Employee Experience


In the previous blog, the word was about T-shaped employees – how to become one, what are the advantages of having T-shaped employees, and how to create T-shaped teams.  

In this blog, we will focus on how can you – as an interviewer – spot someone who is T-shaped in the interview process.

Identifying the right candidate during the employment process is not an easy task. We are all aware of that, which is why old-fashioned interview questions are not the best choice. You will get much more information during an informal conversation in a relaxed environment with the candidate, than asking standardized, pre-prepared questions. 

So, how can you  identify the T-shaped candidates? Here are some steps that might help:

There is a big chance that someone who is changing a career will be T-shaped, as they are the ones that usually possess transferable skills. Transferable skills refer to skills and knowledge that can be applied across different industries and job roles. T-shaped individuals, on the other hand, possess a broad range of skills and knowledge across multiple areas, as well as deep expertise in one particular area. This deep expertise is often a transferable skill that can be applied across different industries and job roles.

Here are some examples of transferable skills:

  • Communication skills: the ability to articulate ideas and convey information effectively, both verbally and in writing.
  • Problem-solving skills: the ability to analyze issues, develop situations, and implement them effectively.
  • Leadership skills: the ability to inspire, motivate, and guide a team towards achieving common goals. 
  • Technical skills: proficiency with various software, programs, and tools that are common across different industries.
  • Time management and organizational skills: the ability to manage multiple tasks and priorities efficiently. 

Put attention to the below traits of the candidate during the conversation. Here are some guidelines that will help you to get to know more:

  • Diverse Skillset

Ask about their previous work experience, their educational background, and any extracurricular activities they may have participated in. Look for candidates who have experience in a variety of areas, for example, customer service, marketing, coaching, CRM, supply chain …  

  • Deep Expertise  

During the interview, ask candidates about their area of expertise and how they have developed their skills in this area over time. Look for candidates who are passionate about their area of expertise and who have a record of accomplishment of success in this area. 

  • Being able to collaborate

Ask candidates about their experience working on team projects and how they have contributed to the success of these projects. Look for candidates who can communicate effectively, are able to listen actively, and work in the team to achieve common goals. 

  • Being able to adapt 

T-shapers learn quickly in new situations. During the interview process, ask candidates about their experience adapting to new challenges and how they have approached learning new skills or technologies. Look for candidates who are curious, open-minded, and willing to take on new challenges.

  • Growth Mindset

T-shaped candidates tend to have a growth mindset, meaning they are always looking for ways to improve and develop their skills. Ask candidates about their goals for professional development and how they stay up to date on industry trends. Look for candidates who are committed to continuous learning and who are excited about the opportunity to grow and develop within your organization.

  • Commitment 

T-shaped candidates have a high level of enthusiasm toward their tasks assigned at the workplace. They have the feeling of responsibility toward the goals, mission, and vision of the organization they are associated with.

Ask if they have ever had to handle a difficult or unexpected situation that tested their commitment to a project or task. How did they handle it? 

  • The ability to self-evaluate

Another thing that is common for T-shaped employees is the ability to examine themselves to find out how much progress they have made. It requires employees to monitor their own abilities and evaluate strengths and weaknesses. It puts employees largely in charge of their own development.

Ask for example if they have ever received feedback that was difficult to hear. How did they respond, and what did they learn from the experience? 

A good way to see the shape of the candidate is to simply ask them to draw their T-SHAPE on an A4 paper. You can also show them your T-shape and then ask them to do the same. By writing their skills down and creating their own T, you might find it easier to visualize and see if the candidate fits into your team. Help the candidate with below questions:

  • What skills do you possess expert knowledge in? (This could also be something they are working towards or training in if this forms part of a wider plan).
  • What skills/knowledge are you using constantly or consistently (and could teach others about)?
  • What are you able to do adequately (with no or minimal supervision)?
  • What skills are you still learning or being introduced to?
  • What do you want to learn?

Here is an example of a career changer with experience in sales and broad knowledge of skills. 

In a rapid, fast-paced world it is essential to have employees that can adapt, learn and excel in their areas of expertise, while also being able to have a broad understanding of other fields related to their work. Spotting a T-shaped candidate during the interview process requires looking for a combination of skills, experiences, and personal qualities. 


Author: Tjaša Bogataj MSc in HR, agile HR specialist, agile enthusiast, and coach. 

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