How to Effectively Hire 200 People in 5 Days
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At TSOR, we believe that all businesses are fundamentally people businesses. People create new technologies, processes, goods, and services. For these reasons, we believe that having the right people on the team to do these things is essential; and therefore, hiring well is fundamental to success. While many of us would never create a budget or report earnings based on “feel”, this is oftentimes the methodology we are forced to employ when screening candidates.

I am reminded of Malcom Gladwell’s book, Talking to Strangers, in which he discusses how truly difficult it is for humans to perform predictive analysis of others, especially when the two parties have met face to face. In his book, one of the many examples he uses is that of judges at arraignments in New York City using their experience (feel) to decide if a defendant should be granted bail.

A Harvard economist, three computer scientists, and a bail expert wrote a program to test the merits of the New York City judges. Out of 554,689 defendants, the judges released 400,000 on bail. The program was written to also select 400,000 individuals from the same list of 554,689 defendants. After comparing the two lists, the individuals granted bail by the computer program were 25% less likely to commit a crime while on bail than those released by the judges. The software also identified 1% of defendants as extremely “high risk”. Surprisingly, the judges granted bail to 48.5% of those same “high risk” individuals, and well over half of them went on to commit crimes while on bail. While this is not an essay on the merits of the legal system, it is a glimpse into the challenge we face as a hiring manager forced to judge how a stranger may perform in the future[1].

At one point in my career, I needed to hire 200 people in a five-day period. The stakes were especially high because the employees were being hired into a union position, so although it was entry level, they would likely be with the company for decades shaping the future of the organization. Given the volume of candidates needed, we engaged two agencies to assist in the recruiting process. One agency worked as normal, and the other screened candidates using the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment. We found that the candidates who were hired using the Predictive Index and matched the job profile were more likely to be high performing employees two years after their hire date, were less likely to have left the company, and were more satisfied in their jobs than those who were not screened using the PI. Why was this?

Hiring is much like an arraignment hearing. As the hiring manager, you must make a difficult choice that is based on a few interactions with a stranger. The candidate is also in a position where, presumably, they want you to like them so they can continue providing for their financial needs. The candidate provides you with an account of their professional achievements (resume) and a list of friends (references) you can call. It is clear why the dynamic between hiring manager and candidate can produce a situation that ends suboptimal for both parties.

Through our experience, we have found that a best practice in hiring is a hybrid approach that supports the hiring manager’s gauge of candidate fit using objective behavioral assessments such as the PI. This underscores our philosophy that the best candidate for a position is not the one with the most similar experience, but it is the one whose core behavioral drives will be most suited to the position and who can draw upon a wide range of past experiences to be technically proficient in the role. When a position makes the underlying behavioral drives and past experiences of a candidate come alive, you as the hiring manager unleash the superpower of an individual in a way that radically boosts organizational performance and retention.

Here are some key questions for hiring managers:

  • Do you have a method in place to objectively identify the needs of the position you are filling?
  • How do you go about identifying and meeting the needs of a potential candidate?
  • How does your hiring decision for a single candidate play into your overall talent strategy?
  • Does your talent strategy align with your business strategy?

Let’s rise above and lead.  

[1] To learn more about the challenges faced by humans in correctly evaluating strangers, we highly recommend reading the book, Talking with Strangers. It highlights the multitude of factors that can prevent us from correctly evaluating a stranger, all of which are extremely applicable to candidate screening.

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