As an employer, you may be faced with this very difficult question when you have two qualified candidates offering different things to the job at hand. Both hiring experienced employees and those with less experience under their belts, but who have great potential, can be the right choice. Really, it boils down to the specific job you are hiring for and the company culture. Here’s what you need to think about before you decide to hire potential or hire experience.

Hire Potential

A candidate with potential is one who shows that he or she has the qualities and abilities to develop into something greater in the future, namely success and usefulness at the company. Don’t limit yourself to experience if the individual’s past work doesn’t perfectly align with the position at hand — make sure the personality, insight, engagement, brains, humility and motivation are there. That said, choose someone with potential only if there is someone at the company who can serve as mentor and guide him or her as he or she grows. Potential needs to be fostered.

Hire Experience

Hiring experienced employees doesn’t mean that you are going to avoid the list of qualities I listed above. But perhaps not quite as much weight would be put into all of those factors if the candidate was kicking butt in his or her career, with experience that aligned very well with the open position. What you’ll get is someone who can put the car into drive from his or her first day and needs less handholding or oversight.

Neither potential or experience should be overlooked during the new hire interview process. What has your experience been with hiring experience or potential?