Nina on couch

Behind the Brand: Nina

Welcome to the first edition of Behind the Brand - a series that highlights our employees and the topics within talent acquisition and HR that they are passionate about. First up is Talent Acquisition Consultant, Nina, and her take on the importance of skills-based hiring.


We’ve always felt that the people are really what makes Amby, Amby.

Which is why we wanted to create our Behind the Brand - a written series that highlights our employees and the topics within talent acquisition and HR that they are passionate about.

To get the series kicked off, we’re talking with Nina, a Talent Acquisition Consultant based out of our Oslo office. Her educational background is in HR Management and IT, and her experience is mainly from start-ups and scale-ups. She has previously worked A-Z on processes for junior to senior positions in tech, marketing, design, and people. In her current role, her main focus is identifying and sourcing global talent for tech companies in Norway.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I started my education in HR Management and I always wanted to work with people! I later dabbled a bit more in tech and while I enjoy it, I wanted to work more in the shared space between tech and people.


That’s how I headed into the tech recruitment space and also how I have come to care about skills-based hiring. It’s all about that blend of hard and soft skills, and how to find the right fit so that people can thrive at what they do.

What is skills-based hiring?

When you really break it down, skills-based hiring basically thinks about recruitment from a skills and potential standpoint, rather than what’s on paper. In other words, it’s about approaching the selection processes from a skills-set perspective rather than strictly past job experience or education.

Why are you passionate about it? 

I’ve always been a believer that not everyone performs well in a school environment, on exams, or in high-pressure situations. But this doesn’t mean that these people can’t be great developers, and colleagues, and have an incredible impact in their workplaces. That’s why making a hiring decision based off of “what’s one paper,” (i.e., someone’s academic performance or limited work experience) does not necessarily reflect their potential.

However, skills-based hiring doesn’t just apply to those without a formal education. It’s also a great way to prioritize those who have been working as freelancers, who have made a career change later in life, or who might not have the standard background or experience in that sense. Or even candidates who are on, or have recently been on, a sabbatical, parental leave, leave of absence, or long-term sick leave.

Just because they have a prolonged gap in their resume or a non-traditional work background, doesn’t mean that they should be deprioritized in the recruitment process. Opening up your mind to candidates who don’t always fit into a box from an education or experience standpoint is a great way to expand your talent pools and enhance diversity.

When is skills-based hiring most applicable?

You can technically use skills-based hiring in any hiring process, but that doesn’t mean you always should. In some contexts, it can be super valuable, but counterproductive in others.

From a seniority perspective, it’s more recommended for entry to mid-level roles rather than senior roles. This comes down to the fact that junior profiles don’t always have a background that’s representative of their potential, whereas more senior roles have had time to build up their track record. For example, you would absolutely want to see a proven track record for a leadership role (i.e., a COO), but that might not be the case when hiring for an entry-level role at the same company (i.e., BDR)

From a domain perspective, skills-based hiring can be a great approach when hiring for tech or commercial roles, since you don’t always need a formal education to be successful in the field (compared to say a lawyer or an accountant). As with most things, it does not always benefit every company, or profession, and definitely not every seniority. But if you’re looking to fill junior-mid-level roles that don’t always require a formal education, skills-based hiring can be so valuable for leveling the playing field, expanding talent pools, and building a rich and diverse workplace (LinkedIn, 2023).

How does skills-based hiring impact other areas of HR?

I think a skills-based approach to TA and HR has a strategic role to play in diversity, career development, retention, and satisfaction.

From a diversity standpoint, you have to remember that diversity really can mean so many different things. In addition to “traditional” diversity indicators (i.e., gender, nationality, etc.), you can also have diversity of thought, experience, and of course, skills. By embracing a skills-based hiring approach, you are inviting new hires into your company that might have been overlooked if you stuck to strict requirements, which promotes diversity early on in the hiring process.

When it comes to employee development, skills-based hiring forces you to focus more on an employee's skill set during the recruitment and onboarding processes. This enables you to understand their strengths and development areas, which in turn makes it easier to create a personalized and thoughtful development roadmap for each hire. By intentionally investing in their development, you can make them feel challenged and in a constant state of development, while also appropriately managing their workload.


It should come as no surprise that investing in the development of your employees is critical for retaining these employees - which is especially important now when it’s common for employees to jump from one job to another. It also establishes a clear and constant desire for candidates to align themselves with the most suitable job towards their own skill sets and aspirations. Given the substantial investment of time and effort that our careers demand of us, it is important to feel like the work we do is contributing towards our own growth.

Additionally, although experience in a particular field can serve as an indicator of the productivity and quality of someone’s work, it doesn’t directly guarantee that they’re motivated for their position. Even if a candidate has experience in a similar role or industry, if they feel that their skills are being underutilized they might stall out or lose motivation for the role. This is why from a recruiter’s standpoint, it’s important to think about experience, motivation, and skills when hiring and setting a development roadmap for new hires.

Finally, keep in mind that for some candidates, or current employees even, the importance of being able to grow and develop in their work environment sometimes exceeds minor raises in salary. To be clear, I’m not saying that you can offer development instead of compensation - compensating your employees at market level is critical for retention. It’s more to say that compensation isn’t a bandaid solution to signing a candidate or retention an employee. Sometimes, all they need to sign and/or stay is to feel like they are challenged, develop their skills, and grow into new roles.

Knowing that in regards to employee retention, there are so many variables that come into play, it would be short-sighted to believe that skill-based hiring is a fix-all solution. With this being said, there could be an argument to be made concerning the role of this strategy and its improvement regarding the retention of employees as well as placing candidates in a position that is best suited to their strongest features.

What can companies do to transition to skills-based hiring?

Unlike candidate assessment, hiring software, or other recruitment tools, skills-based hiring doesn’t necessarily have an “implementation plan.” But when it comes to transitioning to a skills-based approach, it can be helpful to think about how you can prioritize skills over credentials throughout the employee lifecycle.


From a recruitment standpoint, you can start with skills-based hiring as early as the job description. Challenge you and your team to rethink role requirements, and don’t put incredibly strict education or experience requirements where they aren’t actually needed. This also applies if you are actively sourcing for candidates - don’t automatically disqualify someone from outreach because they don’t have what you think you need on paper.

When it comes time for assessment, incorporating skills-based tests can help remove bias and level the playing field for candidates with different backgrounds. Here at Amby, we are lucky to have a rich applicant pool for our entry-level roles. To decide who to move forward within the process, we send out skills-based tests and personality tests to check for motivation and whether or not they are a fit for our working culture. After this, we coordinate a recruitment day where candidates have their skills tested across different tasks and groups, and where they get a chance to get to know us as an employer a bit better.

Later on in the employee lifecycle, there are different ways to incorporate a skills-based approach to your work. A good place to start is by simply asking new hires for feedback. Do they feel like their skills match the job they're doing? Do they feel challenged while also mastering the tasks they are there to do? You can also check their KPIs, and get feedback from their managers. In terms of the employee lifecycle, you can compare how long it takes these new hires to get promoted compared to more traditional hires (of course depending on internal opportunities and other variables). As always, you might be able to get some insight based on the sick leave, retention, and insights from exit interviews.

Nina's Picks

If you want to go even deeper into skills-based hiring, here are a few resources that I think are a great place to start!

Author profile Nina Hegland

Nina is a Talent Acquisition Consultant at Amby. She holds a degree in HR, and enjoys spending time with her dog, Doris.