Experience is Overrated – Michael Dennis, CBF

Repetitive Tasks
Repetitive Tasks

Looking back, I believe that one of the mistakes I made when interviewing for collectors was to focus too much attention on experience and talent, and not enough on other attributes of candidates including: trainability, enthusiasm and work ethic.

Why? Because I equated ‘more experienced’ with ‘better at their job.’ I don’t think I am alone in making this mistake.

More experience is not always better. Five years of collection experience can be either: (a) 5 years of constant learning involving new and progressively more challenging assignments in business debt collection, or (b) One year of experience involving mind-numbingly boring, repetitive, unchallenging work repeated 5 times.

Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM
Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM

Please consider this suggestion: The next time you are hiring, think about these factors at least as much as you consider an applicant’s related work experience: Attitude, Aptitude, Enthusiasm, Personality and Work Ethic. This is what I plan to do.

What are your thoughts?

Michael C. Dennis is a key contributor to the Encyclopedia of Credit, a free, online resource for Credit and Collection professionals: www.encyclopediaofcredit.com

5 Replies to “Experience is Overrated – Michael Dennis, CBF”

  1. I totally agree with you. My old boss and I hired a young man with several years experience but turned out to be difficult to train. I learn something new every day. Keeps me confused and on my toes.

  2. I’m not sure I agree that experience is overrated, but certainly schooling often can be. Some of the best collection people never got beyond a high school graduation, but they are top in their field. I do agree that more emphasis needs to be placed on the personality, work ethic and capability of the person being interviewed. However, with collection, nothing supports better than experience. After 35 years in this field, I’ve seen a lot people come and go, but the best of the best had experience. Add to that the other traits and you’ve got a winner working for you.

  3. I completely agree with Michael on this one! When person brings a good attitude, aptitude, enthusiasm, work ethic and personality to the table they can be a true asset to your team!
    I believe I was hired back in 1989 because I possessed these traits. I had little to no experience in Credit and Collections. My manager mentored me in the credit field. We have both gone on to different positions and we are still friends today!
    I am a firm believer in never underestimating anyone! We never know what talents lie beneath the surface. Keep digging and you may find a diamond! 🙂

  4. Who we hire is a reflection on us as managers just as much as how we approach their professional development. Hiring by just looking at one area like experience will never get good results. An experienced person that is active in the credit community and has taken training for personal and professional growth is the best find.

    Well rounded people make well rounded employees especially in the collection arena where we cross over into many facets of business.

  5. I certainly agree. I went through many “experienced” collectors via a temp agency with many bad habits or shortcomings. I built my own tests to determine characteristics I wanted in a good collector.

    She was great with the customers & could calm them if they were upset, determined to help resolve problems, organized and efficient. Guess where I found her…up at the receptionist desk being undervalued and underpaid. I asked if she would like to give it a try – no obligation. I taught her to use a computer, recognize payment behaviors, post payments etc. She’s been doing it for over 12 years very successfully.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *