Why You Should Hire for Potential in Today’s Market

In this competitive market, finding candidates who tick all the skill and experience boxes for a role can be a tough ask. However, being open to hiring candidates with transferable skills and a good attitude can go a long way towards overcoming skill shortages that might otherwise stop a recruitment process in its tracks.

Unlike hiring based on direct experience, hiring for potential gives you access to a new pool of quality people who, while they may not meet 100% of the role criteria at the time, still demonstrate traits that make them a great fit for the organisation. Although this may not be the best approach for highly technical or senior positions, there are still many IT roles in which a bit of flexibility will allow you to benefit from people who will grow with your business and become valuable assets in the long term.

Below, we break down the rewards of hiring for potential and share practical tips on how to conduct a recruitment process that will draw out the best talent for your company.

The Benefits of Hiring for Potential vs. Experience

Unlike days gone by, when employers focused almost solely on a job candidates’ direct work history, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that there are benefits of hiring someone with less experience. This non-credential-based approach, widely referred to as ‘hire for attitude and train for skill’, can provide several major advantages, including:

Diverse viewpoints

Employees without experience in a similar role have no history to cloud their vision or create expectations about how things operate in their new organisation. Hiring people with diverse backgrounds and skill levels brings fresh perspectives to your organisation, allowing you to tap into innovative solutions and ideas. Furthermore, their growth-oriented mindsets often see high-potential hires being more likely to take calculated risks – risks that can pay off for the wider team.

Reduced employee turnover

While specific technical skills can be taught, work ethic and cultural fit cannot. Taking a chance on someone because of their experience alone could mean hiring someone who is not right for your team, which might result in costly employee turnover later down the line. A person who is coachable, motivated and whose values align with those of your company will be a much safer bet, even if they require a little extra training to get them up to speed.

Long-term loyalty

As opposed to highly experienced prospects who may have several job offers coming to them at once, candidates with fewer formal credentials will likely be grateful that you’ve given them a shot, despite their lack of experience.

While you may have to spend a little more time and effort training up your new team member, they are likely to value your investment in their development, and their longevity at the company will more than make up for it over time.

Steps for Hiring Candidates with Potential

When it comes to assessing experienced vs. inexperienced employees in the recruitment process, several things can assist in deciding who is suitable for the role.

1. Expand your search

When hiring with potential in mind, start by expanding your search parameters, whether that means considering people with different qualifications or those with relevant experience in other industries. This will widen the talent pool and open the role to candidates who may have previously been left out of recruitment efforts.

2. Know what to look for when assessing CVs

The CV alone often does not provide enough information for you to identify potential in candidates, however, there are several elements that can indicate whether the person fits the job description and company culture. For example, outside of formal education, what upskilling have they completed? Does their resume demonstrate instances where they have overcome challenges to succeed and contribute to team goals? What other jobs have they had, and what transferable skills are they bringing to the table?

3. Ask the right questions

When hiring candidates based on their potential, it is crucial to ask the right questions in the interview, as they can help you find out about a person’s ability to cope under pressure, along with their broader values, attitudes, goals and problem-solving skills. The way a candidate answers these types of questions will reveal a lot about how they will ultimately fit into the company culture.

Questions to consider include:

  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • What have you done to develop your skills in the past year?
  • Describe a time when you encountered a difficult problem while on the job. What was the outcome, and would
    you do anything differently next time?
  • Does one of our values resonate with you in particular, and why?

4. Utilise psychometric testing

Another valuable tool for assessing candidates’ potential is psychometric testing. Since interviews and references checks aren’t completely reliable on their own, this is a good way to verify the traits and tendencies an individual has demonstrated elsewhere in the hiring process, but keep in mind that it is best used in conjunction with other strategies.

By incorporating personality and ability tests into your hiring process, you can gain more insight into characteristics such as the candidate’s interpersonal style, task management preferences, problem-solving skills and their ability to tackle abstract concepts.

5. Get specific feedback from referees

If, at the end of the recruitment process, you are still unsure if a candidate is right for a role, taking detailed references is a fantastic way to learn more – particularly if it is a previous employer. It can be helpful to provide the referee with an overview of the candidate’s position and the future goals associated with it, so they can give specific feedback as to whether they think the candidate has the required potential and the challenges they might face.

Don’t forget to enquire about the person’s on-the-job attitude and resilience under pressure – no one will have better insight on this than a past manager or colleague.


In an increasingly competitive business landscape, hiring for potential will allow you to find people who will grow with your business and continue adding value in the long term. While identifying the right people for your business can be a challenge, the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone.

At Emanate Technology, we are technology recruitment specialists who know what it takes to spot potential in candidates. With offices in both Canberra and Brisbane, we have extensive talent networks and dedicated consultants across a range of technical verticals, meaning we have the reach to find you the very best talent for your needs. Don’t leave your next hire to chance – reach out to us today to learn more.