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Most Companies Still Use Pre-Industrial Revolution Hiring Processes ( By Lou Adler)

Date Posted: July 5, 2018

I make the contention that if you can’t measure quality of hire, you can’t improve it. As far as I’m concerned that’s the reason quality of hire hasn’t improved in the past 100 years. In fact, I contend that hiring processes at most companies are based on pre-industrial revolution processes. That’s about 175 years ago. If some of you can’t remember that far back it was a craftsman environment, everybody built things using their own tools and techniques, teaching was via apprenticeship and every product made was quite a bit different than the preceding one.

So if you have hiring managers who still ask their own pet questions; don’t provide real job specs but contend they’ll know the person when they see him/her; and/or eliminate good people for dumb reasons; and you have interviewers who use thumbs rather than evidence to evaluate people based on biases, needs and emotions; you can assume you’re using pre-industrial revolution concepts to find and hire people in the modern era. This is worsened if you don’t have enough strong recruiters and sourcers who can find and attract the best people to join your firm.

Now you might want to wrap this in AI, a brand new ATS with CRM capability, a nice candidate experience, and a sexy employer brand, but this only masks what’s happening below the hood.

As far as I’m concerned, until you have a complete end-to-end process (comparable to a sophisticated sales process) that actually attracts great people and gets them hired within budget on a consistent and predictable basis, you will stay stuck in the real olden days.

The solution requires measuring quality of hiring at every step in the funnel for feedback control purposes and then comparing how the predicted quality of hire maps to actual quality of hire.

In a process like this tracking the right metrics in real time is how you ensure the person hired is the best person, not just the one who made it through the gauntlet. This type of feedback loop will tell you when your process is out of kilter and allow for immediate corrective action. It’s this type of thinking and process control that has enabled every other non-HR business process move towards six sigma-like improvements in quality, efficiency and reliability in the past 40 years. Sadly HR has not even moved the needle. Collectively that’s why quality of hire hasn’t improved, job satisfaction is at a dismal 30% for the past 20 years and turnover is increasing.

When it comes to hiring, the tipping point in all of this is the need to measure and track quality of hire pre-hire. Without this benchmark, you’ll spend too much time on being more efficient rather than getting better. With this idea in mind, here’s how I’ve been measuring quality of hire on my last 1,000 search projects. (This video explains how to implement the process using the graphic shown.) It starts by asking the hiring manager if he/she would hire someone who met the following criteria:

  • The person has a track record of accomplishments comparable in scope, scale and size to what’s required to be successful in the new role.
  • There is clear evidence the person’s performance has consistently been in the top half of his/her peer group throughout the bulk of the person’s career.
  • The person has been assigned to participate and lead important teams similar in scope and makeup to the actual job requirements.
  • The person has the capacity and track record for solving comparable job-related problems and making complex business decisions likely to be faced on the job.

Just about 100% of hiring managers agree they’d not only meet a person who met this criteria but would also want to hire the person. With this agreement I then make the point that if a person is evaluated based on past performance doing comparable work and he/she has been successful based on the above criteria, the person obviously has the right mix of skills and experiences required. And in most cases this mix will be different than what’s written on the original job description. In fact, the best people will have less, and diverse candidates by definition will have a much different mix of skills and experiences. Getting agreement on this is a critical step in the process since it proves that traditional job descriptions are the cause of the problem, not the solution.

Competency is Not Enough. Job Fit is the Key to Better Hiring Decisions.

But measuring competency to do the actual work required is not enough to predict on-the-job performance. In addition, the person needs to find this work intrinsically motivating, the person’s style needs to mesh with the hiring manager’s and the person needs to fit with the company culture and environment. I call these the Fit Factors, and without a good fit on all of these measures the person will underperform.

With this foundation, all you need to do to measure and predict Quality of Hire pre-hire is to rank candidates on the 1-5 ranking scale shown. Then once the person is on board rank the person again on the same factors at 60-day intervals. Since each factor is in comparison to real job needs and the fit factors, any variances will be easy to spot and correct. This is the basis of a feedback process control system and as you’ll discover, is the critical first step in building a modern era business process for hiring top talent.

Lou Adler (@LouA) is the CEO of The Adler Group, a consulting and training firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring. He’s also a regular columnist for Inc. Magazine, SHRM and BusinessInsider. His new Performance-based Hiring self-paced learning course is now available 24/7. His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013) is now being published in Korea and Japan. It provides hands-on advice for job-seekers, hiring managers and recruiters on how to find the best job and hire the best people.