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Watching a Response Under Pressure

Several newspapers, social media sites, and journals have started evaluating the most common buzzwords listed in resumes that job applicants use in hopes of getting to the interview and acceptance letter. In the Wall Street Journal’s “Band These Buzzwords from Your Resume,” Leslie Kwoh details some of the most problematic and vague phrases used on resumes.


Often times, applicants use these words to hit certain trigger points. Many are desperate to find a job, and they want to give themselves the best advantage possible by hitting the right buttons. That’s what words like creative, organizational, and the like are intended to do.

A Slight Catch to This Dilemma

What makes this tricky though is that not all individuals who list the common buzz phrases are speaking falsely. Some of them truly are creative or effective with people or whatever it might be. However, you have to be able to assess this. Through a good application tracking system, you can keep track of everyone who applies, but you have to ask the questions to make sure that you are learning what you need.

The Most Common Difficult to Assess Buzzword

Out of all the buzzwords analyzed, the phrase “problem solver” came up with the most frequency. The difficulty with this phrase is that it is not necessarily as easy to describe as creativity or organization. In fact, it is a skill that is most often useful under pressure or demonstrated.

If you find yourself in need of an individual with these kind of skills, then you may want to consider adding another step in your interview process: a problem solving challenge.

Setting Up the Problem Solving Challenge

The purpose of the problem solving challenge is to ensure that the applicant actually does have the abilities that he claims he does or that they are at least compatible with the kind of challenges that someone in your business would face. To set this up, you will want to come up with a problem that needs to be solved and that can be solved in some fashion within a set period of time. You will then present the problem to the applicant to see how he does in responding to it.

Remember that this is doing to be a very high pressure situation. It will allow the applicant to demonstrate his ability to work under pressure, a skill that may be useful if your business involves a number of deadlines. You can choose to let him interact with others on the team or by himself. Just make sure that it is hands on and that he has to be working to come up with a solution. The other participants should not make it easy for him to solve the issue.

Even if he does not fully solve the problem, you should be watching his responses. Did he demonstrate what you view as being necessary for having problem solving skills? Is this an individual whom you could see being a valuable member of your team and resolving the issues that come up?

This method takes more time, but it allows you to get greater insight into your applicant’s character as well as determine whether he actually has the skill set that you need.

Vishal Gaikar

Vishal Gaikar

Vishal Gaikar is a professional blogger from Pune, India. He is Software Engineer, Web Addicted. At Shake the Tech, he writes on Technology, Gadgets & so on. Follow me @vishal

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