Past performance vs future potential – which matters more?

Passive candidates

It’s a key question for so many of the companies that use recruitment agencies in Belfast and other parts of Ireland: do you hire on the basis of a candidate’s past record, or instead their potential for the future?
Hiring has so often been done on the basis of the former – after all, that’s what most tangible. However, with so many of the people who look great on paper failing to succeed once they actually get the role, many HR managers are now questioning that tradition.
Supposedly great candidates fail for so many reasons. The really important thing is to avoid such bad hires happening at your company.

Does there need to be a shift in the hiring process?

Some people think so. They include the global talent and leadership expert Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, who has called for those hiring to look more at future potential and less at past competencies. The latter, he defines as the ability to grow into new challenging roles and adapt to continually changing business environments.
This doesn’t mean that you should completely disregard past performance. It does, however, flag up the importance of hires being a good cultural fit for your organisation.

How to interview to ensure the right ‘fit’

Is the person that you are considering hiring able to fit in with your firm’s culture and vision? To determine that, you’ll need to use the right interview style.
You’ll need, for example, to communicate a clear vision for the role. This will leave the candidate in no doubt about what is expected of them. You should consider the characteristics of your ideal candidate and ask questions designed to show evidence of this, or lack thereof.
A good interview with someone of ‘potential’ will also reveal the candidate’s values and motivations. You need to see evidence of the candidate’s ability to get on well with your current team members.
You will also need to get the candidate to demonstrate behaviours – such as work ethic – that will make them a success at your company. If the person that you need is a self-starter who can be productive straight away, for instance, the interviewee will need to give examples of when they have overcome obstacles and achieved goals.
Recruiting on the basis of someone’s potential doesn’t need to be a high-risk game, but it does depend on doing your homework prior to the interview so that you ask the right questions. Recruitment agencies in Belfast like Webrecruit Ireland can only make that job easier.


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