Survival of the Fittest: Why Adaptability Quotient is the Future of Work

Approximately 66 million years ago, a mass extinction ended the lives of roughly three-quarters of plants and animals on Earth, including the mystical dinosaurs that were once believed to be the dominant species spread across land. Fast forward to present day, we humans live in yet another sensitive era where rental rates are skyrocketing and climate change is considered an existential threat. Not to mention a global pandemic that forced many of us to adjust to the “new normal”. Stuck in this new reality, the societal struggles we now face push us to develop new skills to thrive and overcome the inevitability of change.

How It Relates to Hiring

We’ve been through this once already: when business professionals finally recognized and appreciated that successful leaders thrive because of their EQ – not only their IQ. With more weight given to a person’s emotional capacity, a lot of us are aware that being smart is no longer the most sought-out trait when it comes to finding A-players. But the uncertainty about one’s overall potential remains, and people begin to question whether the standard IQ and EQ evaluation is indeed enough.

 “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

If you ask current HR decision-makers what they look for in potential candidates, 91% will say “the ability to cope with change” – a vital aspect that often gets overlooked by employers. Not only is technology changing at an exponential rate, the general demographic of the workforce is also going through significant transitions as millennials and Gen Zs take up majority of the labour pool. Given such circumstances, it makes sense for us now than ever to shift emphasis towards a more relevant measure for success – the Adaptability Quotient (AQ).

How to Measure AQ

Adaptability is a very abstract and unpredictable concept, so to evaluate it, requires ingenuity unlike any traditional hiring approaches. Lucky for the HR industry, the use of technology in hiring has increased in recent years, making the task of determining the AQ of a potential hire much less challenging. A range of recruitment tools, preferably a combination of valid assessments and behavioral interview questions, can help paint a full picture of a candidate, and provide employers insights on how they react to given situations. You can then ask follow-up questions like,

  • Describe a day that was totally chaotic, and how you managed to get through it.
  • Explain a time when you felt necessary to overlook some policies or procedures because they got in the way of reaching a goal.
  • Provide an example where you used creativity to solve a problem.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. The future of work is more than just how well you can read or write, but how well you can learn.

This post was most recently updated on April 20, 2021.