Dan Maxwell
July 5, 2018

Too often we’re surprised by the person we took all that time hiring. This is both frustrating AND costly.

How does this happen?

  1. We really don’t know the people we’re hiring. There simply isn’t enough time in the typical recruitment process! We try to “get a sense” about candidates, figure out if we like them, or if they’ll “fit our company culture”. But these are highly subjective approaches, open to opinion, bias, and whether we like what someone is wearing.
  2. We often guess at the most important factors – things like character, I.Q., soft skills and personality. A search for what makes someone a top performer, will place these factors at the top of the list. A referee’s comment, a glance at the school/degree, or a few questions about past experience are NOT enough to accurately assess these most important drivers of success.
  3. We aren’t using the measurements available. Ethics can be tested. Marks can be reviewed. Character can be assessed. But how many take the time to include these in their evaluation process?

This is enough to explain why hiring feels like a gamble. We do a poor job evaluating the most important factors. No wonder we cringe at the thought of what will happen next time we bring someone on board.

“Simply put, a hiring manager shouldn’t take such gambles. Making hiring decisions like this opens organizations up to unnecessary risk and costs that can be avoided” (Jon Edgar, The Gambling Hiring Manager).

True, these are intangibles. We are talking about motivational traits and soft skills. But in the North American economy there is a renewed emphasis on these very factors e.g. These Are The Five Soft Skills Recruiters Want Most – Fast Company.

And … it’s not true these things can’t be measured or accurately assessed. In fact, there is a whole industry behind the measurement of personality called “psychometrics” – using statistical analysis to identify and measure human traits. Moreover, there is research to support how much better it works to use them: Pre-hire Assessments: An Asset for HR in the Age of the Candidate – Aberdeen Group.

How can we reduce the odds of poor hires?

Certainly, do a good job of the basics: create job ads that attract the right people; gather the facts – through resumes and social media; do structured interviews and thoughtful reference checks.

More importantly:

  1. Create a Model of the traits which drive high performance for each position.
  2. Compare every Candidate’s traits against this Model.

By using a model and measuring traits:

  • We can better understand a person – before we make the choice to hire them.
  • We won’t be guessing at one of the most important factors for success.
  • We will be using available tools to reduce avoidable mistakes.

In short, there will be less chance of a poor choice and more chance of a confident decision.

Hiring doesn’t have to be a gamble!