Hire For Potential Not Just Employment History

Hiring for Potential is often the best recruitment solution

It seems that employers everywhere have become obsessed with discovering candidates who have had experience in the exact role or industry associated with their vacancy. Unfortunately, if you’re too busy searching for someone with the perfect employment history, you will miss out on plenty of worthy candidates who have great potential. To ensure you don’t overlook applicants who have the capability to succeed in your company, focus instead on their ability to achieve relevant goals to the role on offer.

Why should you hire for potential?

Just because someone has held the same role before, doesn’t mean they will necessarily perform better than someone who has potential but lacks the same employment history. The biggest advantage of hiring someone with potential is their room for development and the ability to mould them into the perfect candidate for your role and company. As long as they possess the right attitude, with fresh ideas and the determination to succeed, you can always help them to improve their skills along the way.

How do you hire for potential?

Decide on and search for competencies.

Before you start the hiring process make sure you have a list of fundamental skills that successful candidates must possess in order to get through to the next stage. These should be related to their ambition and motivation to succeed, not purely focused on their knowledge and previous employment. Look for candidates who are keen to prove themselves in a role such as the one you’re offering, who you believe have the potential to do well but have just not been given the chance to demonstrate their ability yet. Qualities which suggest a candidate has good potential are: the willpower to succeed, ability to communicate with others, an inquisitive nature and insightful character. You need someone who’s able to overcome obstacles when striving for their goals, who can use their interpersonal skills to connect with clients/colleagues, is keen to seek out new knowledge and is able to make sense of the information they uncover.

Behavioural-style interviews.

Use this form of interview to best uncover candidates with the characteristics you are searching for to fill your vacancy. This involves asking candidates to give examples of previous experiences that relate to the skills/qualities you are looking for. This may not be in roles which are the same as or similar to this one, or even in the same industry, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t possess the potential to succeed in the job. If a candidate can provide you with detailed instances where they have clearly demonstrated relevant skills to your vacancy, then this allows you to assess their talent rather than just their employment history. Ask questions like: ‘Can you recall an instance when…’ and ‘Tell me about a time when…’ This encourages the applicants to reflect on their past experiences and provide you with specific situations, methods and outcomes that are relevant to the skills required for the job.

So don’t discount candidates who have not held the role you’re offering before or even those who haven’t worked in the same industry. The truth is, their past experiences elsewhere may have provided them with the right skills you need for your role, and therefore they have great potential to succeed. Even if a candidate’s skills are not completely up to scratch, if their attitude is spot on and you connect with them in the interview due to their high level of potential, they could still be the best person for the job.