A tale of two types of hiring
Recently, I was speaking with a business associate. They shared a reflection about their working for a small publishing house and the identification of a hiring problem. The head of HR was doing everything right: she ran a carefully-considered hiring operation that included a structured skills assessment and interview process for roles ranging from editors and marketers to salespeople and more. Candidates that came through this hiring funnel usually ended up being long-term hires and solid performers.
The problem was that there was a parallel hiring process taking place. One of the company’s founders had an unfortunate habit of making unilateral hiring decisions, offering jobs to people she’d met briefly and “had a good feeling about”. She was completely within her rights – it was her company, after all – but over time, a pattern began to emerge. These gut-feel hires, made with no due diligence or proper processes, would inevitably be a disaster. They often lacked the right skills, didn’t fit in with the culture, or would leave within a few weeks of commencement.
Eventually, the head of HR persuaded the founder to leave the hiring to her. As the gut-feel hires disappeared, everything began to improve – performance, retention, team culture – thanks to data-based hiring.
What is gut feel?
A “gut-feel” decision is one that is based on emotion, intuition, or a sixth sense. While neuroscientists point out that gut feel is a form of subconscious information processing and stems from experience, it is undeniably the opposite of analytical thinking.
This is a problem because gut feel is almost always influenced by bias. There are several types of unconscious biases at play when we hire people, including:
- Gender bias: Subconsciously preferring one gender over another.
- Affinity bias: Preferring a candidate because you have something in common.
- Beauty bias: Are humans really that shallow? Unfortunately, yes. This bias involves hiring someone for the way they look, such as having a “friendly face”.
- Confirmation bias: Looking for facts that confirm our existing opinions and dismissing those that don’t.
- Halo effect: Letting one great aspect of a person influence how you feel about them. The opposite of this is the “Horns effect”.
The upshot of gut-feel hiring is poor hiring choices that are expensive to replace and can damage the organisation’s reputation. According to CareerBuilder, companies lose an average of US$14,900 for every poor hire, not including the salary paid to unproductive employees.
Data-based hiring leads to better outcomes
Recruitment is rooted in data. By tracking and analysing data with the help of a platform such as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or a dedicated assessment tool such as AbilityMap, talent acquisition professionals can track key metrics such as source of hire, turnover, quality of hire, cost to hire, time to hire, and more.
With AbilityMap, companies can use a structured assessment to:
- Define specific needs for a role,
- Compare candidates against these needs and against each other in an unbiased manner, and
- Act on this information with the confidence provided by the data.
Having a lake of candidate data at your fingertips can reveal hidden gems of information that will lead to a candidate standing out from the pack. For example, a skills assessment may reveal not only that they can do the job they are applying for, but they possess high leadership potential as well.
Data collection in hiring also allows for continuous improvement; something that can’t be achieved with “blind” decision-making and gut-feel hiring.
Get in touch with AbilityMap to learn how our software provides the data you need to make high-quality data-based hiring decisions that will take your organisation to the next level.