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On paper, he wasn’t going to make it – no directly related experience, no certifications, no education relevant to the position. With almost no interviewing experience, he was understandably nervous and quiet. We were hiring an oilfield trainer, and he had been delivering furniture for the last seven years. but still, there was something about Jim.

During the interview, I asked him if he ever had to train anyone. He mentioned training new hires on occasion at his current job. I handed him a whiteboard marker. “Take this, stand at the board, and teach us something.” Jim looked confused as did my managers and said, “But I don’t know anything about the oilfield.”

“You’ve been a furniture delivery guy for seven years. Ever deliver dishwashers?”, I asked. He said he did. “Ever install them for people?”, I asked. “All the time.”, he replied. “So, stand up there and teach us how to install a dishwasher.” My managers shifted uncomfortably in their seats as Jim stood and walked to the front of the room.

What followed was one of the most engaging, interactive, and informative training sessions we had seen in a long time.  The guy at the board was a totally different person than the one seated at the conference table struggling to answer our questions.  We made Jim an offer that afternoon, and he worked for us for over three years before moving into an operations role with one of our business units.

Jim had a weak resume and interviewed poorly. By most accounts, he wasn’t going to make it. But, he also had exactly what we needed: the ability to connect, engage, and communicate.  It just took a little digging to see it.  We gave him the knowledge he needed to be successful, but he already had the ability, and we damn near missed it. 

So, be careful of the value you place on resumes and don’t miss out on a great hire by failing to look below the surface of initial impressions.  Be careful of what you look for in others, and be wary of focusing on reasons to cut people from the applicant or interview pool.  You’ll cut yourself down to zero really fast.