Do you hire for resilience?

re·sil·ience(rəˈzilyəns)/noun

The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

“Given how important resilience is, it’s surprising we don’t hire for it,” Seth Godin so wisely stated in a recent blog post. And that got me thinking, this isn’t a characteristic we pinpoint when talking about the ideal traits of a candidate – yet, in today’s ever-changing business climate, it’s probably one of the most essential.

So, just how do you hire for resilience?

The first thing to consider is how someone has bounced back from changes or difficulties in the past. They may be personal or professional, depending on the years of experience the candidate has to draw from. But just asking someone to “tell me about a time when you managed through change,” isn’t enough.

Instead, ask the individual to describe a particularly difficult period of time at work. Talk about the ‘why’ behind the challenge – both for that person and their team or other employees. Continue to probe into what steps they took personally to manage through those difficulties. Also, how did they help others on the team who were struggling through the changes. How did the organization communicate through those challenging times? How did they (as a communications leader) assist with those communications efforts? What worked? What didn’t? How would they handle the situation differently if faced with it again?

It’s never enough to just ask for an example during an interview. The real crux of a story comes when you probe further. As candidates reveal the details of how they think through challenges, they’ll provide a clearer picture of their capacity to bounce back when times are tough. And, as we all know, it’s not if you stumble that matters. It’s how you recover that counts.