Strategic Human Capital Insights

Hiring for Adaptability: A Major IT Challenge

8/20/16 10:00 AM


Adaptability_Image.jpgDid you know that 69% of hiring managers say Adaptability is the most important soft skill they screen for? To stay competitive today, your company needs to be able to adapt to a changing economy and business needs. This means you also need to hire employees who are able to adapt, as well.

So what does this mean for IT hiring? Adaptability is one of the most difficult challenges in the IT hiring process. Why? Because when you consider how positions in IT are evolving today, the role of IT employees increasingly requires the Adaptability soft skill. Adaptability is now required for multiple facets of the evolving IT position benchmark:

  • Adaptability with evolving and new technologies / applications
  • Adaptability when moving up the management and leadership ladder
  • Adaptability when dealing with peers or matrixed colleagues
  • Adaptability when dealing with contractors
  • Adaptability when interacting with internal users
  • Adaptability when dealing with vendors
  • Adaptability when working with outsourced functions

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Given this list, it’s safe to say that Adaptability is required for almost every aspect of an IT professional’s responsibilities. However, often within IT, we just screen for the first bullet, Adaptability with evolving and new technologies / applications. That screen is ‘relatively’ easy since the topics to explore are more tangible and the responses are more quantitative. Screening for the other Adaptability bullets in the interview process can be very difficult given the many potential layers of questions that need to be asked to arrive at tangible and credible responses.

Since an interview is typically an hour, you have very little time to figure out if the person has the Adaptability qualities you are looking for in your next hire. The good news is that behavioral interview questions are a proven way to more easily determine what someone will be like to work with.

Here are the top 5 Adaptability questions to ask during your next IT candidate interview:

  1. Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you had never done before. How did you react?  What did you learn?
  1. Describe a situation in which you embraced a new system, process, technology or idea at work that was a major departure from the old way of doing things? 
  1. Recall a time when you were assigned a task outside your job description. How did you handle the situation?  What was the outcome?
  1. Tell me about the biggest change you have had to deal with. How did you adapt to that change?

  2. Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a colleague’s working style in order to complete a project to achieve your objectives.


Are you looking to build the IT department of the future? Download the IT Competency Checklist to help you determine if your IT Department is ready to perform at sustainable peak levels for all necessary business skills in your organization. We also invite you to schedule a complimentary assessment with a member of our team.

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Topics: Information technology, Soft Skills

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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