Detecting Skills Gaps During Hiring

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The workforce is facing a skills gap and 44% of workers’ core skills are expected to change in the next five years. What does this mean for the employees you’re hiring today? Assess job candidates’ skills gaps and be prepared to address them with these tips.  

  1. Use a skill test during the screening process. 

Skill tests can be valuable tools to demonstrate the extent of a candidate’s knowledge. Be mindful to choose tests that are tried-and-true, and comply with any applicable employment or anti-discrimination laws. While these tests can help identify skills gaps, they aren’t infallible. Even great job applicants can earn lower-than-expected scores. If a candidate happens to fail the assessment, weigh the score with their application, resume, and interview to determine if you’d like to move forward.  

  1. Identify existing skills gaps on your team.  

Pinpoint which skills your team needs by conducting a skills gap analysis to prioritize the ones you look for in interviewees. A candidate may offer skills that the organization is lacking but aren’t required for the job they’ve applied to. It may be possible to leverage this as an opportunity for team collaboration on a broader scale. 

While you craft your list of interview questions, have candidates rate their coachability, flexibility, and willingness to learn, as this can offer insight to how they may adapt to upskilling and reskilling. If any portion of a candidate’s application gives you pause, allow them to further explain their background as they may have experience related to the skills needed for the role.  

  1. Get a second opinion. 

While making educated hiring decisions, listen to your instincts and be aware of the possibility of implicit bias. Invite a trusted peer to meet the candidates, join interviews, discuss your point of view, and offer a much needed outside perspective. Someone with a fresh view can help determine how wide a candidate’s skills gap is and the level of training that would be required to fill it.  

It may be worthwhile to hire a candidate who lacks key skills but is willing to learn and would be a fantastic fit for the team. On the contrary, there are benefits to hiring candidates who don’t require additional training, even if they might not fit perfectly into the team. The right answer will depend on your specific company culture, goals, and priorities. It’s not a decision to take lightly and having a peer to talk through it with can be beneficial. 

  1. Have a plan.  

Should you hire a candidate with a skills gap, clearly communicate expectations and a timeline for their training. Determine if training will be executed in-house by current employees, through workshops, or extended classes, and make sure it’s in the company’s budget. Have this plan in place before your new hire’s first day on the job.  

If your new employee struggles to pick up essential skills, ask what support they need to improve, and be knowledgeable beforehand about what you can offer. If there is genuine interest in seeing improvement from both you and the employee, it’s entirely possible for the situation to be resolved. Approach every conversation with respect and patience, and work together to find solutions.  

  1. Reskill current employees.  

Potential hires aren’t the only ones who can benefit from identifying their skills gaps. Make it a priority to offer tenured employees training opportunities to aid in their professional development and reskilling for the future of the organization.  

What steps have you taken to help an employee who had a skills gap? Let us know in the comments! 

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