Make Sure You’re Able to Do This One Thing When Applying for a Job

By: Kelly Meissner on February 17th, 2017

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Make Sure You’re Able to Do This One Thing When Applying for a Job

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Resumes and interviews aren’t enough to showcase your potential

Have you ever been frustrated by the task of squeezing your whole job history and all your career aspirations onto one piece of paper? Then even if your resume makes the cut, you have the challenge of making a good impression on your potential boss in just a few minutes during an interview.

Let’s think for a moment about these tools that form the foundation of nearly every hiring process. The resume is thought to be a 500-year-old document invented by Leonardo da Vinci. It hasn’t changed a whole lot since then, plus employers know that details on resumes can be easily be faked (not that you would try anything like that… right?).

Then there’s interviews. The unstructured interview, which has been the most widely used candidate selection process for more than a century, has been discredited as a deeply flawed method, though hiring managers still cling to it.

So if these two aren’t necessarily great ways to demonstrate your potential as a candidate, is there a better way to showcase your skills and abilities? Research suggests there is.

The Problem With Interviews

You see, interviews have a problem: a people problem. Google’s head of people operations, Laszlo Bock, gave a good example of the issue in an interview with The New York Times.

He explained how Google had conducted a study of tens of thousands of interviews to compare how interviewers had scored candidates during the hiring process with those same candidates’ eventual job performance and found “zero relationship.” In other words, no one’s particularly effective at judging how good of an employee another person will be—they tend to rely too much on intuition and their own preconceived notions about potential hires.

Another New York Times article on bias in hiring puts it more bluntly: “Humans just aren’t that good at hiring.”

The Problem With Resumes

Interviews aside, resumes have their own issues when it comes to accurately and fairly representing yourself as a candidate. Employers will often focus on certain keywords that match the job description or details in your educational background—in other words, having the right “credentials,” regardless of your actual ability to do the job.

Anthony Phillips, the CEO of coding bootcamp Hack Reactor, thinks this should change. He claims he doesn’t look at resumes and instead focuses on gauging candidates’ ability to perform the core tasks of their job:

“We very much challenge the value of credentials in general, and we promote the value of ability. . . . You need to find the thing you actually need people to do, get them to do it, and figure out relatively who’s doing the better job. That’s the person you hire.”

Skill Testing: A Better Way to Demonstrate Your Value as an Employee

Skill testing or work sample tests that resemble the kind of tasks you would be doing on the job have been shown to be the best predictor of job performance — even compared to traditionally emphasized qualifications like years of work experience or unstructured interview results — as Laszlo Bock explains in his book Work Rules.

Ernst & Young (EY) recently came to a similar conclusion when its UK office conducted an 18-month study of its candidate screening process. The analysis revealed that, while academic records had no correlation to job performance, pre-employment tests that evaluate applicants’ skills and strengths provided “a robust and reliable indicator of a candidate’s potential to succeed in [a] role.”

So while it’s not likely that interviews and resumes are going anywhere anytime soon, if you really want to prove your abilities and go into the hiring process with an advantage, look for applications that include the opportunity to do a skills test or submit a work sample.

Your interviewers won’t just have to take your word for it that you’re qualified—they’ll already know.

Inside Crossover’s Hiring Process

Here at Crossover, we’re proud to connect developers and other IT professionals who are top 1% in their field with remote jobs at Fortune 1000 companies. How do we find the best of the best talent worldwide? You may have guessed by now — skills testing is an important part of our approach.

We’re strong believers in the value of giving candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. Our tests, both technical and written, are custom-tailored to each job to make sure you get paired with a position that is a great match for your skills and background, where you can start contributing right away.

Interested in seeing what kind of positions you can test for? Visit our job board.