• NMG Staff

Mad skills in the hiring process

Updated: Sep 9



This article was originally published by Bérénice Gandonou.


Any skills or interests that are somewhat out of the ordinary, i.e. the "exceptional" or unusual skills of a candidate, now have their place on a CV.


Looking for the unconventional. This is the new philosophy of headhunters, who are increasingly looking for skills, aptitudes or interests that are out of the ordinary on a candidate's CV.

Hard skills, soft skills and mad skills


In recent years, new criteria have emerged in the recruitment process. In addition to concrete, measurable technical and academic skills that can be easily integrated into the recruitment process (hard skills), two new notions are becoming increasingly important:

  • Soft skills: according to the Oxford dictionary definition, soft skills are the personal characteristics that enable people to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

  • Mad skills: these are skills and/or know-how that are specific to the candidate and that will set him/her apart from the rest of the candidates. This is a recent concept in recruitment which refers to everything that makes a candidate singular: personal commitments, hobbies and atypical professional experiences?

Mad skills are soft skills that are particularly rare or accentuated to a remarkable point, i.e. skills that are out of the ordinary for the candidate and that will set him or her apart from another candidate with, for example, the same hard skills.

Why are we talking about mad skills?


The notion of mad skills in the hiring process comes from Silicon Valley, the place where companies put innovation at the heart of their strategies. They need candidates with innovative profiles and a vision outside the mainstream.

In France, mad skills are beginning to emerge in hiring processes linked to the digital transformation of organisations or within agile companies and breaking with the traditional operating model.


Reinventing hiring processes


In order to identify the mad skills of candidates, recruitment tools and processes must be adapted. Some companies, for example, organize "job dating" consisting of express interviews that recruiters use to quickly identify the personality of candidates.

The mad skills that will catch the attention of a recruiter are talents based on particular skills in terms of knowledge, agility, motivation, to which is added a singular personality.

The mad skills that are prized by recruiters are :

  • Team sports because they reflect a strong ability to work in a team.

  • Creative and artistic activities, which are also highly appreciated by employers because they show that the candidate has a great potential for creativity.

  • Volunteering, which reflects the candidate's ability to get involved.

According to a study published in 2019 by the website Indeed :

  • 54% of recruiters say that an atypical work experience has already had a positive impact on their hiring decision.

  • 50% of them have already been convinced by profiles that devote a lot of time to personal projects.

  • 75% are attracted by personal projects with a lot of investment.

Mad skills, an asset or a liability?


While the inclusion of mad skills in the recruitment process has become widely adopted in companies across the Atlantic, mad skills are not the main criteria in recruitment. However, valuing a few of them can help you find the famous "golden apple"!

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