Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges businesses face. We all know it’s important – we’ve read the stats around how much poor recruitment decisions cost companies (for those who haven’t the answer is PLENTY), but that doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it’s getting harder as candidates become wiser around how to impress in an interview and which buttons to press. They know the tricks, they do the research, and they come across slicker than Patrick Swayze in “Dirty Dancing”. The problem is that all too often the seemingly dream candidate doesn’t have the game to match the talk, and before too long they have become another turnover statistic.
So how does one separate those who really are genuine high performers from those who are all sizzle and no steak? It really comes down to two key points. The first is to know what you are looking for. What are the key competencies the job requires? What attitude and approach will match your aspirational culture and values? I cannot stress enough how much of a prerequisite this is for good selection decisions. The second point is taking an evidence based approach to how you design your psychometric process. The tips below are a sure fire way to improve your selection strike-rate.
Include psychometric ability tests
No matter how hard you try, you can’t fake ability. Psychometric testing has been shown to be one of the best predictors of future job performance for this very reason. Verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning tests provide a good broad picture of the candidate’s ability. Not all candidates need to be members of Mensa , and candidates can overcome a lack of natural ability through experience and hard work, but if your potential CFO is below the 30th percentile in numerical reasoning, you want to know. A word of caution – ensuring the tests you use are valid, reliable and directly relevant for the role at hand is a must.
Ability is not the only thing important in selecting the right candidate – in fact it’s not even the most important thing. Culture fit is even more critical. You might have the smartest, hardest working person going around but if they don’t fit culturally they will detract more from your organisation than they add to it. Reputable personality tests give you the ability to spot culture fit “red flags” ahead of time and determine whether a candidate is likely to be a cultural asset or liability.
It may come as a surprise to many that interviews aren’t actually all that good at predicting future job performance. Should we not bother with them? Not at all. It all comes down to how you design the questions and following the basic principle that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. To get past the waffle and work out whether they have what it takes, ask participants for specific, recent examples of where they demonstrated key competencies or behaviours. Training the panel in how to rate responses and overcome common biases helps a whole lot too.
Similar to interviewing, if you want to get valuable information from referees you have to ask the right questions. Checking references at the end of the process allows you to ask specific questions based on the knowledge you have gained throughout the previous stages. For instance, if the personality profile suggests the candidate is highly tense and tends to become impatient easily, ask the referee in-depth about how they handled stress in their previous role. It’s amazing how much better information you get this way.
My last point is that improving your selection strike rate takes discipline – and guts. You won’t get the decision right 100% of the time, this is a fact of life. But to hit 80% or better, you have to really listen to the information you are getting and made some hard calls – especially if you are looking for a team of genuine high performers. Selecting a candidate recommended by a friend whom you got good “vibes” from instead of someone who performed higher in the psychometric testing and interview doesn’t cut it. Playing the percentages and taking an evidence based approach definitely pays off in the long run.