HRHeadStart #6: The Talent Acquisition Edition
A wise person remarked something to the effect of, "We spent 10% of our time selecting good candidates and end up spending 90% of our time on managing those selection mistakes." Estimates of the cost of a bad hire range between 30-100% of the total cost of the employee, with some sources citing even higher costs for critical talent and leadership roles. Hiring is a crucial process as it injects talent into the organization and we need to ensure the process works well. Hiring effectiveness could be measured by a low False Positive and False Negative rate. A False Positive is when we hire someone who doesn't work out (i.e. we wrongly believed they were awesome). A False Negative is when we reject someone who would have been awesome, but we failed to spot the talent. To improve hiring effectiveness, there are multiple interventions to consider and I would like to focus on two - 1) using a systematic process to reduce bias and "noise" in the candidate evaluation process and 2) using high-validity tools for candidate evaluation
Reducing Bias and Noise: According to Daniel Kahneman (a Nobel laureate), bias is about a group of humans making judgements that consistently go in a particular direction. Noise is when judgements go all over the place in different directions i.e. people seeing the same facts, but reaching wildly inconsistent and unreliable conclusions. He highlights the hiring process at Google (disclosure: my employer) as a good case study in minimizing bias and noise.
"The authors point to Google as a good case study for adopting practices to minimize noise in hiring decisions. At Google, several people interview each job candidate separately. They are given guidelines for judging candidates on specific criteria, like cognitive ability and leadership qualities. The candidates are graded on a predetermined scale for each criterion. The process is more about gathering data than getting a vague, overall impression of someone based on a short conversation. Once all the data have been collected, it's only then that a hiring committee meets and makes a decision about whom to bring on board."
Hear from Daniel Kahneman in this short video.
Using High-Validity Tools: Today, we have an abundance of assessment tools, AI tools, game-based simulations etc. which can tighten up the hiring process. A large-scale meta analysis spanning 85 years tells us that tools like general mental ability tests, structured interviews and robust psychometric tools have the best predictive validity for job performance. Something to also think about is how should we manage the trade-off between speed and effectiveness of the hiring process.
It has been almost 2 years of living in a pandemic and we have all faced and dealt with "Zoom fatigue". Stanford Professor Jeremy Bailenson has identified 4 reasons for this - excessive close-up eye contact, seeing yourself continuously on the screen, reduced body movements and high cognitive load because of difficulties in understanding non-verbal communications and gestures. Here's a quick summary of the research and proposed solutions for managing around this problem.
A Productive Workout
A workout is a great way to create mindspace for processing and learning new ideas. And it primes you for creative thinking. For your next walk, run or workout session, take along Adam Grant from Wharton to learn about reimagining the job interview. How do we make better hiring decisions? Should we delegate hiring decisions to algorithms? Understand the questions that matter and emerging answers in this podcast.
Some of the smartest managers make nuanced trade-offs between hiring the best person versus hiring someone who is continuously improving. Perseverance > Brilliance.