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Why do companies look to hire resilient people?

Lucy Woods resize

Lucy Woods, Senior Recruitment Advisor, EY

I graduated from Newcastle University in 1999 with a 2:1 in Food Marketing and have worked within the recruitment industry for the last 16 years. I have worked for recruitment agencies and within in-house roles in London, Newcastle and Australia during this time, mainly recruiting for professional finance, tax and legal staff.  I joined EY in 2014 and am currently the Senior Recruitment Advisor for the Tax & Legal recruitment team at EY.

During our working life and life in general we will face challenges, big and small.  These challenges can take many different forms and often involve us being pushed out of our comfort zone, having to deal with an unexpected or difficult situation, a situation out of our direct control or a situation we haven’t experienced before. How we respond shows our resilience.

Within the working world, both organisations and their employees need to show resilience to deal with the complex and ever-changing business landscape we are faced with today.

As an employee, our resilience to cope with challenges, difficult situations and/or being pushed out of our comfort zone are of vital importance to the organisation’s growth and to the individual in maintaining health and happiness at work.

Resilience is not a competency you can necessarily assess just from a CV.  A candidate’s adeptness to be resilient can be better assessed through competency-based interviewing, opening questioning and/or an observed group exercise.  Often it is not only the actions, output or career moves a candidate has made but why they took that action, how they approached it, or what drove them to do it that shows their resilience (or lack thereof).

When I am looking to assess a candidate’s resilience, I ask them to give examples or explain situations when they have been faced with certain scenarios and probe them on how they approached and dealt with them.  These areas would include:

  • Problem solving strategies

When faced with a problem or issue how the individual approached solving this. What role they played, who they involved, why they took the actions they did.

  • Change

A candidate’s ability to adapt to new processes, procedures, systems or people and how they feel/felt doing this, what steps they took to facilitate the change personally.  Whether they see change as a challenge or opportunity.

  • Setbacks

How they have coped with a setback or a situation that did not go their way.

  • Goals and purpose

What goals they have set themselves, how they work towards achieving them, what happens if all doesn’t go to plan.

  • Career Moves

Why they have taken certain roles or chosen to leave other roles, what avenues they explored before they took that course of action.

There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers with any of the above but candidates answers can help build a picture as to how they react in certain situations and how resilient they are or have been to date.  I have found that some individuals naturally come across as more optimistic and resilient than others. Other candidates can demonstrate through their work or life experiences that they have become more resilient over time, even if it isn’t their natural default.

Depending on a candidate’s experience level and chosen career, the need for resilience will vary. While there are training programmes organisations use to help employees understand and develop resilience as a skill, knowing how to present and show resilience in their career history to date will in my opinion help candidates stand out during the interview process.


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