This sounds really obvious…but isn’t the aim of any hiring about getting the right person in to a role (and I’ve underlined person for a reason).

However….the mistake made by many businesses, when making a decision on the person they’re going to hire, is that they focus far too much on  previous experience and, interestingly, previous experience is actually the least reliable predictor of future performance. Evidence shows that it’s only 25% accurate in predicting future performance – thank you The Chemistry Group for for that stat.

Focusing on previous experience, when making hiring decisions, also means missing out on a whole raft of potential talent. By ruling out candidates who don’t have a track record in a particular industry or role, businesses are effectively restricting the size of their recruitment pool, especially in a buoyant jobs market.

It’s easy to see why businesses tend to focus on previous experience. It’s re-assuring to know that they have done a similar thing for another company. It’s a comfort blanket. What’s more, it reduces training costs.

However, employers are not really comparing like-with-like, when focusing on experience. Two different companies are never the same. Just because someone has a wealth of experience doing a similar job with one; it doesn’t mean they are suitable for a similar role with another.

Or take the case of promoting someone in the business. Just because they are a great salesman, doesn’t make them a great sales manager or director.

Businesses should look beyond experience.

When you look at people who perform well – and conversely who don’t perform well – in their roles, 90% (89% to be precise) of it is linked to behaviours.

The evidence…

In a survey of 20,000 hires over a 3 year period, by Leadership IQ, 46% failed (were fired or under-performing) due to:

  1. (Lack of) Coachability – 26%
  2. (Lack of) Emotional Intelligence – 23%
  3. (Lack of) Motivation – 17%
  4. (Lack of) Temperament – 15%
  5. (Lack of) Technical Competence / Experience – 11%

So, only 11% failed due to experience.

As a consequence, doesn’t our approach to hiring need to be about attracting and screening candidates in terms of their behaviours

By doing this, we’re examining the wider facets of a person. And this is the point…because when a person comes to work they don’t just bring their experience…they bring everything else that makes up who they are…and their behaviours. So why don’t we seek to understand and incorporate this into our hiring?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that experience doesn’t matter. In does, and in some roles more than others. Experience is clearly vital if you’re a Doctor, less so probably in Sales, where passion, persuasiveness and personal impact are key ingredience.

Even with a Doctor, though,  the right behaviours are important –  you’d prefer  a Doctor who is sympathetic, sensitive and caring, rather than one with an arrogant and aloof attitude.

In fact, the data supports this assertion. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and you’ll find that the risk of a Doctor being sued for malpractice (the inability to do their job effectively as viewed by their employers, the hospitals) has little to do with experience and skills and everything to do with (poor) behaviours. Patients don’t file lawsuits because they’ve been harmed by shoddy medical practices, they do it because of  how they’re treated by their doctor at a personal level.  Patients who are the recipient of bad behaviours from their doctor – being rushed, ignored or treated badly – are those who are more likely to sue.

So what I’m saying is that the biggest challenge is not determining someone’s experience…because that’s relatively straight-forward based on their employment history (their CV). Rather, the challenge is to establish whether a person is a good all-round fit for a specific role.

I think that we need to be thinking differently about the way we hire, especially around behaviours. Hiring differently will mean different and better results – improving our hiring accuracy, reducing our recruitment costs and increasing the levels of motivation, productivity and performance of our people…and ultimately of our business.

Want to know how to do recruitment differently – and around behaviours? Read my next blog…and I’ll explain how.