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Hiring for a Competitive Advantage, part 2

By June 3, 2014 May 30th, 2016 No Comments

(This is a continuation of part 1 of this article, found here)

Verify Abilities

The interview process is an experience that is hard to duplicate. It allows executives to check the more sensory-oriented aspects of a candidate, such as their ability to communicate and their interpersonal skills. It represents the human sidehiring for a competitive advantage of hiring. An interview can help make predictions about a person’s suitability for a given job and how well they may “fit” the organization’s culture. As selection expert Dr. Charles Handler puts it, “Years of research into the interview process suggest that the accepted validity coefficient (i.e., the accuracy) of the traditional (unstructured) employment interview is between .10 to .20. In non-geek speak this means that, across the board, interviews predict an applicant’s actual ability to do the job with only between 1% to 4% accuracy, suggesting that between 96 and 99% of what it takes to effectively perform a job is not being measured by your employment interview.”           

To verify what you think you learned about a candidate in an interview, a thorough background check will make sure the candidate isn’t putting up an appealing facade. The reference check is designed to help guarantee that the individual can perform as promised, that he has a positive work ethic, and that he can be relied upon for some time to come. All negative impressions from previous employees should be taken into serious consideration, and it may be necessary to weigh the potential benefits against the potential wasted time during a failed tenure.

Gain a Statistical Advantage

Due to the overall subjectivity with which executives approach the hiring process and the informal processes most often used, the final decision is often made largely through gut instinct. After all of the careful scrutiny, analysis, and questioning that goes into the process, executives say that it almost always comes down to an intuitive decision.           

Hiring is a demanding process and is largely subjective. The difficulty is that there are simply too many variables in play to make a decision that will likely result in a highly productive employee. Some say that three good hires can’t make up for the problems caused by one bad hire. To reduce unintentional bias and mistakes inherent to the traditional hiring process, executives should incorporate more science-based data to get a more accurate picture of the applicant and likely future performance.           

Today, the hiring process can easily be augmented with comprehensive personality tests and cognitive analyses. While most applicants can manage their images for an hour in an interview or spin their resume to appeal to the targeted audience, personality and reasoning tests are much more difficult to manipulate. These simple virtual tests measure cognitive ability, personality, how a candidate might actually perform, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. From these tests, it’s actually possible to tell within a high degree of confidence whether they’ll be happy with their job and their position within the company culture.           

Cognitive reasoning is a simple enough measure to gather for each candidate. Quick questioning within a few separate fields helps rank candidates by their ability to solve problems, conduct verbal reasoning, communicate, and deal with numerical information. While certain qualities may be unimportant in particular scenarios, it’s clearly wise to hunt for candidates with a strong learning index and the appropriate level of verbal skills. When candidates’ abilities match those required by the job, they’ll be much more successful and confident.           

These assessments can also measure behavioral traits such as sociability, assertiveness, attitude, decisiveness, independence, and more. Responses can help the hiring team learn quickly how a potential employee would fit in the existing job culture and if they would fit with management’s current practices. If you find a highly dependent employee in a small, relatively self-managed organization, for instance, then you will need someone to direct this individual to make sure he or she stays on track.           

Measuring behavioral traits is an effective way for hiring managers to staff leadership positions or even round out teams by providing balance within divisions. Research demonstrates that teams made up of diverse personalities are often more productive than heterogeneous teams, so work to actively fill out your staff (http://bit.ly/njIaHn) with compatible yet differing personalities.           

As always, however, executives should measure the candidate’s strengths against the position for which they are hiring. When hiring a software designer, the individual will rarely require the same leadership skills that you would look for in a project manager. Understand the position, decide what qualities are needed for this position, and tailor the interview to test these strengths and weaknesses.           

A strong leader can grow and inspire current employees, while new personalities in existing teams can round out group dynamics to increase productivity and efficiency. Finding an employee who will work well within the company and provide profitable longevity is therefore crucial to the success.           

Personality and aptitude pre-hire assessments are accurate and can help predict future success on the job. They provide a significant statistical improvement over the traditional go-with-the-gut hiring mentality. And, if you have ever made a hiring mistake, assessments give new meaning to “what you see is not always what you get.”

The Holistic Approach to Hiring

In the future, it may be wise for organizations to take these practices into consideration to improve their chances of hiring a successful and viable candidate. A holistic hiring approach requires managers to analyze candidates on both the personal level and from the scope of the greater organization. Before analyzing each candidate, executives should first answer the following questions: Where will the individual be placed within the organization? How will the individual be interacting with colleagues? What will the candidate be doing? What is the company’s/team’s culture?           

Making hiring decisions based upon skill or personality alone can only take a business so far. By blending the two, your organization will gain a competitive advantage great enough to tip the scales in your favor. Invest in the future of your company through an educated hiring process, avoid brash decisions, and strengthen your organization.