Though it seems time consuming, hiring people with less experience can lead to a more productive and dedicated workforce—if done correctly.

When going through the hiring process, it is important to remember the value of considering candidates who possess little to no experience. Though it can seem daunting and time consuming, acquiring these staff can lead to a more productive and dedicated workforce — if done correctly. These five simple steps can help.

1. Make the interview into a conversation.

Interviews are an intimidating experience for any job-seeker, especially someone who hasn’t been through the process before. When interviewing an inexperienced applicant, try to go beyond traditional questions about past work experiences. If they have nothing to draw on, they will either be unable to answer the question or may fabricate the answer they think you want to hear.

Instead, ask the question, “Tell me about yourself.” Allow the candidate to take the lead with what he or she wants you to know. Take what candidates tell you and expand on it as you move through the rest of the interview process. This encourages dialogue, helps to avoid rehearsed responses, and makes for a more productive conversation.

2. Don’t depend on resume keywords.

So many hiring departments rely on programs that seek out specific keywords within a candidate’s resume. The problem that arises from this type of setup is that it often weeds out candidates with less experience. This means that people with less work history but huge potential never get the chance to prove themselves or explain what they have to offer.

Soft skills are much harder to teach than hard skills. The problem is that many soft skills are not included in the words and phrases that employers search for when screening resumes. If you have to use a keyword selection program, attempt to incorporate keywords that have to do with soft skills, and not just those related to the procedural components of the position. This allows for applicants of varying levels of experience to have their information viewed by those doing the hiring.

3. Set up job shadows.

Somebody who is new to the workforce might not know what type of job would be a good match for their skillset and interests. If you are hiring in multiple departments, it is often worth allowing a candidate to spend time in several areas in order to see which position might be a good fit. If you only have one type of job open, give the candidate a chance to shadow one of the more seasoned employees in that department.

During the job shadow, encourage the applicant to ask questions and observe everyday tasks. Afterward, follow up to see how they felt about the experience. It is also important to solicit feedback from the person being shadowed in order to get their impression of the candidate. Though job tryouts take a bit of effort on the part of those involved, it is far less time consuming and much less costly than hiring and training someone just to have them quit within a short period.

4. Provide an employee mentoring program.

Any new job is scary. First jobs are often terrifying. Many inexperienced staff will, without a doubt, have some challenges to overcome in regards to building workplace relationships and integrating into a new environment. If they have never had to do this before, it will be much harder for them than for somebody who has experience in transitioning jobs.

One way to assist in this transition is to have a seasoned staff member act as a mentor to the newly arriving staff. Having a mentor in place gives an inexperienced employee a go-to person for questions and concerns. Mentoring also reduces workplace isolation and staff anxiety levels. You may also find that the employees acting as mentors show an improvement in performance, as they now know they are setting an example for new staff.

5. Set clear expectations.

If somebody has limited experience in a professional work environment, he or she may be naive to workplace etiquette. If you don’t set expectations and ground rules from the start, many inexperienced employees will make mistakes they don’t even realize they are making. They will fail before they get a chance to succeed. What’s more, you may need to change up how you present expectations, rules, and procedures to an employee who up — until now — has never really held a professional job.

Instead of just handing the individual a stack of policies or an employee handbook to read on their own, it is much more impactful if you take a few minutes in person. Point out the areas you know have been problematic for other staff in the past, and make sure the employee understands the reason as to why each of the rules is important. Allow employees to ask questions and take notes so that they are processing the information in multiple ways.

Final thoughts

As you move through the hiring process, remember that even the most experienced employees started somewhere. Try to avoid selecting candidates based solely on resume keywords and years of experience. Instead, be open to the idea of developing at least some of your workforce from the ground up. Keep in mind that employees with little experience can be trained and developed in ways specific to your company, thereby laying a solid foundation for long-term growth.

Laura Britting

Laura Britting has a MBA in Healthcare Administration and over fourteen years of experience in employment services and management. In addition to having a background in business, Laura also has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and advanced training in Emotional Intelligence and Motivational Interviewing. Her main areas of focus include staff training and retention, workforce culture development, and community impact.

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