‘Hit the Ground Running’ Defined

We hear the phrase but what does it really mean?
By Jane Kennelly, Director, Frog Recruitment

We often hear hiring managers describe their ideal candidate as someone who can ‘hit the ground running’. Through experience, we have learned this phrase means many things to many people so we decided to take a closer look to see what lies behind this comment.

Firstly, it is pertinent to note that the world of talent attraction and sourcing isn’t safe from the language of war in business. In the workplace we engage in campaigns, strategies, tactical strikes, and barrages, while commanding resources, manoeuvring, and avoiding collateral damage. Just like organisations use military terms to describe daily operations, the term ‘hit the ground running’ is a military analogy where paratroopers can land safely on their feet and immediately start running towards the target.

As recruiters, experience has shown us that when an organisation wants someone who can hit the ground running, they are typically looking for someone with a very specific set of skills and experience which may have taken years to learn.  It is not uncommon that the hiring organisation or department may be under pressure to deliver results or the organisation has a limited capacity to train new staff members in technical aspects of the role. So it naturally follows that the hiring organisation will be looking for a candidate who can quickly become a successful addition to the business.

We add that in addition to having high level of experience, a ‘hit the ground running’ candidate needs to be adaptable, flexible, and thrive on challenges.  So, the question then becomes; “How to identify this?”

Questions an interviewer may ask to qualify this type of candidate will focus on whether this candidate can think creatively and quickly. For example:

  • Provide an example of where you needed to quickly learn new skills or acquire knowledge. How did you go about doing this and what were the results?
  • Provide an example of where you have undergone change in a role and where it was difficult to adapt. What was the situation and how did you handle it?
  • Provide an example of where you were sceptical about change or a new idea. What was the situation and how did you react?

If you have a comment to make about ‘hitting the ground running’, please do share them with us.

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One thought on “‘Hit the Ground Running’ Defined

  1. I tend to agree with pretty much everything that was written throughout Window Shade “‘Hit the Ground Running Defined |
    Frog Blog”. I am grateful for all the advice.Thank you-Bernie

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