Is the candidate’s experience really important?


Many employers still treat the candidate’s professional experience very meticulously, hoping to save money on training a new specialist. And they do a disservice to themselves: the company not only does not win, but even loses. Job vacancies stay empty for a long time, promising applicants are eliminated due to lack of experience and they find another job. So what qualities, if not the experience of the candidate, should one bet on when recruiting an applicant ?

What? Haven’t you read it yet? You should read the interview in the “Office at the Corner” series in the New York Times, a conversation with Spreecast CEO Jeff Fluhr, the StubHub co-founder, the man who certainly knows something about recruiting and retaining talented employees.

In this interview, Fluhr does not hide his indignation about the traditional, cowardly careful selection of employees, in which only those who have already done similar work in a similar company (of the same extent, working in the same industry, the same region, etc.) become candidates.

In fact, you want to put a copy of its former owner on a vacant place, but this person should be filled with fresh forces, breathing with enthusiasm (most likely, a younger one, though you do not recognize this). You are looking for a cog that can be inserted into the mechanism without any special difficulties, so that the mass of the enterprise continues to move to the heights.

But Jeff Fluhr thinks such an approach is wrong. He explains this idea in the above interview:

“What I was often doing at StubHub as the company grew was to say, “O.K., we need a V.P. of marketing and we want somebody who’s been a V.P. marketing at another consumer Internet company, and hopefully, they’ve done these certain things because that’s what we need.” But the reality is that if you get somebody who’s smart, hungry and has a can-do attitude, they can figure out how to do A, B and C, because there’s really no trick to most of these things.

One of the things I tell people is that experience is overrated. I still sometimes find myself falling into the trap of thinking, when I’m trying to fill a role, “Has the person done the work that the role requires?” That’s the wrong question. It should be, “Let’s find a person who has the right chemistry, the right intellect, the right curiosity, the right creativity.” If we plug that person into any role, they’re going to be successful.”

The arguments of Fluhr are intuitively clear: after all, only in narrow-profile or high-tech areas can be justified such a radical requirement to have “at least 10 years of successful experience of similar work”.

Indeed, who will take a risk to lie down on the table for a neurosurgeon or take a flight with a pilot, be they executive ones, but with no experience?

As for the many other hard-to-close vacancies, admit to yourself: the problem may be, at least in part, in your thought that you have already had an ideal candidate who has already done the very job for which you are hiring him/her.

Ask yourself: do you really want to find the most talented employee, or do you need someone who simply does not need to be trained and who will not distract colleagues with constant questions about professional jargon and highly specialized abbreviations that are “so important” for your success?