My solution to hiring people – credentials vs. values and skills

Everyone who has ever wanted to start a business knows how hard it can be to pick the right people for your team. You are who you surround yourself with, so you’ll want to be careful when making this choice.


You announce that you’re looking for people, you receive their CVs and it’s just you and their applications.

What to do next? How to choose who’s right for you?

I can tell you from experience that the selection process is not easy, but it’s well worth it.


Once you start reading all the applications, you’ll quickly notice that some candidates have great credentials, but little experience, while others may not have an impressive list of academic achievements, but they fit your company’s values and even more importantly, they have potentially precious skills.

How can you compare these two and who do you choose?


I cannot answer this dilemma for you, but I can give you some useful advice.

Here are two examples of candidates you might consider

  1. When it comes to credentials, you will surely see candidates that were great students and have a high GPA. If they lack in the experience department, you should still give them a chance. Talk to them and see if their academic success can translate into real-life business. If so, then you have a strong candidate who may need some initial training, but who could be an important part of your team.
  2. Another candidate may come in with significantly less credentials, but he has the same values as your startup and he even has some experience. He too can be a great candidate, sometimes an even better candidate than the one who has nothing but credentials.


How to choose between knowledge and experience?

It’s never just about credentials on one side and skills on the other side. You need to meet with your candidates, talk to them and get to know them. During your interviews, you’ll discover whether someone has nothing but credentials or he has potential to be a great employee as well. Look at all the signs, ask them how they would react in certain situations in order to anticipate what kind of employee they might be. Never discard someone just because he doesn’t have experience (yet!). That person might work extra hard, they may become the best at what they do and if you are the one who gave them their big break, they would be loyal to your company. This is something you shouldn’t underestimate.

How about the other candidate, the one with skills, but less credentials?

He too can become a valuable part of your team. Just because he didn’t do particularly well at school doesn’t mean he’s not a great worker. It can be quite the opposite! Some people are just better at getting the job done than at studying theory at the university. If you think about it, your team could really benefit from his experience and skills. So when it comes down to choosing one of these too, I would strongly advise you to consider them both, to get to know them and give them a chance.


Neither skills nor credentials should give someone any priority over others

You are hiring a person because of everything he is, my advice is to focus primarily on their values, as your team needs to share the values of your company. If they do, you should choose the candidate based on their potential performance within your company. One position may require more theoretical knowledge, another may need some experience, it all depends on the position in question. It is up to you to make a thorough assessment of all applications and to pick the right individual based on a large number of factors. Never stick to just credentials or skills, you need a person and if you adopt a holistic approach, I am sure you’ll find the right candidate for you, no exact formula needed!


For more info and advice, check out or contact me directly, I’ll be glad to help.

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