by Matt Alderton | February 12, 2018
As a manager, it's your job to build a team that is confident, competent, and capable. To assemble exactly that, one of the first things you probably consider when evaluating potential employees is their education. Because of the high cost of traditional education credentials, however, a growing number of workers are embracing alternatives like massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs.
"These educational opportunities are more flexible, and, in most cases, more affordable. Instead of taking on a full course load, enrollees participate in courses specific to their professional needs," explains contributor Heather R. Huhman, who says MOOCs are popular with employees but haven't yet caught on with employers. "Although MOOCs seem like the perfect solution, many employers remain dubious: Do they really provide a quality education?"

To successfully evaluate candidates with MOOC-based degrees and certifications, Huhman says you should make it a point to assess what they know instead of only where they learned it.

"Don't make positive or negative assumptions based solely on a candidate's educational background. Instead, allow this individual the opportunity to prove his or her knowledge," says Huhman, who repeats advice from Michelle Prince, senior vice president and global head of learning and development at the Atlanta-based staffing organization Randstad: "The best way to assess education quality -- whether it is gained in a traditional classroom setting or online -- is to ask the candidate interview questions that reveal their understanding."

If you still have your doubts, consider a work trial.

"During the hiring process, have candidates work with current employees on a project. Give them the same responsibilities they'd take on if hired," Huhman says. "Then, ask employees for their honest opinions … This will provide a clearer picture of the candidate's skill level and ability to do the job without traditional qualifications."

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