Why You Should Hire For Potential To Secure Top Talent

By Edward Fleischman

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Like most employers, you might have plans to expand your team to support your company’s growth. Due to the growing skills shortage, however, you may find it challenging to find talent with the experience you think you need. This is why focusing on experience can be a major hiring mistake in today’s job market.

Recognizing that experience does not guarantee success, many employers are therefore focusing their efforts on identifying candidates who can positively impact and grow with the company in the long-run. In other words, they are hiring for potential.

Instead of relying on where a candidate is in their career to lead their decision, hiring for potential allows employers to assess the personality traits and soft skills (i.e., a desire to learn, critical thinking skills, etc.) that can make them a great fit for the organization. Not only will this enable you to cultivate leaders from within, but providing meaningful professional development for your new hire will help you develop trust and establish loyalty.

Here’s how you can implement this hiring strategy when you’re looking for your next great hire: 

Place emphasis on personal attributes

As you go through resumes and conduct interviews, you may be disappointed in a candidate’s lack of knowledge in a particular program or area. Looking past this may be difficult at first, but it’s important to remember that you can teach this program or skill over time. However, you can’t train character. By choosing a candidate you know will get along with your team and has the motivation to learn, you’re taking the steps to ensure future projects that require collaboration will be successful. Additionally, hiring an individual that you get along with will make it easier for you to mold them into the employee you want them to be.

Evaluate transferable skills

If a candidate isn’t proficient in a particular program or tool you’re looking for, but they do have expert-level knowledge in a similar one, it pays to give them a real opportunity. Since they’re already knowledgeable in a similar program, it’s likely they’ll be able to pick up on the desired skill as long as they’re given some initial guidance. While it may take a little time for them to get up to speed, hiring for potential based on their transferable skills will pay off further down the line. After all, those given the chance to prove themselves and feel their employer is invested in their growth will be more loyal in the long run!

Ask behavior or situational-based questions during the interview

So how do you decide whether or not a candidate has the potential to be a truly great employee? During the interview, be sure to ask them situational and behavior-based questions. These types of questions are a good way to analyze a potential employee’s ability to handle adversity and their general attitude, which can ultimately reveal how they’ll be able to work and grow within your company.

About the Author:

Edward Fleischman is the CEO of The Execu|Search Group, a leading recruitment, temporary staffing, and workforce management solutions firm headquartered in New York City with additional offices throughout the U.S. With over three decades of experience, Edward regularly advises employers on strategic senior-level hiring, structuring of compensation packages, and human resources issues.

Struggling to attract top talent in today’s job market? Check out The Execu|Search Group’s eBook, Hiring Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Ignore.

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