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Hiring with no experience, whether on the employer’s side or the applicant’s, shouldn’t harm your hiring results. It may go against the historic belief in hiring, but let us explain. Experience for experience’s sake doesn’t mean anything to your startup, SMB or fast-growing company.
You need to look for more than just “experience” and resume-glossing. 

What have you done?

So much of the hiring process is predicated on learning what the applicant has accomplished. All the while, the whole point should be to determine what this applicant is capable of accomplishing for you. Past examples may not be the best way to predict.

Questions like this:

Tell me about a time you did _________.

Stand in your way when you really mean:

Tell me how, exactly and in highly specific ways, you will perform function ________ for my company.

Their past really doesn’t matter. You don’t care. Their fat portfolio of success guarantees nothing. You want to interview and ultimately hire someone by testing their ability to perform the job.

How do you predict success?

Well that’s the million dollar question. It’s the same question that led managers and business owners down the path of looking at resumes, cover letters and GPA’s. It makes sense and nobody can be blamed for looking at those indicators.

Instead of asking what this person did and when they did it, ask what they will do for you and how.  

We know, we know. But how can I ask this person to give me honest suggestions when they don’t know my business? You can’t expect each applicant to blow you socks off with ideas, but ask anyways. You should be able to tell if this person:

  • thoroughly thinks through problems
  • applies the sort of logic this position requires (analytical, big picture, tactical, strategical, etc.)
  • handles the difficult (and blunt) challenge that you unexpectedly present

If the candidate becomes totally flustered and can’t think straight, how does the bode for their performance in your constantly changing startup? You see their personality and resolve in this situation. Don’t shy away from asking about specific metrics and specific actions. 

Try different evaluation methods

Test your applicants. The strategic elements of many positions are too vague to study in a skill test, but you can still score functional skills. Set up customized evaluations, skill tests and questionnaires to quickly understand applicants as they apply to your hiring software. Applicant tracking tools give you simple, tangible data to inform your decisions.

Don’t rely on experience

Experience can tell you a lot and show you the accomplishments of your applicants. But we suggest you base your ultimate hiring decision on more. Test your applicant in real situations or in realistic scenarios.

You’ll be glad you did. 6 months down the road you won’t become another example of a candidate’s “past experience.”


Do you think hiring with no experience matters anymore? Let us know with a comment below or express your mind on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.


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