Certain jobs demand experience in the field. But in other positions, a candidate who has less experience may still thrive, as long as he or she has the right potential for growth. While most hiring managers find it easier to evaluate experience than to evaluate growth potential, an ability to measure both qualities is essential – especially when a tight hiring market makes it tough to find the right experience in the right candidate.
How to Hire for Experience
When choosing to emphasize experience over growth potential, don’t forget that not all experience is created equally. Instead, use the interview to focus on how a candidate’s past experience prepares or qualifies him or her for future challenges. Ask “behavioral interview” questions like:
- Tell me about a time you had to generate buy-in among your staff. How did you do it? What were the results?
- If you were put in charge of the department/company today, what would you change and why?
- When have you failed? What did you do?
How to Hire for Growth Potential
How can companies evaluate a candidate for growth potential? Craft your interview approach to answer these questions:
- What motivates the candidate? Candidates who are motivated by the best interests of the team and the goals of the company of the whole offer better growth potential than candidates who are motivated merely by their own earning power or advancement. They’re also more likely to stay with the company in the long term, decreasing turnover expenses and keeping a talented person on your company’s side, instead of working with the competition.
- Is the candidate curious? The ability to learn is useless without the drive to learn. Candidates who always want to know more about how the company works, what other departments are doing, and what the “top issues” in the field are will be more likely to turn their “growth potential” into growth reality.
- Does the candidate offer insights into the work? Good students often turn into good growth-potential candidates – but not always. Distinguish between students who did well because they memorized facts and students who did well because they thought critically about what they learned and turned it into suggestions, questions, and insights.