While technical skill requirements might differ from industry to industry, there are some qualities and attributes all industries need in their employees. As more and more industries enter a state of flux, with new technologies and new business needs, hiring criteria seem to be changing too.
We took a close look at the hiring trends and interviews of some of the strongest and the most aspirational employer brands around the world. There are certainly overlaps like collaboration, leadership, and team building skills. But beyond generic personality traits, here’s what the top employer brands and their hiring managers are looking for.
Show, don’t tell
Consistently ranked as one of the top employer brands around the world in almost every study published on the topic, it is not surprising that Google has unique needs and hiring processes. The company’s former SVP of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, has shared, “The goal of our interview process is to predict how candidates will perform once they join the team. We achieve that goal by doing what the science says: combining behavioural and situational structured interviews with assessments of cognitive ability, conscientiousness, and leadership.”
According to Laszlo, hiring managers in Google are discouraged from asking the cliched, time-inefficient questions like “tell us about your strengths and weaknesses”. Instead, Google asks for examples from past experience in skills that the candidate is going to need in his potential role in Google. For example, “Tell me about a time your behaviour had a positive impact on the team” or “Tell me about a time you effectively managed a team to achieve an ambitious goal. What did the approach look like?”
Know thy technology, and not just if you are a coder
Bankers have been all about the money for the longest time. Astute financial skills were once enough, but that seems to be changing, according to JP Morgan Chase. Like every other industry, technology is changing banking and finance too. JP Morgan Chase, a top employer in the finance industry, is ensuring that its workforce is ready to meet the new requirements of a tech-guided world, along with developing the ability to look at customers not just as “investors” but as long-term relationships.
According to the company’s HR Head John L Donnelly, “As our customers in the consumer bank evolve, and as simple transactions continue to migrate to digital, we are looking for more tech-savvy, complex issue resolution and relationship-oriented bankers.”
The ability to invent the future
For technology companies as well as others who want to ride the change – or rather, invent this change – hiring people who can meet an ambitious vision of the future becomes not only crucial but also very, very difficult. But it is a job that must be done.
Verizon is one such company that is at the forefront of technology-led change. According to Senior Vice President and Chief Talent and Diversity Officer Magda Yrizarry, these skills are hard to define, and sometimes, businesses actually need people who invent these skills themselves. To find people who can fulfil the company’s 5G ambitions, Magda shared, “You hire people who have in the past been able to bend the curve on technology. They may not have bent the curve on 5G, but they were able to create iterations of technologies like IoT or cybersecurity. So you have a confidence that they are not beholden to the past, that they can create the future.”
Fresh, diverse perspectives
Diversity and inclusion have become the core of hiring policies in top companies around the world. This is not entirely a reputation or branding need or a charitable one. It has proven to be great for business too, thanks to new perspectives and fresh ideas that can come from people who bring diverse backgrounds, life and professional experiences, and even social conditioning.
Visa too is cognizant of this and is making special efforts to find diverse talent. According to the company’s Executive Vice President of HR Michael Ross, “One area in the hiring process that has changed is our increased focus on diversity and inclusion, which has greatly influenced our hiring strategy. You’ve got to go where the talent is.”
Being fast and right, all at once
Amazing change and successful businesses are built on the back of a workforce not only being right and intuitive most of the time but also fast enough to adapt to change and make the most of it quickly. This becomes even more important in our time when technologies and consumers change rapidly and trends rise and fall in a matter of days.
One company that understood the need for fast-paced change from the get-go and made it a crucial value to live by was Facebook. The company’s motto in its first decade was “Move Fast & Break Things”, implying that mistakes were alright as long as the company was riding on fast-paced change. The company changed its hacker mindset in 2014 to “move fast on stable infra”.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, this is a crucial attribute for business growth, “When you build something that you don’t have to fix 10 times, you can move forward on top of what you’ve built. These are real changes that we’re making so people can rely on us as a critical infrastructure for building all their apps across every mobile platform.”
While Facebook engineers are still expected to experiment, they also need to test and analyze their experiments on smaller groups of users anywhere between 10,000 to 50,000 in size. As Mark puts it, “At any given point in time, there isn’t just one version of Facebook running, there are probably 10,000. Any engineer at the company can decide they want to test something. There are some rules on sensitive things but in general, an engineer can test anything.”
It seems clear that the rules of engagement – both on the employees’ end and the employers’ – are changing. Cliched questions and answers are out of the window and new skills, new personality traits are being tested as businesses continue to build workplaces of the future. Employees are going to have to change the way they look at their relationships with work, and continuous learning – of both skills and personality traits – is going to be the only way to stay meaningfully employed – and more importantly, relevant – in the job market.
On the flip side, startups and employers can no longer count on “being cool” as the sole criteria for retaining talent. The onus is on organisations too to look beyond fancy offices and gimmicks and focus on skill development, personal brand building, greater diversity, and more to create an environment that encourages employees to give their best to help companies grow and develop.
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