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Why you should not hire based on experience only

21 Oct 16:00 By Houman Bigloo

Copy Of Lunch (1) Min

I recently attended a recruitment training program on effective recruitment and one of the topics was about predictors of job performance and how education, age and years of experience have a very small impact on individuals’ work performance. I found this topic very intriguing and believe my clients and people in my network who are hiring managers could benefit from these learnings too.

As a Recruiter, I take hundreds of job briefs annually, and one of the first requirements of the job brief is the number of years the Talent has had experience in the same field and which institute and field they have done their studies in. But are these the most important qualities we should be looking at when we are hiring a new staff member? 

Do not get me wrong, of course, education and work experience are very important in shaping an individual’s performance. In certain industries where practising a craft is essential such as playing a musical instrument, experience and proper education play a key role, however, there are many other attributes that we need to consider before hiring a new team member.


Why is experience not as relevant as it used to be?

We are living in an age where technology is constantly evolving. As a result, job functionalities and responsibilities evolve with them. Half a century ago it was common that a particular way of doing something stayed that way for an entire person's career, however, this is no longer the case. 

We see many new job titles emerging, specifically in the marketing and digital industries, so expecting individuals to have years of experience in these new avenues is often an impossible ask.


How do we qualify talent if not with experience?

In 2001 Ivan T. Robertson and Mike Smith conducted a study on personnel selection and uncovered that performance criteria had better accuracy than the personnel’s years of studies and experience. 

In their research, they identified cognitive, personality, job knowledge and work sample tests as a more reliable performance criterion, as well as structured interviews. 


Aren’t these methods costly?

Depending on the position you are looking to fill, using a highly regarded psychometric tool has its place; particularly for senior roles. However, if you are hiring a lower-level position, you can use the following suggestions to qualify your next hire. 


1- How coachable is your talent?

Coachability is a characteristic that is usually overlooked and is one of the key attributes required for staff retention. What do I mean by coachability? Having the ability to learn, adapt and grow with the team as opposed to being set in certain ways without flexibility. 

In order to identify a high performer’s coachability, create a series of behavioural questions aligned with your industry by asking them how they dealt with a situation where they had to shift their thinking, or where they were faced with a contradicting opinion within the team. 

Make sure that your questions are open-ended and observe the talent’s response, body language and approach to solving such challenges.


2- Structured Interview

Be prepared before your interview, and make sure you have familiarised yourself with the talent’s background so that you can establish a safe and comfortable environment for them to communicate with you. Create a structure for your interview to make sure all your questions are asked and covered. 

There are times that you may establish a strong connection with the person and let your emotions drive the interview which may result in overlooking some warning signs. At the end of the day, you are looking for someone to help lift your team and not a new best friend. Having a structured interview could save you from making a decision based on emotions alone as opposed to logic. 


3- Why and how instead of “what”

Form your questions in a manner that you can understand why or how your potential new team member has performed in their career as opposed to what they have done.

To give you an example, imagine if I meet with a digital marketing director who tells me that they have launched a global campaign for their brand which resulted in X, Y and Z. Whilst this is impressive, I cannot understand their involvement in the project and whether they were the key person who contributed to the result. This is when I expand the questioning and ask them, why did you launch a global campaign? (this helps me identify if they were more production-based or strategy based). How did you execute this campaign? (Learning about their involvement and how they approached it).


4- Reference Check

In my entire career, I have not had any references that were not positive as people choose their own referees. That is why you need to ask behavioural questions to identify how your next hire is motivated, operates and performs. Include the same questions as the interview in your reference check to learn the why and how about your talent. 


5- What motivates your new hire?

During your interview and reference check, make sure you identify what drives your future staff and what motivates them. You can hire the best high-performer in the market but if you do not look after them and manage their expectations, they will either leave you or their performance would decline. 

These questions may seem a bit daunting (trust me I know as I do it every day) but a businesses’ most important assets are their employees and being thorough throughout this process is a must. I hope these little tips help you with your next hire and of course if you do not have the time or energy to cover all these requirements, feel free to give me a call on 0481 332 461, and I can help you.