Assessing Candidate Adaptability…
Author Image
Gabriella Steed

In the ever-evolving landscape of business and technology and the surge of popularity towards working within a start-up environment, the profiles that companies seek to hire have undergone a massive shift. Covid-19, forecasted recessions, rising inflation rates, and increasing challenges to retain the best talent, all form as catalysts to motivate employers to rethink their approach to hiring and talent management. Where degrees, career history and job titles were once indicative of whether an individual would excel within a particular role, there is now more focus on the skills a job requires and the skills a candidate has to match these requirements. Here we’re referring to both hard and soft skills; a set of skills a candidate possess through knowledge and experience, easier to assess, as well as interpersonal/people skills lending itself to the ability to communicate effectively, lead and problem-solve, for example.

Amongst those all-important soft skills, we are now seeing a new imperative. That being adaptability. Employers, especially those within the start-up space are now seeking candidates who demonstrate the ability to adapt, successfully navigate uncertainty, embrace change, and rapidly acquire new skills to withstand a changing organisational ecosystem.

But how do we assess adaptability? How can talent teams be set up for success to ensure their potential hires are able to effectively navigate ambiguity, embrace change and possess a growth mindset? Here’s how!

  1. Behavioural interviewing for the win!

Talent teams need to start thinking strategically about how best to assess whether or not a candidate will crack under the pressure of an ever-changing environment. It’s important to tailor questioning around previous experiences where the candidate may have had to overcome unexpected challenges. Responses can reveal an individual’s mindset and approach to adaptability.

For example;

Can you share an instance where you faced unexpected changes in your work environment or project goals? How did you handle these changes and what steps did you take to adapt?

Describe a situation where you were assigned a task or project outside of your usual scope. How did you feel about this challenge, and what steps did you take to conquer and accomplish it?

Tell me about a difficult deadline you had to meet with regards to hiring. Were there any unexpected obstacles that arose during the process? How did you manage your time and resources to ensure success?

Always ask candidates how the experience made them feel. You want to understand whether they approached the experience with positivity or whether they show signs of feeling overwhelmed or potentially cracking under the pressure. This line of questioning will uncover the candidate’s ability to demonstrate key indicators required for adaptability.

  1. Craft problem-solving scenarios and assess the response

Again, within an ever-changing organisational ecosystem, it’s more likely than not for employees to be required to solve complex problems. For example, imagine a start-up that has experienced rapid growth due to its innovative product. This success has led to a surge in demand for hiring across various business units. The talent team is now tasked with recruiting a considerable number of new employees in a short period to support the expansion. Potential problems? Volume vs quality, resource constraints, candidate experience, cultural fit, scalable processes etc.

Presenting candidates with hypothetical, realistic scenarios that require them to solve problems or respond to sudden changes will allow you to observe how they analyse the situation, propose solutions, and adjust strategies based on evolving circumstances!

  1. Assess agility!

Think about including questions that will yield a response indicative of how well the potential candidate can pick up new skills outside of their comfort zone to adapt to change.

For example;

Have you worked in an environment where the industry trends or technologies were rapidly evolving? How did you stay updated and ensure your skills remained relevant and valuable?

Do you have an example of a time when you sought out learning opportunities outside of your job responsibilities? How did this additional knowledge contribute to your overall effectiveness in your role?

The shift from a narrow focus on credentials and career history to a broader emphasis on adaptability is 100% reshaping the hiring landscape. Companies are now recognising that the ability to adapt and withstand the pressures of a changing environment transcends the perfect career history one may have or the qualifications they may possess. By assessing candidates’ adaptability during the hiring process, organisations can ensure they are bringing in individuals who are prepared to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. Adaptability no longer stands as a desirable trait – it’s a necessity. As businesses continue to innovate, the employees who thrive will be those who can evolve alongside them. And this all starts with assessing candidates appropriately. 

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, contact me on [email protected]

Gabriella is a MSc graduate in Clinical Psychology from London, who has worked within the Recruitment and Talent Acquisition industry for 5 years. Topics of interest surround Global Talent Trends including but not limited to Company Culture, the Candidate Experience, Diversity and Inclusion, Employee Well-being and many more! Gabriella holds a deep interest into Psychology and Human behaviour and how these can be best applied to the world of work.

Alderson James is a specialist recruiting agency working in the Talent Acquisition, HR and People Operations space. We work with VC-Backed Start-ups and Scaleups across Technology, Media, Life Sciences/Health, Ecommerce, Energy, Mobility, Finance and Banking – as well as a selection of Global Brands.

This website uses cookies to offer you a better experience and analyse site traffic. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.