More than 50% of companies consider talent acquisition their most important human capital priority – both now and over the next two to three years.1 Yet anecdotal and empirical research suggests that companies could be doing a much better job of screening job candidates. Indeed, more than 30% of hiring mistakes have been attributed to an overreliance on the hiring manager’s evaluation!2
It is my belief that companies simply have not gathered sufficient high quality information about the candidates they are hiring. And so what happens? Without the data to support their decision managers go with their gut in making the hire. And if the new hire is not a good one the problems ripple out: HR gets the blame when the new hire performs poorly, which may be followed by disengagement and, possibly, turnover.
Assuming that hiring managers have identified the key criteria required for success, companies must expand their assessment lens beyond traditional hiring tools such as the resume screen and interview whose sole use limits the predictive power of the selection process.
In order to better understand this situation and how we got here, let’s take a look at what most companies are using to select new hires – including if and how these tendencies have changed over time.
- More than 80% of companies have consistently used resume screens and interviews to evaluate job candidates
- Technology-dependent assessments such as video-based interviewing and reviewing candidate information online have become more prevalent
- Assessments such as personality, motivational, and cognitive ability tests have become more popular over time
- Overall companies are expanding beyond the traditional resume screen and interviews and using more assessments to evaluate candidates
It is these last two points that I think are especially exciting: companies are starting to understand that more assessments allow for more predictive screening. While the particular assessment mix depends on the role and the specific success criteria, all things being equal more assessments typically result in better hires.
To bring this to life, the following matrix, called a multi-trait, multi-method approach, illustrates how to ensure coverage of key criteria using specific assessments.
The take-home message from this matrix includes the following:
- First, this approach allows companies to uniquely measure as many criteria as possible using multiple assessments.
- Second, each “set” of tools (e.g., resume screen and phone screen) may act as a selection hurdle in a company’s candidate funnel: at each stage the number of viable candidates is being reduced so that by the time they reach the hiring manager there is high confidence in the quality of the candidates.
A final consideration before signing off: Ample coverage of a job’s success profile is absolutely fundamental to the selection process. The trends explored in the bar graph above suggest that companies are starting to understand this truism, but they still have a long way to go in developing broader and more rigorous hiring processes while balancing cost, efficiency and practicality. Based on my experience this hesitancy stems from two issues. First, companies may believe that testing increases their exposure to employment litigation. Second, they may not know how to connect testing to their bottom line.
A validation study is the first step to solving both concerns because it allows researchers to collect evidence demonstrating a test’s job relatedness (see my April blog post for more information about test validation) – a key component of legal defensibility. If done properly, the study itself will demonstrate that higher test performance results in positive (bottom line) outcomes such as lower turnover, higher safety, increased productivity, etc.
In next month’s blog, I will discuss key implementation challenges like systems, training and documentation. As always, I encourage you to leave your comments and questions in the text box below and to participate in a 3-minute anonymous survey – both of which will help drive discussion and inform subsequent blog posts.
To discuss your specific talent selection issues and challenges, please contact me at 203-817-7522.
 State of Human Capital 2012
 Selection Forecast 2012
 Selection Forecast 1999, 2005, 2012