The state of the economy, and particularly the high unemployment rate we are experiencing, certainly tilts the hiring process in favor of businesses.
There is a multitude of talent available right now—including millions of potential employees boasting exquisite credentials and years of experience. At first glance, the idea of hiring an experienced candidate seems like a no-brainer—particularly because the opportunity to bring in such talent for lower-level positions is rare.
But hiring for experience is not always the best approach. In fact, in many instances, experience can actually be a drawback.
Because a candidate with years of experience in your industry may be much less adaptable and teachable than a less-experienced candidate, not to mention they likely will command a greater salary.
In addition to assessing candidates for specific behavioral attributes and skills to determine if they truly are a good fit for the position you’re hiring for, here are three of the most important characteristics to look for while hiring:
1) Positive attitude toward change. As a business owner, your goal is to differentiate yourself from the competition, right? With that in mind, why would you want to do things just like everyone else? Even someone who is not particularly comfortable with change can have a very positive attitude toward new approaches, however uncomfortable it may be. It’s important that your employees aren’t hung up on "the way I’ve always done things." This doesn’t mean that you can’t hire an employee with significant industry experience and a proven approach to the job. It just means that they need to be willing to consider new ways of approaching things.
2) Coachability. As a business owner, you’ve probably encountered both ends of this spectrum. There are some people who, when you correct them, take your feedback to heart and make an effort to improve, learn, and grow. There are others who become defensive, insist on justifying themselves, and are reluctant to consider your feedback in a constructive way. There’s simply no room in a well-run organization for employees who aren’t willing to learn and improve their performance.
3) Cultural fit. What’s the culture of your organization? Are you energetic and fast paced? Team-oriented? Do your employees have close personal relationships, or is it strictly business? Most companies don’t spend enough time defining what culture actually exists in their organization, whether they intended to create it or not. Think about it. Do you like the culture you’ve created or do you want to change it? With the explosion of social mediums, it is impossible to avoid spending time thinking about this issue and opportunity culture plays for employee satisfaction and performance. In order to continue to develop your company culture, it’s important that you bring in employees who are compatible. When you’re hiring, take cultural fit into consideration.
As mentioned above, experience in and of itself is certainly not a bad thing. But take care, while interviewing experienced candidates, to determine not only if they have the right job fit but also whether or not they possess these three critical characteristics.
There are great candidates out there—many of them with years of relevant experience. But when it comes to your next hire, don’t simply choose the most experienced candidate you can find. Hire an individual that is coachable, has a positive attitude toward change, and is the right fit for your organization’s culture. You can fix experience—but you can’t fix a bad attitude or fit to your organization!
[Image: Flickr user makautomatik]