In Hiring, Prefer Potential over Competence

In Hiring, Prefer Potential over CompetenceCompanies looking for new talent will never be able to find candidates who possess experiences and skill development that have prepared them to meet the exact challenges that will face them in their new position. Yet, most firms favor job applicants whose have demonstrated competence in their past work responsibilities.

A better approach is to seek candidates who have developed analytic and problem-solving abilities that will enable them to make appropriate assumptions, identify key information, and conduct the proper research that will lead them to make reasonable decisions in any circumstance.

To identify applicants with high potential, interviewers must advance past the resume. Use the resume simply to eliminate the most unqualified candidates, and then forget about it. Don’t ask the applicant to expand on the information presented in the resume. Instead, concentrate on eliciting information about which skills the person used to flourish in his previous positions; which skills were particularly useful?

How did he employ them in innovative ways to get the job done?


Find out by asking the interviewee how he would respond to these situations:

• Sudden reassignment to another division

• A project he does not know how to manage

• Multiple, equally important assignments with not enough resources to complete them all