Choosing from Candidates with Little to No Experience

Hiring the right person is a difficult task, but when your candidate pool consists largely of recent graduates who mostly have little to no experience, that job becomes vastly more challenging. It’s hard to find a winning hand when everyone is holding the same (not so experienced) cards, but in the end, we must always make a decision.

First, take a step back. This situation is not unique—all of us have been there from time to time.  Before you lose yourself amidst a mountain of worry, know this—the right candidate does exist. I stress the word ‘”right,” as all too often we get hung up on the notion of perfection—it doesn’t exist, so kill that thought right now. If you find yourself in a situation where all candidates are equal and making that crucial decision seems impossible, here are some selection methods to consider:

Form a gang

Okay, so don’t go all West Side Story on me—there’s no need for leather jackets or knives. You’ve got a highly qualified consortium at your fingertips: the team that this potential colleague will get to work with. You should use them to your full advantage. Their input is going to be valuable, as this new employee will need to integrate into this team.

Consider bringing your “short list” in to meet the key players, or even better, the entire team. Even an hour of togetherness is plenty of time. As the old adage goes, “First impressions are the most lasting.” Allow the team to provide their feedback, possibly create a rubric and see which candidate is the best fit. From my experience, those who are able to create bonds with their potential teams tend to increase morale and overall productivity.

Call on culture

Since filling an open position is expensive and risky, it’s important to consider who each potential employee will mesh with within your company’s culture.

If you’re not currently enlisting the help of a cultural index, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Similar to team dynamics, employees who embody the culture of your organization not only tend to be greater producers, but their tenure and long-term contributions to your organization often increase.

Rehearsal reckoning

They say that actions speak louder than words, and in this case, actions speak louder than resumes. If you’re finding yourself stumped, don’t rule out the possibility of a trial run. Whether it be an entire day or another period of time, having the candidates come into the office and dive into a “day-in-the-life” can be well worth the small investment. Remember to set the bar appropriately; asking them to close the biggest deal of the year is probably out of the question, however putting the candidate under a bit of daily stress may be the differentiator you need to make your decision. At worst, you’ll likely narrow down the pool.

Beg the question

There are times when throwing out the time-honored question “Why should we hire you?” is necessary. This may be part of your normal repertoire—if it is, jump directly to the next tip. If not, posing the question and giving consideration to the answers provided may be the perfect way to discern who is really ready to step into the role you have to offer.

Let’s not kid ourselves: Some people are better at interviews than others. While this skill is wonderful for a job seeker, it muddies the waters for those in hiring positions. Asking this pointed question may provide insight and allow those with a clear picture of how they will benefit an organization to shine. Again, let’s be honest: If you’ve got all the right answers but can’t articulate how your hire will positively impact the organization, there’s likely a better-suited candidate.

Grab ahold of your gut

Instinct has guided humans for thousands of years, so why do we all try and dodge its persistent voice? Resumes, tests and interviews may result in attunement, but don’t discount your natural feelings. When all else fails, if that little voice inside your head is telling you what the outcome looks like, there may be good reason.  You may not be able to explain it, but relying on intuition as a rule of measure may be the only way to ascertain the top candidate.

Facing difficult decisions can seem unbearable and at times it can make your head spin. The act of selecting the best employee is made much more difficult when inexperienced candidates come in bulk. If you remain of sound mind, follow the tips above and do what you ultimately believe is best, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the right person for your organization.

Read more of Michelle’s writing on the ResumeEdge Blog, here.