he told me off the record that I should always say that in any job interview I ever do. I brought it up in the second interview, and the interviewer was visibly annoyed and I could tell I lost points for bringing the same exact thing up.”
So how can you get past the subjectivity of each employer’s tastes and preferences to make sure your strengths truly shine through and you are hired for the job?
Get a job through networking or informational interviews
While applying to jobs online is one of the most popular approaches to the hiring process these days, it’s also the most daunting for job seekers unsure of what to add to their resume or cover letter. If you apply to a job through an online job board, or end up being contacted by a recruiter for an interview, you likely know no one who actually works at the job. This puts you at a serious disadvantage, leaving you in the dark about the personality or preferences of your interviewer.
Networking with your personal connections or setting up informational interviews are some of the most effective alternatives to the online job search. Once you chat with people who already work at the job, you will gain a much better idea of what the employer is looking for, what to put on your resume and how to adjust your answers to interview questions.
The Muse gives this advice for informational interviews: “If you are meeting with someone who has close ties to a company where you’re dying to get a job, try asking: ‘Do you have any advice for how I can stand out as a candidate?’ ”
Try a new hiring platform
Geekbidz is a new direct-to-hire job platform that invites job seekers (called “Geeks” in the Geekbidz system) to participate in an online skills ranking system. It uses AI to quantify and rank the skills of job seekers, and then pairs employers with the candidate most qualified for the open position.
Geekbidz avoids the frustrating, subjective resume and interview process completely. When a candidate is matched with their job opening, an employer can invite that candidate to a direct on-the-job evaluation.
Since both resumes and interviews are always evaluated in a very subjective way during the hiring process, despite employers’ best intentions, why not try this innovative hiring solution, which involves no interview or resume?
Choose the most objective ways of conducting the job application and interview process
When you’re in the middle of the hiring process, check if there are any other requirements besides simply submitting a resume. If your potential employer offers a skills assessment test, it will help counterbalance the subjectivity of the resume review.
According to the Harvard Business Review, these tests, which can include measurements of “competence, work ethic and emotional intelligence,” can stop interviewers “from accepting or rejecting candidates on the basis of conscious or unconscious biases.”
If you do end up also having to answer interview questions, you can still do your best to make sure the interview is as free from bias as possible.
For example, before your interview, ask whether the interview will be primarily structured or unstructured. The Harvard Business Review argues that to eliminate bias, “Companies should rely on a structured interview that standardizes the process among candidates, eliminating much subjectivity. These interviews pose the same set of questions in the same order to all candidates, allowing clearer comparisons between them.”
Try Creative Ways of Overcoming Inevitable Subjectivity in the Hiring Process
As the Reddit user in the beginning of this article wrote, “There are things you shouldn't put on your resume and there are things that you shouldn't say in an interview. But past that, a lot of resume and interview advice boils down to personal preference.” Since personal preference is such a frustrating but significant part of the way employers evaluate candidates, why not branch out and try some less conventional hiring solutions? From focusing more on networking and informational interviews, to trying a new hiring solution, to choosing more objective job application methods, there are a number of creative ways to avoid subjective interview questions and endless worries about what to put on a resume.