Why hire for potential over experience?

with No Comments

Traditionally any recruitment process begins with a job listing and a call for resumes. Candidates are screened and invited for an interview in which they tell the interviewer about their past accomplishments. The recruiter then makes predictions of which potential employee would be most likely to succeed in the position and hires accordingly.

But what if your deeply held assumptions about the hiring process were proven wrong? What if previous experience, education or even success were not a predictor of future performance?

We have talked a lot on this blog about how millennials entering the workforce are changing organizational practices from front-office all the way to the recruitment process. Recently, recruitment trends have shifted from more traditional ways of hiring experienced individuals to hiring teams for growth potential. So why should you hire for potential over experience?


Hiring graduates from top universities time after time again will bring in similar perspectives. Expanding your hiring pool to accommodate more diverse potential hires will not only bring in more choice but better choice. Diverse viewpoints tend to breed innovation, so diversifying your workforce by hiring for growth potential can be a step in the right direction.

In the interview, assess a candidate’s open-mindedness and ability to embrace challenges. These qualities are a good indicator of if the candidate has the potential to innovate.


Adaptability is a crucial skill in today’s workforce. Keeping up with technological advancements requires adaptability and drive to continue learning new skills. Hires with little experience, especially recent graduates, are stepping into the workforce ready to soak up every bit of learning they can. This makes them mouldable and adaptable from day one.

In the interview, focus on questions that assess a potential hires’ ability to problem-solve, adjust to changing conditions or deal with uncertainty. Using organizations specialized in recruiting young talent can also help you get one step closer to hiring the adaptable young leaders you need.

Cultural fit

It is easy to overlook cultural fit in the recruitment process. Candidates who haven’t shined in their past experiences may open up when placed into the right team. Inversely shining experience on a CV won’t necessarily breed success in your organization if put into the wrong team.

In order to assess cultural fit, you first need to define and assess what your organizational culture truly is. Questions about ideal work environments or personal values are key to assessing cultural fit in candidates.

Finally, hiring for potential isn’t something that will become a trend in the future. It is happening now in high growth companies. Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, senior advisor at Egon Zehnder, described the current trends in hiring as the “new era of talent management in potential”. Hiring and engaging high potential candidates can be the thing that makes your organization stand out.


Leave a Reply