We, as hiring managers, all want the perfect candidate.

We want folks who have the title, they have done the job before, and will have an immediate impact. But those folks are hard to find, pretty close to unicorns 🦄.

What's the solution?

Start looking for folks with lots of potential but have hit a ceiling in their current role. Look at their trajectory/potential rather than their experience.


  • Ask yourself: what are the important skills for this role? Most JD's are written like a kid's list to Santa Claus (I'm guilty of this!).
  • Interview for curiosity, determination, engagement, motivation, ability to handle ambiguity, and ownership.
  • Look internally. You will often find amazing and passionate folks inside your company that are ready and willing to learn a new role.

When to hire for experience?

  • If the candidate won't have enough time to learn.
  • Not having someone in this role is impacting the organization, and you need someone to move quickly.
  • Your team or organization does not have the ability to teach and help the candidate.
  • You need a candidate with very specific industry or technical knowledge.

How to interview for potential

  • Look for significant career growth. Could be career pivots, learning new skills, etc.
  • Give lots of time for their questions. You're looking for research and deep thought.
  • What have they recently taught themselves? How did they go about it?
  • Dig into a project where they failed, how did they learn from it?
  • Ask what they would need to do to be successful in a role that is one level up from their current role.
  • Do they restrict themselves to their responsibilities? Or are they going above and beyond.