A Modern Interview Question: To Résumé or Not to Résumé?

Vector image of hands holding a resume on a tablet

We recently conducted a survey among our clients to answer this question: Should candidates bring hard copy versions of their résumés to job interviews? If we would have asked even five years ago, the answer would have been a resounding “yes!” But modern interview practices are changing. Most hiring managers review electronic copies of candidate résumés prior to interviews, then reference these electronic copies during the interviews themselves on a computer or tablet. Some companies skip the in-person interview altogether as Skype, FaceTime and other remote interview modalities become commonplace. So where does this leave the age-old contraption of the printed résumé? Obsolete by digital practices or a resolute staple in the hiring world?

Survey Results

According to our survey, it’s right smack dab in the middle. The results were exactly 50/50 for and against bringing printed résumés to an interview with rationale on both sides.

In the “pro-résumé” camp we have the following responses:

  • A printed résumé demonstrates candidate preparedness and respect for the interviewer’s time
  • It’s best to prepare on the off-chance an interviewer forgets to bring the résumé to an interview
  • Backup résumés are beneficial in case additional interviews or meetings are required
  • Printed résumés are great tools/mementos to leave behind for a hiring manager

The “anti-résumérs” claim the following:

  • Printed résumés waste paper when digital alternatives are available and easy to use*
  • Hiring managers should review résumés in advance and shouldn’t need additional hard copies
  • Many companies primarily utilize tablets or other digital methods for reviewing résumés
  • Some companies have replaced résumés in hiring with ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems)

*The Green Movement

The most repeated anti-résumé argument is that hard copies waste paper when most companies use (or should use) a digital method to accept and review résumés. Now, résumés hardly account for the highest rates of paper consumption in the world, especially in small scale hiring. However, if we consider the scope of certain positions and the “recruiting math” required to fill them – we have a different picture. Recruiting math dictates that for every 10 people a company hires, it will have interviewed 100. For companies hiring 500 people (and there are some), printed résumés for every candidate would use a quarter of a ton of paper. In this case, it would behoove the hiring company and the planet to accept applicant résumés strictly digitally – and to make this known to all applicants in advance.

Ask Your Recruiter or Hiring Manager

For candidates preparing for an interview, the safest bet is to consult with your recruiter or hiring manager about appropriate expectations. This includes more than the company’s preference regarding résumés. Expectations for appropriate attire and physical presentation are changing too. Long gone are the days when every candidate was expected to interview in a suit or other formal clothing. As recruiters, we are advising more and more candidates to wear casual ensembles to match more casual work environments – lest they look and feel out of place during the interview process. Companies of old may have also prohibited flashy clothing, bright nail polish or visible tattoos and piercings. Nowadays, these could be the very aesthetics certain companies are looking for to represent their brand. The most important thing is that candidates know the company’s expectations ahead of time so that they have the opportunity to meet them while still being their authentic selves. After all, résumés, clothes, and appearance are all just precursors to the real questions: Can the candidate do the job, join the team, and fit within the company culture? If so, don’t let these extraneous factors blind the company from seeing it.

At Pivotal Talent Search, part of our job is to help align company/candidate expectations. As recruiters, we work with hiring managers to find candidates that match the qualifications and nuances of each position that needs filling. We also work with candidates to make sure that they are prepared with all the information they need to nail their interviews and land a successful hire.

Contact a recruiter today to get started!