Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

How to Recruit Candidates With Zero Relevant Work Experience

In the recruitment world, most sectors and disciplines are extremely “talent” short, therefore, hiring managers have to become more receptive and agile to hiring potential employees who do not necessarily possess the most relevant (if any) work experience pertaining to the role required.

What is the recommended process to ensure the match is still suitable for both parties and to guarantee that the incumbent employee has the best induction to ensure success in the role?

It is often mused that a good leader would rather hire someone who has the right attitude over like-for-like experience. I have a very simplistic view that knowledge can be taught but attitude can’t be. We can learn buzzwords, we can expand and grow our knowledge through speaking to people doing the job and over time we
become wiser. However, having tenacity, care for our work, being honest and ethical – these are attributes I hold much more important than X amount of years doing the job.

Yet how do you measure these factors and ensure that someone is still capable in terms of the technical aspects of the job during your interview process?

Who do YOU know?

My first recommendation is to interview through internal recommendations – basing this strategy on accepting those who are successful already in your business, you can offer an internal reward scheme to do this as it incentivizes staff to refer their social group. However, err on the side of caution by still basing your entry criteria on your essential behaviors and attributes.


Benchmark your current team- using psychometric profiling to understand what science is behind their success; you can’t just use a “gut feeling” to establish what makes your top biller a top biller! You need to scientifically break down how their brain functions. Use a specialist to assess the results and use them in the interview process to question the interviewee. Don’t doubt the results either.

Day trial

As part of your hiring strategy, allow the potential employee to spend minimum half a day with the team and manager they are going to be working with; let them experience the highs and the lows of the reality of the job. Allow them an open forum to ask questions, spend time with people independently. And give everyone a chance to feedback on the potential hire as well as this not only allows them to feel appreciated and valued but they may have picked up on a nuance that you haven’t during a more formal interview.

Be receptive

Very often hiring managers to overlook transferable skills when setting out their requirements and with the structure often dictated by the HR partner, it can be difficult to hire off the official job brief- it is very important to be receptive as a hiring manager but also to educate your colleagues about what skills a person possesses that may prove more invaluable to your team rather than a ‘like for like’ hire – you can create a much more creative and inspiring culture by hiring people off spec who add their own flair. An ensemble of talent rather than a crowd of clones? What do you think? Is it important to always hire off a job spec or can you be creative and hire someone with zero work experience? How brave are you?

By Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.