Consider hiring based on potential, not on experience

I’m not going to sugar coat it, there’s a real shortage of “talent” out there in the New Zealand market. This is symptomatic across the world. We’re not an anomaly down here in the most beautiful country on the planet. The common hiring method is set up to hire people based on their experience. What if you flipped this on its head and hired based on someones potential? Here are the reasons why you should consider doing exactly this, and how to spot that gold nugget that has potential.

Now first and foremost, this is not going to suit every single hire. If you’re looking to hire someone into a highly technical senior role, potential over experience is probably not going to be the smartest move and may even be career limiting as a manager. Where you’d consider potential over experience is when the role requires some of the softer skills and the ability to learn on the job. If this sounds like the role you’re hiring for, then read on. If not, read on anyway, as you might well be in this position down the track!

A candidates CV is a number of pages of marketing. It’s been tarted up, embellished, made to stand out from the crowd. Now, I’m not saying that the CV in your hot little hands is a pack of lies. I’m saying that the experience on some CV’s you’ll read will be glossed up to maximum effect, so don’t believe everything you read. Look for something that makes this person stand out as being different. You’ll be able to uncover experience and potential once you meet someone and have that chat.

An experienced person may bring the same tried and tested approach to a role (not always). Their modus operandi has been instilled over the years. You know what you’re going to get, based off what they’re saying as you sip your turmeric latte (I kid you not, how is that even legal). Someone with potential should bring some out of the box thinking to your company and team. I’m always looking for different ways to do things, if it makes us more productive.

You may come down to two choices. You have a very experienced candidate on one hand, and a candidate with oodles of potential on the other. Consider the cultural fit. Are you really going to hire the experienced person if the candidate with potential is a better fit culturally? Don’t discount how important that cultural piece is. A person can have all the experience in the world, but if they’re not a cultural fit for your elite band of misfits, then I’d discount them every time.

A candidate with potential will repay you in spades. And I’m not talking about a trip to Mitre10 or Bunnings. This candidate will bring energy as they are going to work harder than anyone else. Firstly, to repay you for taking a chance on them, and secondly, because they want to get up to speed as quickly as possible. They will also be loyal to you and the company. One does not simply buy loyalty (cue the appropriate meme).

How do you spot potential during an interview? Good question, glad you asked. Look for a candidate that is passionate about what they do. You can tell when speaking to someone that they have the fire, the spark. You can see the emotion and intelligence emanating from them. Do your best to elicit their ideas and way of thinking. This will give you insights into what they could bring to your team/company.

There are countless success stories across the web about examples where companies have hired based on potential. I’m not suggesting you do this for every hire, but certainly consider it. Potential is certainly a big factor when we hire.

If you need help in finding that person with potential, we can help. Get in touch today (or tomorrow). We can discuss over a beetroot latte (or your drink of choice).


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