What if ‘right on paper’ is just ‘right on paper’?

Published: 22nd July 2020

What if ‘right on paper’ is just ‘right on paper’?

So often when organisations look to hire new staff they go into the process stating that they want someone with a defined amount of experience. That could be 1 year, 5 years or 10 years. But, all too often too much weight is placed on how much experience an individual has rather than other skills and traits they possess, such as shared values with an organisation, the right mindset, the drive to succeed and a plethora of soft skills.

Very often a candidate with less experience and more drive to succeed can perform far better in a role than someone with years of experience but who has become jaded and complacent. It’s key to remember this and consider carefully throughout the interview process what is more important to your organisation; experience or a wide range of skills that will be beneficial for the role.

These are the things to look out for during the interview process that will tell you so much more about how a person will perform in a role than the amount of experience that they have…  

Attitude and Values

Does the potential candidate have a positive attitude and seem friendly, motivated and enthusiastic? A person’s attitude can tell you so much about the type of employee they would be. If they’re passionate, easy to communicate with and full of good ideas during the interview process, it’s likely that this is their personality and that this is how they would be within a role.

A person’s values are also incredibly important if you’re considering hiring them to become a part of your organisation. If you want a loyal, reliable employee who is likely to stick around long-term, the easiest way to find this is to choose an individual whose values are in alignment with those of your organisation.

No matter what it is that your organisation values most, knowing that a potential new hire feels the same way is a great sign that they’ll fit into your organisation well and is something that could even end up being more significant than the amount of experience they have.

Soft Skills

There are many roles where soft skills could be considered by many to be even more important than the amount of experience someone has. The World Economic Forum recently stated that “social skills – such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others – will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills” and this is something we’re starting to see.

For example, if the role in question is one that is communication-heavy, it is likely more imperative to find a candidate who has excellent communication skills and is comfortable communicating with those around them, as well as with clients and customers than someone with lots of experience and poor communication skills.

Finding a candidate who you know has the correct soft skills for the role in question will help differentiate them from others who don’t have the right soft skills, no matter what their experience level might be.

Whilst experience is undoubtedly significant, it is worth considering whether to hire a person with less experience and a better attitude, mindset and determination to succeed within your organisation. Someone with better communication skills, interpersonal skills and initiative will always be a better hire than an individual with decades of experience but who doesn’t work well within a team, has a poor attitude and little drive or motivation.


Insight from Nigel Brewster

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