Greater Than Experience

In most cases:

  • Attitude: I would hire for attitude over experience. Someone with the right attitude can quickly gain experience. The person with a good attitude is a better hire than an experienced person with a poor attitude.
  • Skills: I would also hire for skills before experience, too. Especially people skills. Someone who knows how to work with people is a better hire than someone who has experience but extremely poor people skills. Most of us produce results through and with other people.
  • Character: A person with high character is always a better hire than someone with bad character, regardless of their experience. Severe character flaws eventually cause serious problems. Character flaws always eliminate any value in the person’s experience.
  • Work Ethic: A person with a great work ethic is always a better hire than someone who is lazy. A hustler with little skills will outproduce an experienced person who refuses to do the work. Lazy people are never a good hire, no matter how much they know.
  • Coachable: Coachable people are better hires than people who believe they know enough and have no real need to learn anything new. The coachable person can grow, but the non-coachable person will stagnate, becoming less effective over time.
  • Willingness: The better hire is one who is willing to do whatever it takes over someone who is unwilling to do what is necessary. This is true even when the unwilling person has great experience. The experienced person may know what needs to be done, but not doing what needs to be done is the same as not knowing.

When Experience Matters

In 1992, I had a brain surgery. In this case, I wanted the best person in the world for the operation I needed. I cared deeply about their experience with this particular type of surgery. I chose someone with extensive experience and a history of massive successes. I didn’t care about his attitude or his coachability.

There are some cases where experience matters a great deal and some where experience outweighs almost any other factor. But most of the time, experience shouldn’t be weighted as heavily as it is in hiring decisions.

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