When to Take a Chance on an Inexperienced Applicant

by Mammoth Team on August 25, 2016


If you’ve ever hired someone, you’ve likely come across resumes from candidates who appear clearly unqualified for the job. Sometimes though, for one reason or another, an applicant with no direct or seemingly relevant experience captures your attention.  

The promising applicant could be an exceptional employee, but hiring him or her poses risks. Having never done the specific tasks of the position, they may not actually be able to do the job. They could be great. They could be terrible. And there’s only one way to find out.

In such cases, the safer bet would be to hire one of the experienced candidates. If you’re up for a high-risk, high-reward approach, however, the bigger gamble may be the better bet. If you’re open to hiring inexperienced applicants, here are a few signs of potential future excellence:

Cultural fit:

If the applicant shares your company values and believes in its mission, they’re more likely to go the extra mile for the success of your organization.

In fact, studies have shown that employees who fit well with their organization, coworkers, and supervisor:

  • were more likely to remain with their organization
  • had greater job satisfaction
  • identified more with their company
  • were more committed
  • showed superior job performance

There are many ways to hire for cultural fit - we’ve put together three helpful strategies for you to use.

Eagerness and ability to learn

Years of training often can’t compete with on-the-job experience. Unfortunately, inexperienced applicants usually have neither. What they might have is an eagerness and a proven ability to learn new skills and job duties. If you suspect this is the case with an applicant, ask about situations in which they had to master something new and rose to the occasion.

Translatable skills

As a lot of jobs have become more specialized, many have gained a very specific skill set. If you’re hiring for a job that requires specific technical skills, you may have a hard time finding applicants that fit. The better candidates may be those without the exact skill set you need, but whocould, with a little training, quickly learn the position. For example, the most promising applicant for a technical writer position at a security software company may be the one who’s never written about security technology, but has an excellent writing voice and has shown a mastery of other technical subjects.

No bad habits to unlearn

Experienced candidates sometimes come with bad habits. They’ve been doing the work you need for a long time, and they may be used to doing their work in a way that’s inefficient or doesn’t mesh with your workplace environment. If you’re concerned about a candidate’s set ways, you may have more luck with a candidate whose habits you’ll be in a position to help form.

You certainly don’t want to create a business culture that doesn’t value experience, but experience isn’t everything, and it isn’t always the most important quality of a job candidate. Sometimes, the candidate most likely to shine is new to the field or type of role you’re hiring for. And, sometimes, it may be worth taking a chance on their potential.

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Topics: Culture

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