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Best practices for skill-based hiring

How do you know who’s right for the job? Making the wrong decision can delay schedules, damage morale and cost your company at least 30% of their salary. In one study, 74% of employers say they have hired the wrong person for a job 1.

How can organizations stop making the same hiring mistakes?

What is skill-based hiring? Skill-based hiring assesses candidates on their hard skills and soft skills compared to traditional criteria like a college degree. It’s 107% more effective than hiring for experience or education 2. The benefits of hiring for skill? It can expand the talent pool, speed up the time it takes to hire, facilitate internal moves and reduce unconscious bias rooted in past job titles - a qualification that minority group candidates are less likely to be credited for. Most of all, it can better match true job competency.

How to implement skills based hiring?

1. Create a skills matrix

Interview your top-performing talent and find out what their strengths are. What specific skill do they use most often? What does a typical day look like, and how does it differ from another person doing the same job at the same level? Just 24% of workers report they do the same work as others in the same role. Even if the work they do differs, what skills do they share?

2. Rewrite your job posting to put skills first

Evaluate which skills are needed to do the job. Rewrite the job description and put those skills centre stage. What skills will you expect them to use day-to-day? What transferable skills would benefit the role? Focus on the results you’d like to see, instead of the type of person you think could deliver those results.

3. Train hiring managers and talent acquisitions about the new hiring process

Make sure everyone is on board. Talk to the hiring manager about hiring for skill. Give them the facts - hiring for skill is 107% more effective than hiring for experience or having a degree requirement. Explain the potential risks of hiring someone you ‘spark’ with because they are similar to you - also known as the ‘mini-me’ bias 3.

4. Consider a skill assessment to identify competence

Ask potential candidates to complete skills tests or create a scenario designed to put the skills you’re looking for into action. If you’re looking for a product owner with leadership skills, ask them what they would do if the next release of their product was due tomorrow but there are a number of bugs on it. Or create a simple assignment, then conduct a follow-up interview to ask them about their process in completing the task - their answers will give hiring managers insight into their core competencies and skill sets.

Are you ready to put skill first?

With a few simple changes, skills based approach to hiring can help organizations make the right hiring decisions while reducing time to hire, increasing workplace diversity and reducing unconscious bias.



  1. The Cost of a Bad Hire, NorthWestern
  2. The skills-based organization: A new operating model for work and the workforce, Deloitte Insights, 08 September 2022
  3. When Hiring, Prioritize Assignments Over Interviews, Harvard Business Review, September 27 2022