When Do You Read a Résumé?

by Michael Haberman on June 18, 2012 · 3 comments


Interviewing people without a resume: Productive?

Ok, I am going to need some feedback from readers on this one. So please leave a comment, you can do so anonymously. Conventional wisdom says that most résumés are read prior to someone being interviewed. But a CEO interview I read made me ask when do you read a résumé?

Martin Richenhagen, the CEO of AGCO, was interviewed by Henry Unger for Unger’s % Questions for the Boss column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Unger had asked Richenhagen about dealing with employees. Part of his response to the question was “With respect to hiring, I never read the résumé before I talk to somebody. I want to see people before I have any opinions. It makes me more curious. I read the résumé after the interview. Then maybe I’d have a second round.” An interesting approach, however, I am not sure I would recommend it except in some limited circumstances. If I were on an airplane and in the course of a conversation I found the person sitting next to me might be a possibility for some job for which I was interviewing I would proceed with an unofficial interview. If at the end of that time I thought they might be a good match for my organization I would then ask them to send me a résumé. A job fair is another situation where you would proceed with a conversation prior to seeing a résumé

In other situations, however, I cannot imagine most executives or HR professionals proceeding to an interview without having done some preliminary screening, which typically involves having seen the person’s résumé. In Mr. Richenhagen’s case it is “nice to be the boss” (to paraphrase Mel Brooks’ “It’s nice to be the king.”) He as undoubtedly had recruiters screen the candidates presented to him and he knows they have many of the qualifications needed to fill the job. From that point it is easy to interview without having seen a résumé.

But getting back to my request for some feedback from readers, can you think of other situations where you would proceed without having seen a résumé?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Ford June 19, 2012 at 8:15 am


the only time I’ve had it happen was a lunch meeting that turned into an interview for an opening I had. Otherwise, since we’re a smaller place without recruiters, I’m the screener. I have to read them first.



Greg June 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

Interesting approach by the CEO. Generally the leadership teams I have worked with have HR screen the folks prior to meeting with the leadership team. They may not read the resume before the interview but there has usually been some vetting done to thin the herd before the interview. From an HR perspective, I don’t see how not reviewing a resume, CV or other information would be possible as a matter of course. Particularily today when you get several hundred inquiries for openings.


Michael Haberman September 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm

It will indeed be interesting to see what happens if the course of healthcare reform remains unchanged.


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