Passed on a rock star hire?

Picture this. You’ve whittled your candidate shortlist for a key role to two contenders: Ranjit and Sally. They have near-identical academic histories, similar levels of experience, and both sailed through the interview process with flying colours … but you can only choose one. You decide to go with your instinct, thank Sally for her time, and offer the role to Ranjit.

You work in a niche industry, so you’re not surprised to hear a few weeks later that Sally was snapped up by your organisation’s biggest competitor. “Good for her”, you think. But that’s not the last time you hear about Sally.

Sally turns out to be a star performer, and within 24 months she has completely transformed your competitor’s operation and carved out a business advantage that will be difficult to close. Ranjit, meanwhile, has turned out to be a solid hire, but he lacks that all important X-factor.

You want to kick yourself. Why did you let Sally go?

Let’s examine how this situation could have been avoided with the help of Ability Map.

Define – knowing what you need

Great hires are made by finding candidates with high capability levels in the skills that matter:

1) for the specific role, and

2) within the unique context of your organisation.

In other words, if you intend to hire a rock star, you first need to understand what drives top performance. This data can be gathered by having the top 10-20% performers for that role undertake a skills assessment to map out the capability mix that leads to success. These are your current rock stars.

Identify – Measuring what matters

Hiring managers make the mistake of passing on top performers for several reasons including relying on gut feel, allowing bias to influence their decisions, or using unreliable indicators of future performance such as the job interview.

Imagine, for example, that Sally stumbles nervously through her job interview. Basing a decision solely on this would have led to her being turned away, but a skills assessment would flag to the hiring manager that Sally has the potential to be a rock star hire.

On the flip side, imagine a candidate who aced the interview progress with confidence and charm. Does this mean they’ll be great at their job? No. The only thing it demonstrates is that they’re confident in an interview situation. Again, a skills assessment is the one reliable way to truly measure a candidate’s performance potential and un-observable capability gaps.

Compare – find your match

Armed with this data insight, the next step is to assess all candidates against this profile to find a match. In the example above, had Sally and Ranjit completed a skills assessment, it would have shown who was the closest match to the profile needed, identified each of their unique inherent strengths (and weaknesses) and provided enough points of reference to make a decision based on data rather than gut feel.

Every hiring manager’s nightmare

To borrow a concept from statistics, there are two types of errors to avoid when hiring:

  • Type I: A false positive or hiring a poor performer.
  • Type II: A false negative or passing on a top performer.

Hiring a poor performer has direct and measurable impacts: targets are missed, clients are unhappy, your team culture is impacted, and once you’ve let them go, you face the eye-watering costs of re-hiring.

The impacts of passing on a rock star hire are harder to measure. All you can do is estimate the opportunity costs if you’d been better equipped to make the right hiring decision. How much closer would you be to your business targets if you’d hired the right person? How much happier would the team be? How big an advantage would you have over your competitors?

Until recently, there was little you could do in a Type II situation apart from shrugging it off and hoping to make a better guess next time. But by using next-generation HR technology and skills assessment, you can ensure you never pass on a top performer again.

Hiring shouldn’t be a gamble

Let’s face it; every hiring manager, talent acquisition professional and recruiter will make mistakes in their careers, including passing on top candidates. But it shouldn’t be like flipping a coin and losing the toss. With the right data-backed evidence, talent acquisition professionals are finally in a position to identify rock star candidates and hire with confidence.

Want to hire a rock star? Start by finding out exactly what you need to drive top performance in a role. Contact us to start the conversation today.

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