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What Can't A CV Tell You?

Hand And Bulb

by Simon Lythgoe


CVs are an essential part of the recruitment process. They provide a basic outline of a potential employee, as well as information on work history, acquired skills and qualifications. However, although a CV has an important role to play, it is somewhat limited in terms of what it can reveal about a candidate. There are other key traits and features that need to be identified that a CV may not be able to shed that much light on.


A candidate’s work ethic

Work ethic isn’t something that can be effectively captured on paper. Although you’ll be able to see from a CV the roles a person has had, and how long each one was held, it’s not possible to detect from it how they handled each one. What’s key is to find out their approach to work, how they adapt to change and challenges, and what strategies they use to ensure deadlines are met. Phone interviews are a good forum for questions like this. Alternatively, internships, work placements or work trials will show you what a candidate is really like in an office environment.


What others think of them

The focus here is on finding information about what colleagues, managers and friends think of the candidate – and that’s not something you’ll see on a CV. If it’s too early for referencing then insight can often be found via social media, reviews and endorsements on LinkedIn, or by finding out if those in your network have views to offer.



Not many candidates will provide a photo with a CV today but appearance can tell you a lot about an individual, including what they consider to be smart or professional. The simplest way to assess this is to set up a Skype or video call at the start of the interview process. This will show you how the individual presents themselves and provide an indication of how they are likely to conduct themselves during an interview.


How they function in a team

In particular, it’s useful to be able to establish whether they respond positively to management or find it challenging. A CV rarely holds any clues when it comes to these key criteria. Interviews are really the only way to definitively establish how well someone is likely to react to the management structure within your business. By speaking to them in person you’ll be able to get a good idea of how they have responded to similar environments previously and how they will adapt.


Personality and interpersonal skills

From communication to confidence, even the best CV won’t show you what interpersonal skills an individual has. Personality and values are also crucial to picking the right candidate but very difficult to identify from a CV alone. Interviewing, whether in a group environment or individually, is essential for this part of the process. Key is to focus on questions about brand values, business culture and team environment and to note how candidates respond.

A CV is a very valuable tool for finding the right people for your business but also needs to be supported by other resources, such as interviewing.

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