Ways to Evaluate a Candidate’s Growth Potential

You post an ad to fill an entry-level position. Your first concern: Can they do the particular job? Close behind in priority lies another question, one that’s maybe more important long term: What can they contribute to the company in the future?

You might be hiring for an intern now. But that barely-out-of-the-dorm-room hire today could become a divisional manager a few years down the road.

Spotting and nurturing talent makes your entire organization stronger. But how do you find that hidden potential? How do you identify the future executive superstar in the scruffy, inexperienced kid interviewing for your entry-level positions.

Here are four things to look for as you go mining for future top brass in the mass of incoming resumes:

Don’t Make Assumptions

Wading through resumes represents a time-consuming slog. It’s easy to fall into short cuts in order to move things along. Things like “young equals potential growth” or “good school equals intelligent.”

This process is accelerated by technology. Plenty of companies peddle software meant to simplify the hiring process with algorithmic skimming of resumes. But the assumptions these employ can actually turn you away from potential talent.

Of course, you can't meet every candidate personally. You'll have to apply some kind of test to separate promising resumes from the rest. But stick to truly important red lines - like skills requirements – rather than using secondary signs that may lead to a hasty false conclusion.

Resume Green Flags

You’ve heard of red flags, right? Clear signs that a candidate might not be right for the position. Now we’re looking for green flags, subtle hints the candidate possesses a hidden skill.

Scan resumes for indications they tend to move beyond simply getting the job done. Look for awards or commendations. Hunt for indications of entrepreneurial spirit, from actual self-started business ventures to leadership of clubs and other organizations. 

Interview Questions

The interview provides the best chance to learn about a candidate’s personality. Don’t waste the opportunity. Don’t let it become a live reading of their resume.

Go beyond simple recitation of the person's background and try to identify some of the candidate's hidden talent. Pose questions that reveal the candidate's long-term potential.

Ask them about times they've taken initiative. Find out if there are entrepreneurial ventures they didn't list on their resumes. Use queries like “Tell me about a time you had to adapt in the workplace” or “What do you enjoy learning about?” These should tip you off about their ability to grow in the organization.

Ask Their References

You don’t know your potential hires very well, and it's hard to get to know them in a brief interview setting. But you have access to people who know them better: their references.

Obviously, references are hand-picked by the candidates to provide a good recommendation. So, frame queries appropriately. Stick to factual questions, like “Was [the candidate] ever in line for a promotion?” or “Were they ever put in charge of a project?

Bringing in the talent with growth potential makes it easier to drive your organization forward. Today's hires become tomorrow's leaders, as you expand the company and take on new challenges.

Teaming with a strong staffing partner helps you bring in this top talent. United Personnel can recruit the kind of people you need to drive success, both now and in the future. Contact us today!