The future of hiring top talent using Adaptability Quotient (AQ)

11 January 2021 Victoria Butt

Adaptability Quotient Blog Image

​With most industries going through more change in the last 6 months than they have in the last 10 years, 2020 has certainly lived up to being one of the most memorable years in the last 50! The need for mental resilience and adaptability has never been more important – particularly one’s ability to adapt in fast changing environments. The definition of AQ by Forbes is "the ability to adjust course, product, service, and strategy in response to unanticipated changes in the market.” It is a term first written about in the Forbe’s white paper on Adapt or Die.

Tech Investor Natalie Fratto shares in her 2019 Ted Talk that she invests in tech founders only based on AQ -“We’re entering a future where IQ and EQ both matter far less than how fast you’re able to adapt. Adaptability itself is a form of intelligence, and each of us has the capacity to become more adaptable. Think of it like a muscle…. it has to be exercised”

Human Capital futurists have been writing about Adaptability Quotient increasingly since the start of 2020 and while it is not as defined as IQ and EQ just yet, it will shortly become the most robust way to hire top talent.

I recently attended a webinar by Future Crunch on Adaptability Quotient who (as always) delivered an awesome keynote on AQ. They talk about AQ as muscle and that it needs flexing by:

  • Staying curious;

  • Adopting an amateur mindset, and;

  • Staying strong in your views but flexible to change your mind.

What most of my research on AQ has shown me is that to build your own adaptability, it’s an ongoing quest of changing and adapting your thought process, taking risks and embracing learning. By unlearning your assumptions and deeply held beliefs, you become more mentally agile.

Selecting and hiring top talent is becoming increasingly hard as the rate or change and requirements from our people are unprecedented. Simple IQ/EQ/situational based interviews are out of date (if not archaic already). Pro interviewees who have well-oiled/rehearsed answers can still make their way through 4-5 rounds of interviews seamlessly. So, the question is, are the right people getting the right roles? Unlikely.

AQ assessment is the future of selecting the very best talent. Here are some questions which can flesh out a professional’s AQ:

  • When was the last time you learnt something genuinely new?

  • What is a strongly held belief which you have recently altered your opinion on?

  • When was the last time you received feedback from a superior? What was it and how have you responded to it? (if at all)

  • If you found yourself heading up this organisation, what would be the first 3 priorities/initiatives you would roll out?

  • How do you typically learn new things? And provide examples of this?

It is quite obvious that you will never receive linear answers to these questions and while it may take some time to get used to, you will see patterns emerging and over time, better understand a professional’s level of AQ. A high AQ person will be full of examples of learning, asking more questions and giving answers, taking and actioning feedback (even if it’s a small part of the overall feedback) and on a constant journey to experiment and learn new things.

It takes much more effort to actively unlearn something you ‘know’ to be true than to continue in the way in which you have always worked. A small step would be to alter your hiring techniques to include hiring adaptability rather than to focus solely on someone’s smarts/emotional intelligence.

Victoria is an Executive Search Specialist, entrepreneur, Founder and Managing Director of Parity Consulting - a thought leader, wife and mother, blogger, and a wine snob! She believes in life by design and is blessed to have found her career home in the training & recruitment industry, founding Parity Consulting on the belief that the candidate and client must be equal within the hiring process.

Parity Consulting works with clients who embrace diverse and inclusive environments and empower their teams to bring their authentic whole self to work. We encourage people with different beliefs, abilities, backgrounds and life experiences to contact us.

Feel free to reach out to Victoria Butt on +61 402 418 326 or