Engineering a Better Approach to Hiring

On November 13, 2018, in HRExaminer, by Bob Corlett



What’s the new process, tool, or method that will pay the largest dividend in engineering a better approach to hiring?

Most of my clients create most of their impact—and spend most of their money—in two areas: labor and vendors. Now follow the money to see clearly what you are doing.

Spending on vendors is usually quite strategic, involving a painstaking review of needs and options, an RFP process, careful analysis of the return on investment, a clear decision, and follow-up monitoring for the duration of the expenditure.

But when it comes to labor costs, well . . . that’s handled. . .differently.

In hiring, cost control comes at a very senior level (in the form of the salary budget), but the hiring is often delegated to the busy folks at the department level. In between, I rarely see strong decision-support mechanisms, a methodical review of alternatives, close evaluation of the ROI, or the oversight that is usual for vendor evaluations. As a result, hiring managers in each department are often ill-equipped to do this job well, and they resort to hiring approaches that feel familiar, but are often ill-advised.

If you were starting from scratch to engineer an approach to hiring with the goal of making consistently terrific hires for every role, at every level of your organization, you would organize the work differently. You would assemble a hiring team (including HR and hiring managers) with a different set of skills and a more robust set of tools. Likely, your team would:

Bob Corlett | Founding Member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

  • Define what business outcome or social impact you are setting out to achieve, analyze obstacles you might encounter, and assess the skills your organization currently lacks to reach your goals. (Presumably these are the competencies you require in your new hire.)
  • Map the various career paths potential candidates might take on their journey toward gaining the competencies you desire, and understand how your opportunity compares to their other career options. Remember, to get what you want in hiring, you must also help the candidate get what they want. (Presumably this job market intelligence would factor into your recruiting and compensation strategy.)
  • Understand the most cost-effective approaches to recruiting top performers and what level of effort will be required to attract them. (Presumably your recruiting efforts would be adjusted to the urgency and difficulty of the recruiting, and calibrated according to the expected ROI from the new hire.)
  • Accurately assess the skills of your candidates, as well as their fit within your culture. (Presumably your hiring managers would be well-versed in evidence-based approaches to interviewing.)
  • Develop a data-driven decision support process that would encourage the manager to consider candidates from a variety of backgrounds, expanding the manager’s perspective and options. (Presumably your organization would rely on a solid decision-support process for hiring at every level.)  
  • You would consistently gather information post-hire to assess your hiring effectiveness, and use that data to improve future hiring, and further develop the skills of everyone involved. (Presumably these hiring analytics would be integral to your performance management process.)

If you were serious about ensuring the best return from one of your largest investments (your salary budget), you would assemble a hiring team with business acumen, market knowledge, process expertise, and a keen desire for continuous improvement. Then you would empower team members to evaluate their level of effort to correspond to each hiring situation. Is that how the process currently works at your organization? Do the people involved in your hiring teams have those skills? If not, why not?

I suspect your marketing efforts have recently undergone a profound transition to become more data-driven and evidence-based. I’m sure this wasn’t an easy transition, as it required people with different skills and different tools. But when the competitive advantages were impossible to ignore, you changed your ways.

In many organizations, hiring is the last major process that has not adopted an evidence-based approach. But it will. Just as the Google pay-per-click business model ushered in a major shift in marketing, that company is also leading the way using data to refine HR practices with its re:Work website, an interactive platform designed to share best practices grounded in people analytics.

And just as you have seen with your own organization’s marketing transition, organizations that are willing to re-engineer their processes to become more data-driven will gain an enormous advantage over those who don’t, and the competitive benefits will soon be impossible to ignore.

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