Training vs. Experience: What to Look For in Hiring

When it comes to hiring new team members, one of the most critical decisions is determining whether to prioritize experience or invest in training. While experience brings expertise and a proven track record, training allows for moldable candidates who can be developed from the ground up. Making the right choice depends on various factors, including the specific role, team dynamics, and company culture. In this article, we will explore insights and tips on evaluating candidates during the hiring process, considering the pros and cons of experience and training, and determining whether experience or personality/attitude is more important to the success of your team.

Pros and Cons of Hiring Based on Experience


  • Immediate Contribution: Experienced candidates can hit the ground running, requiring less time to get up to speed and start contributing to the team. Their familiarity with the industry, processes, and tools can lead to quicker results and increased productivity.
  • Industry Knowledge: Hiring experienced candidates brings valuable industry knowledge and insights. They often possess a deep understanding of market trends, best practices, and potential challenges. This knowledge can be leveraged to improve decision-making and drive innovation within the team.
  • Reduced Training Time and Costs: Experienced candidates require less initial training, which can save time and resources. They are already equipped with the necessary skills and expertise, reducing the need for extensive onboarding and ramp-up periods.


  • Resistance to Change: Highly experienced candidates may have developed ingrained habits or ways of doing things that can be resistant to change. This may limit their ability to adapt to new approaches or disrupt established processes.
  • Higher Salary Expectations: Candidates with extensive experience often come with higher salary expectations due to their proven track record and added value. This can impact the budget and compensation structure of the team or organization.
  • Limited Fresh Perspective: Highly experienced candidates may have a more narrow focus due to their specialization and accumulated industry knowledge. This may limit their ability to bring fresh perspectives or innovative ideas to the table.

Pros and Cons of Hiring Based on Training and Potential


  • Moldable Candidates: Hiring based on training and potential allows you to shape candidates to fit specific roles and company culture. You can train them in the specific skills, tools, and processes required, ensuring they align with your organization’s unique needs and values.
  • Adaptable to Change: Candidates with less experience may be more open-minded and adaptable to change. They may bring fresh perspectives and new ideas, as they are not limited by previous industry practices or preconceived notions.
  • Cost Savings: Hiring candidates with less experience often comes with lower salary expectations, which can benefit your budget. This allows for more flexibility in compensation packages and the allocation of resources.


  • Longer Ramp-up Time: Candidates with less experience will require more training and time to develop the necessary skills and expertise. This can delay their ability to contribute fully to the team and may require additional investment in training and mentorship programs.
  • Uncertainty of Performance: Without a proven track record, it can be challenging to gauge the potential performance of candidates who require training. There is a level of uncertainty about how they will adapt, learn, and grow within the role and the organization.
  • Skill Gap: Candidates with less experience may have gaps in their skill set, requiring more effort to bridge those gaps through training and development. This can result in a longer learning curve and increased reliance on team support during the initial stages.

Determining the Importance of Experience vs. Personality/Attitude

  • Role Specificity: For highly technical roles or specialized functions, experience may be crucial. Roles that require specific certifications, licenses, or extensive domain knowledge often benefit from candidates with prior experience.
  • Team Dynamics: Consider the existing team dynamics and culture. If the team lacks specific skills or expertise, hiring an experienced candidate who can fill those gaps and serve as a mentor may be the priority. On the other hand, if the team thrives on collaboration and innovation, a candidate with the right attitude and potential for growth may be more beneficial.
  • Organizational Goals: Align your hiring decision with the long-term goals and vision of your organization. Consider whether your focus is on maintaining stability and immediate impact (experience) or fostering innovation, growth, and long-term potential (training).
  • Training and Mentorship Resources: Assess the availability and effectiveness of training and mentorship programs within your organization. If you have robust programs in place to nurture and develop talent, candidates with potential may be a good fit.
  • Job Market and Talent Pool: Take into account the availability of experienced candidates in the job market and the competition for top talent. If experienced candidates are scarce, you may need to invest in training and development to cultivate the talent you need. 


In conclusion, the decision to prioritize experience or invest in training depends on various factors, including the specific role, team dynamics, and organizational goals. Experienced candidates offer immediate contributions and industry knowledge but may resist change and come with higher salary expectations. Candidates with potential require training and have a learning curve but can bring fresh perspectives and adaptability. Assessing the importance of experience versus personality/attitude depends on role specificity, team dynamics, organizational goals, available training resources, and the talent pool. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can make informed hiring decisions that align with your organization’s needs and foster long-term success.

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