Written by: Natasha Augustine
Hiring is a funny thing. We interview tons of people – we look at resumes, applications, where someone went to school or sometimes just who they know. We call them in, ask 10 questions and then make a long-term financial decision based on how we personally “feel” about someone. Our own biases.
Now, to have personal biases is to be human. We all have our own subjective lens of the world. We are influenced and shaped by our experiences, beliefs, values, education, family, friends, peers and others.
But, personal biases can also be costly if you fail to attract and retain top talent and select a candidate who is a good fit. Plus, there may be legal implications if a determination is made that a hiring authority unfairly discriminated against a job applicant.
I’ve always been amazed at how we use statistical data in every aspect of our businesses – predicting trends in our industry, supplier costs, inventory management, sales forecasting, the extension of credit – the list goes on and on.
Our blind spot: our human resources. You know the ones – they drive our trucks, fold our linens, dispatch our drivers and manage our teams. How can we say that our people are not a business statistic?
Business statistics is the science of good decision making in the face of uncertainty.
There is nothing more uncertain than relying on your own biases to make good hiring decisions. So how do we fix it, you ask?
Let’s start by using a few…umm, I don’t know…statistics, maybe?
- The average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the first year’s compensation. (U.S. DOL)
- 43% of managers list “warm body syndrome” as the main reason bad hires are made. (NBR)
- It costs $7,000 to replace a salaried employee, $10,000 to replace a mid-level employee, and $40,000 to replace a senior executive. (HR.com)
- As much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. (HBR)
So, how can you use statistics to make better hiring decisions?
Assessments are effective tools for understanding the people who make up your workforce. Behavior, personality, cognitive, skills, integrity, job knowledge and a variety of other assessments are used to uncover different aspects of a person’s makeup.
While each kind of assessment has useful applications depending on your objective, personality-based behavioral assessments are particularly revealing, powerful and relevant to solving hiring mistakes.
Having a solid grasp — built on actual data, not observation — of how each candidate can be expected to behave in a given role or work situation and how to interface with and motivate them will allow you to anticipate, manage and resolve people-related issues long before problems crop up.
94% of best-in-class organizations leverage behavior assessments.
Questions to consider when choosing what assessment to use:
- What is the assessment designed to measure and accomplish, and how will that benefit the organization?
- Does the assessment come with an accompanying job analysis tool that allows for the thorough identification of a job’s requirements?
- Is the assessment free of bias with respect to the respondent’s age, gender or ethnic group?
- Is the assessment reliable? That is, are people’s scores on it consistent and repeatable over time?
- Is the assessment valid? In other words, does it effectively predict important workplace behaviors that drive metrics such as sales, customer satisfaction and turnover?
- Is documentation supporting questions C, D and E available in the form of a technical manual or equivalent document?
- Is research ongoing?
Personality-based or behavioral assessments help reduce the subjectivity involved when employers only use interview techniques. An accurate personality-based assessment can provide objective insights into key personality traits intrinsically related to workplace performance.
The insights help key talent functions avoid mistakes related to bias, politics, “gut decisions,” and chance. These types of errors can produce a litany of organizational issues that can devastate business results.
Behavioral patterns are unique. And individual’s native drives, needs and behaviors are like their superpowers. They can help an individual excel in his or her career and contribute to the success of the organization or be a total mismatch and just make a mess of things. Knowing how those native drives fit into a particular role is imperative. Think about it. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how good you are, if you knew there were certain elements of a particular job that would drive you crazy, or prevent you from performing, would you want that job?
Insights about personality characteristics of job candidates can help you understand potential job-fit, empowering you to prioritize candidates based on the best match. When used correctly, behavioral assessments lead to better hires and higher levels of performance, job satisfaction, and long-term retention.
So your nephew who is “just a good kid” might be just that—a good kid. That doesn’t mean he’s the best fit for your open position.
Natasha Augustine is an executive coach and the Director of Client Engagement for R. H. Sweeney Associates. She specializes in The Predictive Index behavioral assessment (www.thepredictiveindex.com) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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