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The ultimate hiring question; potential vs experience

Posted by
16 May 2016
One question that I am asked time and time again by candidates is whether clients look for potential or experience in new hires. I noticed a few years ago that almost all clients that were recruiting at the senior level would interview both sets of candidates, but invariably would hire a more experienced individual, as they were deemed as being able to hit the ground running and add value from day one.

However, even though there are certain benefits to a ‘safer pair of hands’, many feel that this is a very short-term solution and the better way to hire is to think about long-term potential and cultural fit.

The bigger question should be “who is going to have the biggest overall possible impact on the organisation?”

These two viewpoints also come with a number downsides which hiring managers need to consider. When bringing on a more experienced individual the business may be getting someone who has their own established methods that might not actually match the organisation’s standards. They might be less flexible when the role begins to evolve and may even be restricted by not wanting to re-train and implement new and improved processes. Furthermore, one notion that needs to be considered seriously is that past performance doesn't guarantee future success.

When appointing someone for their potential, businesses have the ability to mould the individual to fit the organisational needs, however, a substantial time and investment will be required in training the candidate, potentially for the first 6-12 months of their employment. This means it will take longer to realise the return on their investment. In addition, a less experienced candidate is an unproven entity that could end up either being great or a very costly problem.

In addition to potential versus experience that many candidates in the accountancy sector always question is “why do most clients ask for industry/sector specific knowledge and experience as my skillset is transferable?” There are many similarity with this question but I will write my thoughts on this next time.

In conclusion, both philosophies have valid benefits and will ultimately come down to what situation the company is currently at and where it is aiming to go in the next few years.
If you are require assistance in your recruitment strategy, please contact me by calling 0161 834 1642 or email for a confidential and consultative discussion. Contact me
Tagged In: Finance, Recruitment
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