Madeline Skaggs hangs out with Chicago’s top headhunters and in-house recruiters to hear about their tricks, their trade, and what it takes to get a job at companies like LinkedIn, Dyson and Edelman. This week, she sits down with Vivian Faria, director of operations for Hudson Recruitment Process Outsourcing.
If you’ve made it to Faria’s office, it’s pretty clear that you’ve got the basic skills she’s looking for. But so does everyone else she interviews. “If I’m looking for an IT guy, they all know the system, but how much do they know the system,” Faria says. “So the ‘how’ is what makes them different.” That’s when the intersection between soft skills and hard skills comes into play. One example Faria gives is a candidate who was so versed in a system, that he was informally training others on the team. “That’s a differential. Not only the person knows, but he’s sharing knowledge and it’s then beyond what I’m looking for, that could be a differential,” she says.
“What was the most significant experience that they had and why?” And no, she’s not looking for the haiku you wrote about that time you watched the sunrise at Burning Man. “How did you contribute to the team, what did you add? Other than the job description, how did you make a difference?” What was important to you then will likely be important to you now. “It gives me information on what motivates them and what drives them,” Faria says. So if working with a great boss was significant in your last job, a role with little one-on-one development might not work out so well.
“Each person prioritizes something different and it changes according to their moment in life,” Faria says. “I want to know, what is your moment in life? What is your priority, what is important for you right now?” Are you looking to set down roots, climb the corporate ladder or be home for your newborn? Answers to those questions help Faria separate the right from the right now. Even if a candidate says they’re willing to amend their priorities, Faria says that compromise only lasts so long. “There are times that I think, this person could be a fit, but in the long term they could be frustrated,” she says.
Body language is obviously key when it comes to selling yourself in an interview. For Faria, it offers a window into candidates’ perception of themselves, which often isn’t terribly accurate. It raises concerns “when the person is sitting kind of too relaxed and suddenly they’re telling you that they’re very agile, they’re very quick, they’re very dynamic, and what you’re looking [at] is very different.” If a gulf yawns between a candidate’s words and their body language, it’s hard for Faria to feel confident in what they’re saying.