When you're looking through your candidates for a position, do you consider education or experience more important? Actually, you shouldn't favor one over the other necessarily. Some candidates might have the experience or a skill that you're looking for, even if they gained that skill somewhere else. And other people might have the education, but their experience might be just a little bit off for the job that you're trying to fill. So how do you balance the importance of these two qualifications when you're looking at candidates? Here are a couple of suggestions.
Most candidates aren't a perfect fit. You'll need to prioritize skills and consider which candidates can offer the most important ones. Hiring isn't exactly like following a recipe, and you need to be flexible and have your eyes out for candidates that have skills that you maybe never even considered. For instance, you might have a candidate that has a quality that you weren't originally looking for, but that quality will give your company an edge.
Use Pre-Employment Assessments
As an employer, you shouldn't prioritize experience over education or education over experience. But you can use pre-employment assessments to determine what someone knows and how likely they are to be able to quickly grasp new material. Some assessments target specific skills, such as knowledge of a particular computer program. Other assessments target a person's ability to quickly work through general questions on verbal and quantitative abilities.
Consider the Position You're Hiring For
If you're hiring for an entry-level position in many industries, candidates also need to learn a lot about the company, and many businesses are looking for candidates who have the ability to adapt and learn new things. But they also want someone who will show loyalty to the company. If you're looking for a candidate that will be able to grow into other positions, and if you're going to have to train them on many things that are specific to your company, then you might place temperament and education over experience. Education, even in an unrelated field, can show an ability to learn and drive oneself. And if the position and your future goals for a candidate are more based on things that they'll need to learn on the job, then experience might not play as important of a role. At the same time, there are plenty of college dropouts with successful careers in their fields, so sometimes a college degree isn't the only way to measure intelligence, vision, and work ethic.
Many companies are looking for the ideal candidate for a position, but you might not find one that matches all of your ideal criteria. The hiring process requires reflection on the qualities that matter most, and hiring managers need to be able to read the fit of candidates on many levels throughout the hiring process.