Don’t Let the Past Dictate the Future, Hire for Future Potential

Sep 14, 2020

Are you hiring for past performance or future potential? Research tells us new hires are eight times more likely to fail for having the wrong attitude than they are for lacking technical skills.

To beat the odds, the goal of every interview should be to get to know the person as well as their expertise. The best way to do this is to listen more and talk less. Be genuinely curious about the candidate as a person and create a psychologically safe space that encourages them to talk.

Your job as the interviewer is to move the candidate past persona and toward transparency. This means if you focus on past performance and get no further than rehearsed responses, you’re likely to miss major risk factors for an unsuccessful hire.

Interviewing in person is hard enough, let alone over video. In either case, set the stage from the onset of the conversation by letting the candidate know you are excited to learn all about them. Establish boundaries and expectations by letting them know you would like to spend the next xx minutes learning more about them and that you will leave the last xx minutes for them to learn more about your organization.

No matter the position, you’re going to want to hire for potential rather than solely on what the candidate has done. You don’t want to assume the attributes that made someone success in the past will continue to make them a success in the future.

Organizations that want to hire the best people, specifically for a remote environment, need to rethink how they evaluate candidates.

When teams work from home, at least half of all communication is done in writing as opposed to speaking. How does the candidate like to communicate? How strong is their written communication skills? Do they check the tone of their message before hitting send?

How about collaboration? Without physical space to gather, collaboration has its limitations. Do they have a sense for ample communication verses overwhelming communication? Do they know when it’s time to step away from the keyboard and pick up the phone?

What about adaptability? Do they have a primary fixed mindset or growth mindset? Remote jobs offer flexibility, but they also require being able able to adapt to new ways of working, random changes, and unexpected situations. All of which do best with a growth mindset.

And then there is the issue of focus. Distractions are plenty when working from home. What is their approach to maintaining their focus and keeping their cool?

Time management is also a critical skill to have when working from home. How do they stay productive? Do they block off time for dedicated focus when needed.

Encourage storytelling by asking for examples. The more recent the better. Listen closely. The words a candidate chooses are clues to their likely success as a new hire. Red flags include answers that are vague. By contrast, current, specific examples will give you an idea of the candidate’s future potential

It’s time to rethink the notion of hiring. If you move beyond hiring for past performance and start thinking more about future potential and your company will thrive.