Hiring for smart talent, not direct experience

When it comes to hiring, in many cases, past performance does not guarantee future success. You want to make sure that you find a candidate that’s motivated, and a good fit for your company’s culture. That’s why you should focus on hiring smart talent, rather than direct experience.

Executive research adviser Claudio Fernández-Aráoz defines potential as “the ability to adapt and grow into increasingly complex roles and environments”. Candidates with potential are passionate learners who are dedicated to the growth of their team, which makes them an invaluable asset.


Why you should look for smart talent

How resourceful a candidate has been in the past can often be a better indicator of how well they will perform once hired. Claudio Fernández-Aráoz also said that “Having spent 30 years evaluating and tracking executives and studying the factors in their performance, I now consider potential to be the most important predictor of success at all levels, from junior management to the C-suite and the board”.

Since potential can be one of the biggest indicators of success, that means you have to ask yourself the hard questions during the interview process. Aim to find someone who can either fit or adapt to the position. You can always teach job-specific skills, but you can’t teach someone to be passionate about their work.


How to spot smart talent

The main question you want to ask yourself is whether or not a potential hire is likely to grow with your company and into their role. If you’re wondering how to you’ll manage to figure this out from an interview, potential can be identified through a candidate’s problem-solving abilities. Some traits to look out for are:

1. Resourcefulness

Creative problem-solvers are more likely to adapt and perform well, and bring an intuitive perspective to their work experience.

2. Curiosity

Candidates who are curious and invest time in their own personal improvement are the type that will be enthusiastic learners who adapt to new industry practices.

3. Insightfulness

Will they bring in a new and fresh point of view, or be limited by old habits?

4. Determination

It’s important to know that a candidate is open to innovation, and exploring new and more efficient solutions.

Needless to say, hiring for potential isn’t always the one-size fits all solution. Smart talent is always useful and versatile, but how much experience a candidate needs could depend on whether or not they’ll be working with a supportive team. But in most cases,hiring for smart talent over direct experience will help you find the most creative and determined candidates, who are willing to learn and grow with your company.


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Carine A.

Written by Carine A.