Moving toward skills-based hiring
Build a more inclusive hiring process and find exceptional candidates who might otherwise be overlooked.
What skills-based hiring can do for your organization
Skills-based hiring means evaluating candidates based on their abilities, rather than on where they went to school or previously worked. The goal is to hire the person most capable of excelling in the role, not the one who looks best on paper.
Increase the diversity of your talent pool.
Help more candidates from underrepresented groups showcase their skills by shifting the focus away from education and experience.
Identify the most qualified candidates.
Instead of relying on stand-ins, like a college degree, to determine if candidates can do the job, test them for the skills they’ll be using every day.
Broaden your searches.
Skills-based hiring allows you to find new, untapped candidates, lessening your need to compete with other companies for the same candidates.
Identifying the skills your business needs
Before you can adopt skills-based hiring, you’ll need to determine which skills are essential for the job at hand, and which can be taught later. Since business needs are always shifting, it’s important to reevaluate regularly.
Conduct a collaborative skills analysis.
Work closely with the hiring manager to understand the responsibilities of the role and the core skills needed to perform them well.
Meet with other employees on the team.
Speak to the people your new hire will be working with every day to get a more rounded view of the role and important work behaviors.
Don’t try to clone previous employees.
Avoid searching for someone exactly like the last person who held the role, which limits your scope to candidates from similar backgrounds.
Determine which skills can be learned.
Once you have a list of skills the job requires, separate them into those you need to test for up front and those that can be taught later.
Consider shifting business priorities.
Meet with leaders on an ongoing basis to understand how business needs are evolving and what skills you’ll be hiring for in the future.
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Reframing job descriptions for skills-based hiring
Since most job descriptions focus heavily on education and experience, you’ll need to adjust them to suit a skills-based approach. That way, candidates with the right skills will be encouraged to apply, regardless of their background.
Rethink degree requirements.
Unless a degree is essential (such as in some medical roles), consider removing educational requirements from job descriptions altogether.
Outline key responsibilities.
Summarize the job’s responsibilities to help candidates decide whether they could excel in the role.
Highlight desired skills.
Provide context and clarity by replacing strict requirements with descriptions of necessary skills.
Establish performance expectations.
Give candidates a sense of what success in the role would look like by including metrics or examples of the results your company hopes to see.
Mention growth opportunities.
Show there’s room for candidates to grow into the role by listing any learning and development opportunities you offer.
Job posts that highlight “responsibilities” without mentioning “requirements” get 14% more applications per view than posts that do the opposite.
How to write effective job posts that attract the right candidates
Get guidance on interview questions, job description templates, and tips to encourage qualified candidates to apply to your open roles.
Taking a skills-based approach to assessing and interviewing candidates
Traditionally, talent professionals have relied on what candidates did in the past to predict future performance. Here’s how to adapt your approach so you can evaluate candidates based on the skills they have now.
Evaluate candidates’ soft skills.
Ask candidates behavioral and situational interview questions to determine how they would handle themselves on the job.
Develop tests for hard skills.
Build objective assessments, such as coding tests or writing assignments, that allow you to easily compare candidates’ skills and abilities.
Simulate an on-the-job experience.
See the candidate’s skills in action by asking them to perform a relevant task, like giving a presentation, during the interview stage.
Minimize time-consuming and time-sensitive tests.
Don’t force candidates to complete tasks quickly, as this can put some at a disadvantage.
Validate your tests before giving them to candidates.
Ensure your tests accurately assess key skills by giving them to a current top performer before introducing them into your hiring process.
30 behavioral interview questions
Ask these questions to evaluate candidates for soft skills like adaptability, collaboration, and leadership, that are critical to a successful hire.
Onboarding employees recruited using skills-based hiring
Adopting skills-based hiring methods requires you to spend a little more time onboarding new hires, since they may not have worked in this type of role before. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the extra effort can pay off in big ways.
Empower and champion learning.
Provide professional development resources, opportunities, and encouragement from day one to show new hires that you’re invested in their success.
Turn potential into high performance.
Embrace the fact that employees who haven’t done the job before are less likely to be set in their ways, allowing you to direct their potential.
Get the whole team involved.
Turn onboarding into a group effort. This helps spread institutional knowledge across the team while giving new hires a chance to get to know their coworkers.
The complete guide to virtual onboarding
Use this 45-day checklist to set up new hires for success. Plus, learn the top five reasons employees quit and how to avoid them.
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