How to Measure an Employee’s Potential

It’s hard, from just reading a CV, to know whether you are betting on the right candidate. For many years, employers and recruiters have focused on the criteria of skills and performance. What if the key to finding the ideal employee is found elsewhere?

“Rather than insisting on looking for people with the ideal skills, who don’t exist or are not yet on the market, it is interesting to consider potential,” Justine Tirot, IT recruitment consultant, believes.

But what is potential? According to Justine Tirot, it is a “subtle cocktail” that relies on the ability of a candidate to develop rapidly within the company, demonstrate independence and be proactive.

Christina Bélanger, CHRP with BDO Canada, believes this is an important factor in a context where “businesses are constantly changing and need agile employees.” It is therefore essential to be attentive to candidates who demonstrate a good ability to adapt.

During the job interview…

To identify a candidate’s potential, Justine Tirot focuses on their performance during the interview.

“Can he manage his stress, be on top of our discussion, perceive the implicit messages sent, project himself into the job and the company?” or again, “Does he know how to adapt his speech and presentation to his counterpart?”, are all indications of whether the candidate will be able to meet the expectations related to his future functions.

“It is important to be able to assess his limits, especially the areas in which advancement can be envisaged,” the recruitment consultant insists.

According to Christina Bélanger, an individual with high potential is “someone who has a good knowledge of themselves and who is able to identify areas for improvement. He has a thirst for learning and a profound motivation to progress,” she says. According to the CHRP, past experience and achievements also represent good indicators.

However, potential cannot always prevail over skills and experience, especially when giving a promotion to an internal employee. “The factors to be considered must be the same for everyone – skills and years of experience are a part,” explains Christina Bélanger. In this case, HR strategies in place should not favour high-potential employees, because “this could have an impact on demotivation of colleagues,” warns the CHRP.

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