Stop Hiring Based on Resume Buzz Words

Stop Hiring Based on Resume Buzz Words

The hiring process is challenging for all companies, and even more so in the realm of IT. Today most resumes are littered with IT buzzwords, reading like a list of every trendy tech term you can think of. Therefore, it is so important that the interview process effectively parses out the fluff and quickly determines the legitimate experience a candidate has. Quickly is the key word here because although assessing technical aptitude is crucial, it can suck valuable time away from the most important factor in the hiring process: cultural fit. If your interview isn’t successful in this way, it can result in costly hiring missteps. 

Through my interview process I aim to gain a sense of personality traits more than I look for technical prowess. Is the candidate a great communicator? Do they have the ability to exercise empathy? Are they resourceful? Do they have intelligence (both IQ & EQ)? How would they fit in with the team?

Keep in mind that “culture fit” doesn’t mean finding employees that are all alike. It refers to aligning values and work ethic – finding the right pieces to the puzzle. Technical skills can be taught, quite easily in fact. If a candidate has decent aptitude and a foundation, the technical aspect develops a bit easier. Values and personality traits that align, on the other hand, are virtually impossible to adjust.

In order to get a better sense of the traits that I’m looking for when interviewing potential new hires, let’s take a look at each piece of the “culture fit” puzzle…

Communication Skills

This is the ability to establish relationships with others, while also earning trust and developing emotional stock. Individuals who possess communication skills understand and demonstrate a willingness to communicate proactively. Proactive communication leads to improved collaboration and a better understanding of the task at hand.


Caring about clients is crucial, and this process is best demonstrated when an employee has the ability to view a situation from the perspective of the client. This might sound like common sense, but for many it’s not. Engineers who possess empathy can typically diffuse a tough situation with more ease than those who don’t. Additionally, they have a greater sense of urgency, as they feel a moral responsibility to do their very best in order to help the customer


I always prefer engineers that don’t give up and can think outside of the box. These two traits make for a team member that can get things done. Perhaps a textbook answer on how to resolve an issue may work for an exam, however those answers don’t always work in real life situations. In fact, most of the issues my team faces on a daily basis are anything but textbook. A resourceful individual quickly takes action to find a solution that fits.


Obviously, intelligence is high on the list of qualifications for most jobs. It is always ideal to find an employee that has the cognitive ability to remember things, learn from their mistakes, and demonstrate the ability to solve problems on the job. Having a strong EQ (Emotional Quotient) is equally important, and significantly harder to find (especially in this industry). Does the candidate have an ability to pick up on nuanced social cues? Can they sense when a member of the team or a client is frustrated and/or not understanding the message that is being conveyed? Can they adapt their approach accordingly? A team member with both IQ and EQ has these abilities, which are highly valuable in the workplace.

Many studies have linked culture fit to higher retention rates and increased job satisfaction.  Ultimately, if you are prioritizing buzz words and technical certifications while breezing over how your candidate fits into the overall culture at an organization, you are missing a valuable piece of the hiring puzzle.