The Hiring Process: Which is More Important, Education or Experience?


Whether hiring someone in the fields of healthcare, retail or finance, recruiters tend to focus on factors of education and experience. A minimum education level is often a requirement, and many companies simply won’t hire candidates without at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. However, others focus more on experience in the field, which may be a more practical indicator of future success. Discover whether hiring managers should be focused on education or experience when interviewing potential new hires.

Book Smarts Won’t Translate to Career Success

Many applicants rely too heavily on their academic success when seeking out a new career. Having an advanced degree or a high grade point average at the undergraduate level can be a clear sign of knowledge, excellent study habits or intellect, but that doesn’t translate into career success every time. For example, someone with an MBA might have a firm grasp on managerial and leadership concepts, but they may be ineffective leaders once actually in the workplace. As a general rule, hiring managers should be wary of candidates who have yet to be proven in the workplace.

Even Unpaid Work Shows Dedication and Commitment

Unfortunately, hiring candidates with experience can pose a challenge when recruiting entry-level employees or fresh graduates from college. However, any work experience is better than an exclusive focus on education. Martin Birchall, of High Fliers Research, told the Huffington Post[1] that, “New graduates who’ve not had any work experience at all during their studies are increasingly unlikely to be offered a good graduate job after university.” Candidates who have volunteer or internship experience demonstrate commitment and an understanding of workplace culture, even if they have not been monetarily remunerated for their efforts.

Education and experience should go hand in hand during the recruitment process. Education, on its own, will not necessarily be an indicator of workplace success. Experience, while a better indicator, may not provide for long-term success and growth. Ideal candidates have a basic level of education and at least some workplace experience, even if not in the designated field.