The only thing worse than a bad hire is the bad hire you could have…
Ellen Warden, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
WorkPlace Synergy, LLC
Hiring experienced BV talent is a challenge in today’s high-demand market. To hire good employees when it seems like they don’t exist, you have to change your expectations. Which expectations you let go of and which ones you keep, however, is the key distinction.
In your process, you likely focus on a candidate’s experiences in past jobs to gauge if they can be successful in yours. But seeking out candidates who have the potential to be top performers at your company opens up your talent pool. Experience alone does not guarantee your hire will be a good performer; in large part because technical or job-performance skills can be taught, but soft skills are much harder to master.
Undoubtedly, there are situations where you might want your recruit to have significant, extensive BV experience, knowledge and/or skills. If you’re looking to hire someone senior, especially in a management or leadership role with mentorship responsibilities involving training more junior staff, you might want to put more focus on experience and knowledge about the BV profession.
Even in fields that require technical skills, though, experience is far from the only consideration. Experts in their field tend to have a fixed mindset which can be a problem when you are looking for someone who is open, adaptable, and eager to learn. This has nothing to do with years of experience! It’s about temperament and attitude (typically things that cannot be taught).
Assessing potential requires a slight shift in mindset. Some candidates might not tick every box, so sometimes it can be necessary to lower your hiring bar. This is not the same as lowering your hiring standards. It just means that you’re prepared to accept candidates with slightly less experience or qualifications, (which can be learned), instead of holding out for the mythical purple squirrel.
Does your candidate actually need 5+ years of experience? Or could someone with less experience but is a high-capacity learner with high intelligence, initiative, and integrity be a better fit?
Candidates who fit your company culture, who are conscientious, determined, and self-motivated, show signs of being a good problem solver, and who are ready and willing to adapt and jump into new challenges with the right attitude are more likely to be coachable and engaged employees who you can train to do the job you need them to do.
How can you identify promising “inexperienced” employees to hire for potential?
- When you look at resumes, read between the lines to look for the above traits.
- Use pre-employment assessments as a tool to gain valuable insights on your candidates.
- Ask behavioral and situational interview questions. For example:
- Tell me about how you’ve worked effectively under pressure.
- Give me an example of a challenge you’ve faced, how you approached it, what was the result, what did you learn?
- Tell me about a mistake you’ve made professionally.
- Give an example of a goal you reached and how you achieved it.
- Describe a situation where you had to collaborate with a difficult colleague, manager or important client/customer.
This “hire for attitude and potential, train for skills” philosophy might change your perspective on how you hire and develop staff. If you hire them, put strategies in place to give them the best chance of fulfilling the potential you hired them for in the first place. Build a path to success: provide them with the tools they need to develop their professional skills, have a clear development plan for them, and offer ongoing mentoring.
Do you need help creating recruiting strategies? Ellen Warden works with BV/LS practices around the country to help them align their HR solutions with long-term objectives. You can reach Ellen at WorkPlace Synergy.