Hiring Good People: Increasing your Chances of Getting it Right
Imagine you’re at a party and you meet a man called Bill who is a great tennis player. He’s easy to talk to and you chat about the tournaments he’s won. Later, when someone asks you to recommend an MC for an event, you might immediately think of Bill even though the only things you know about him are that he’s good at tennis and you felt a connection with him. This is an example of the “halo effect”, where someone is good at one thing and we assume they will be good at other, unrelated things. We use these shortcuts in our thinking all the time as they save us time and mental effort to get through the thousands of decisions we make each day.
Thinking shortcuts (of which there are over 100) are often helpful. Maybe Bill will be a good MC and it has saved you the time of considering all your friends in detail to make a relatively unimportant decision. However, when the stakes are higher, such as when hiring a new employee, it’s important to be aware of any shortcuts in our decision-making and take steps to mitigate the risks of getting it wrong.
Having worked with hundreds of organisations as they grow and develop their teams I have seen firsthand these shortcuts in action. We tend to favour people if they’ve been recommended and can rely on our “gut feel” during interviews . Whilst these are of course valuable sources of information, they can lead us down a trap of hiring people without considering the full picture. How will this person operate in a new environment? What might be the hidden risks of hiring them? Are there other candidates who could do the job even better? With the cost of a poor hire ranging from 30% to upwards of 150% of salary, it’s crucial that leaders understand as much as possible about the people they’re looking to bring into the team.
Research shows that whilst informal interviews and references are the most common hiring methods, they can actually be fairly poor at predicting success. What does increase your chances of getting it right is adding psychometric assessment including a behavioural style profile and cognitive ability tests. Crucially, assessments must be carefully selected, interpreted and debriefed by a professional and integrated with other data. The insights from assessments should be used for onboarding and development, not just as part of the selection process. Candidates need to be supported throughout and should always be offered feedback, regardless of the selection outcome. Used properly (which unfortunately isn’t always the case), these tools broaden your knowledge about the candidates and allow you to make an informed decision.
- Use the right assessments
- Interpret based on the role
- Integrate with other data
- Use for onboarding and development
- Clear communication and support to candidates
Getting recruitment decisions right the first time is one of the most important things you can do for your bottom line, culture, reputation and performance. So, the next time you’re recruiting for a role, remember tennis-playing Bill and ensure you include fit-for-purpose psychometrics as part of a robust selection process.