Four ways to improve the hiring process through metrics.
By Jennifer Beck
As worldwide leaders continue to provide universal advice in business, organizations seem to ignore their idle statements—and I am not sure really why. Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook with a net worth of $36.5 billion, said during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, “I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person.” It could be that maybe in corporate America we ignore such advice due to threat to the ego. But I do believe if we inserted Mark’s practice just one time going forward, we could make a big difference with people and business outcomes.
Another leader you may recognize—he is only the richest person on the planet with a net worth of $78.2 billion, cofounder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and founder Microsoft—is Bill Gates. In 2013, he penned an article for the Wall Street Journal, My Plan to Fix the World’s Biggest Problems. Even though a few years old, his advice transcends and could improve both quality of hire and retention.
Gates’ solution is pretty simple: Define the problem, develop measurable solutions, and use metrics to track improvements. He says that while times have changed for most business functions, it seems that some HR and recruiting departments are stuck in a time warp. Consider that interviewing accuracy and quality of hire have not improved, he may be onto something. Companies continue to post boring jobs, hoping to find exceptional people where no one else has looked before. Presentation is still more important than performance. Techies still overvalue experience and technical skills. Managers still go with their gut. And everyone still gets seduced by first impressions. We still preclude people who have great ability, but without the so-called “proper” background or requisite years of experience to be considered. In our rush to hire at scale, we still ignore the needs of those being hired and how they make decisions. It’s surprising that some HR departments still rely on the dogma of hiring practices 100 years old, and still believes that a 62 percent interviewing accuracy rate (according to ResearchGate) is acceptable.
HR and recruiting have the opportunity to earn valuable process improvement should organizations begin to measure and manage the following:
1. Instead of experience-based job descriptions, define the position in terms of six to eight measurable performance objectives. For example, rather than “must have five to seven years of international accounting experience, a CPA, and an MBA,” go with “implement the SAP international consolidations module in six months.”
2. Measure the hiring manager’s ability to attract, develop, and retain top people. If talent is your top priority, this should be every hiring managers’ number one performance objective.
3. Never interview more than four people for any job. If you need to see more than four people, something’s wrong. Figure out what that is—the job description, upfront screening, or inaccurate assessment process— before moving forward.
4. Define quality of hire before the candidate is hired. Be sure to define success as B+ level performance for each of the performance objectives listed in the performance- based job description (see point 1).
Perhaps the reason HR and recruiting don’t have a “measure and improve everything” attitude is because their performance never depends on it. As Gates suggests, this might be a good place to start. By understanding your data and the ways in which it should be measured will translate into actionable outcomes yielding stronger business results.
Jennifer Beck is the CEO of consulting firm Higher Metrix.