Dear Liz,

I managed a group of ten people up until last year and I hired two people in 2015. In both cases, I was stuck at the final stage of the hiring process. I had several good candidates to consider, and I couldn’t decide whether to hire the person with the most experience (and the most relevant experience) or to hire a different candidate with significantly less experience, but an obvious passion for our work and a lot of brains and heart.

As it turned out, in the first hiring process of 2015 I hired the more experienced candidate, and in the second hiring process I hired a less-experienced candidate with a ton of talent (we’ll call him Mike). Both of the folks I hired in 2015 are doing very well and they enjoy their jobs.

Now I have a new job in the company, and I have a lot of hires to make between now and the end of 2016. Interestingly, I had my annual review last week. My boss “Jake” made a comment about my two new hires from last year. He said “You hired two great people, but in particular, you made a great move hiring Mike. He is on fire! Whenever I need something from your team, I go straight to Mike if you’re not around. He is a great team member.”

My manager’s comment really stuck with me. How do I decide how to balance our need for experience versus raw talent?

Thanks Liz!

Yours,

Andrew

Dear Andrew,

Congratulations on making those two great hires, and on your boss’s compliment! That is great news.

Hiring is a human process, and that’s why I wouldn’t want you to rely very much on rubrics or hard-and-fast rules in your hiring decisions. You hired one person for their experience and the next person for their potential. As long as your hiring is not discriminatory, you can use your judgment in making hiring decisions, and consult your trusty gut as well.

A big part of making great hires and building a tremendous team is dealing with Mother Nature, our greatest teacher. One time when you run a job ad, you’ll get deluged with excellent candidates and the next time, crickets! You can’t always predict what kind of response you’ll get to your job ads and other forms of outreach promoting your job opening.

You have to deal with reality, which means that you’ll hire the best person available (by your own lights) at that instant. Companies that let job openings sit for five or six months are clueless. A great way to curb this practice is for a leadership team to make it known that any job vacancy left unfilled for more than 45 days will disappear. It won’t get filled.

Managers who care about talent make recruiting their highest priority. They interview candidates promptly and make a hiring decision within a few weeks.

Hiring is completely situational. If you already have tons of people in the department with deep experience, then you might make your next hiring decision looking for someone with less experience but more of other qualities you need on your team, from communication and leadership skills to a thirst for knowledge.

Hiring is sensitive to your environment. There is no rule like “In your hiring decisions, give 45% weight to experience, 35% to talent and 20% to education.” It doesn’t work that way! People are whole. They are unique. To make a good hiring decision, you have to sit down with each person and get a sense of his or her style, goals and career path so far.

You have to picture each candidate working with you and your co-workers. You’ll share as much as you can about the job description and your current challenges with each applicant, and you’ll ask them “How would you approach this assignment? What things would you focus on first, second and third?”

You’ll  listen to their stories about having solved similar types of Business Pain in the past, in other jobs or volunteer assignments. You’ll confer with your colleagues, and bring your team into the decision-making process too. Then you’ll sleep on it and hire one of the people you interviewed — the one who hits your brain, heart and gut as the best person for the job at this moment.

It’s a non-linear decision, Andrew, and you don’t need to break it down into particles. You’ve done brilliantly in your hiring so far. Keep up the good work!

All the best,

Liz

This article was written by Liz Ryan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.