by Matt Alderton | August 26, 2019
Hiring a new team member is like placing a bet at a Las Vegas casino: Although you might win, it's just as likely that you'll lose.

If you want to shift the odds in your favor, there's at least one thing you can probably change about your hiring process, author Alison Beard reports in an article for the Harvard Business Review: Stop hiring for experience and start hiring for skills.

The strategy comes courtesy of Professor Chad Van Iddekinge, a researcher at Florida State University who analyzed 81 studies examining the link between an employee's prior work experience and his or her performance at a new company.

"They found no significant correlation between the two," Van Iddekinge says. "Even when people had completed tasks, held roles or worked in functions or industries relevant to their current ones, it did not translate into better performance. The conclusion: Experience doesn't predict a new hire's success."

Although it sounds counterintuitive, Van Iddekinge has a possible explanation. "One possibility is that many measures of experience are pretty basic: the number of jobs you've held, tenure at your previous employers, years of total work, whether or not you've previously worked in a similar role. Those metrics tell us whether a candidate possesses experience but not about the quality or significance of that experience, which would probably have more bearing on performance," he tells Beard. "We should take experience into account but maybe do a better job of delving into prehire performance."

In other words: It's not enough to have experience. In order to be successful, candidates must have competence.

"Employers … think previous jobs have helped those people build up knowledge and skills. They might even think that candidates who have done certain types of work have particularly desirable personality traits," Van Iddekinge concludes. "But we'd recommend focusing on the knowledge, skills and traits directly rather than using experience or even education as a proxy."

More Tips:

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?
Contact Successful Meetings with your "How To" ideas.