3 Ways to Successfully Assess a Candidate with Little Industry Experience

When hiring for an open role, experience isn’t everything. In fact, it should only be part of the reason you bring someone to your company. There are many other qualities that will enable  employees to thrive and provide value to your organization, and it’s important to evaluate candidates on these attributes as well.

Therefore, it’s important to be able to properly assess candidates during the interview process, especially those who may not have much experience in your company’s industry, but who have transferrable skills that can allow them to shine at your company.

Here are some tips to help determine how to effectively evaluate candidates on these skills:

Closely examine the applicant’s resume and cover letter for examples of transferrable skills to your industry. Since the person is looking to make a somewhat drastic career change, they should answer why they’re looking to do so in their application materials. If they’re able to effectively communicate this, you’ll feel more confident about their prospects at your organization and more likely to move them forward in the interview process.

Consider pre-screening the candidate through a test or a real assignment. According to SHRM, such an assessment can be highly important. “The purpose of employee testing is to help the employer predict how well an individual will perform on the job. Hiring the wrong people can be expensive, and selection errors can have a negative impact on employee morale and management time, waste valuable training and development dollars, and reduce employee productivity and a company’s profitability,” according to the organization.

You can test the candidate through written assessments, by asking the person to put together a presentation or even work on a mock project and share how they’d go about performing the task. By doing this, you’ll have a much stronger idea of how they’d do on the job even without the typical industry experience required.

Gauge the applicant’s enthusiasm during the interview process. Enthusiastic employees are engaged employees. When workers are excited about the job functions they serve, they’re more likely to perform well because they’re eager to learn, improve and achieve results. Try to spot evidence of potential workers’ passion for previous work, as well as for the job to which they’re applying.

One specific way you can assess this is to conduct a phone screen or in-person interview in which you ask direct questions about a candidate’s accomplishments. Depending on how they respond, you’ll get a sense for their confidence level, their self-belief, and just how excited they are at the prospect of transferring those experiences to the open position at your company.

In conclusion, while experience is important when finding strong candidates to hire, there are other skills and abilities that can make up for a lack of specific industry experience. By closely examining resumes and cover letters, conducting an assessment and gauging enthusiasm you’ll have a strong handle on a candidate’s ability to succeed at your company.