Quality of Hire Talent Strategy

Use Insight, Not Guesswork, to Hire the Top-Third – Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I suggested that in order to increase interviewing accuracy beyond the 65% standard of behavioral interviewing, you needed to first ask this question when opening up a new job requisition

Published: Feb 28, 2020

In part 1 of this series, I suggested that in order to increase interviewing accuracy beyond the 65% standard of behavioral interviewing, you needed to first ask this question when opening up a new job requisition:

What does the person need to do in order to be considered successful?

The answer to this question is typically 4-5 KPOs (key performance objectives) defining the task, the action required and some measure of success. Some examples will help clarify this concept:

  • Make quota within six months after successfully completing the sales training program.
  • Complete the user interface design using Python to capture credit card information by July.
  • Upgrade the accounting team to ensure the new international reporting system is fully operational by year-end.

Clarifying job needs using these types of performance-based job descriptions allows for a direct assessment of competency, fit and interest rather than using the more traditional list of skills, academic requirements, personality traits and experiences. Aside from improving assessment accuracy, few top-tier candidates are desperate enough to get excited by what,  on the surface, appears to be nothing more than an ill-defined lateral transfer.

The idea is that if a person can do the work as defined by the KPOs, she/he will have all of the skills and experiences required to be successful. More important, the mix of these skills and experiences will rarely be the same as what’s listed on the job description. The reason: it’s what people DO with what they HAVE that makes them successful, not what they HAVE in absolute terms. More important, the strongest people achieve more with less and with a different mix. Shifting to a performance qualified assessment approach is how to remove the lid on quality of hire by expanding the talent pool to more diverse and high potential talent.

By asking the following question you’ll be able to determine if the person can do the work:

One of the major performance objectives for this job is (describe the KPO in some detail). What have you accomplished that’s most comparable?

I refer to this as the “Most Significant Accomplishment” question (MSA). It takes about 12-15 minutes of peeling the onion to fully understand the accomplishment by asking all of the who, when, why, where and how questions. Before making anyone an offer, ask this same MSA question for all of the other KPOs to ensure the person competent and motivated to handle all critical job needs. Then complete the quality of hire scorecard shown in the image to determine if the person should be considered a top-third finalist.

As part of assessing cultural fit, it’s important that the pace and intensity of the person’s accomplishments reasonably map to your needs. This along with the types of teams the person worked on and how the person made decisions and solved problems are collectively good proxies for cultural fit.

Job Seekers Need to Ensure They’re Assessed Properly, Too

Candidates can ask this forced-choice MSA question whenever they believe they’re not being assessed this way:

Can you please describe some of the performance objectives for the job? By providing a few examples of work I’ve done that are most comparable, you’ll be able to quickly determine if I’m qualified for the position.

If the interviewer is asking some trick question or asks about something that seems off-base, candidates can push back by asking this question for clarification:

Can you explain how _______________ is used on the job? Knowing this will enable me to describe a project I’ve handled that’s most comparable.

Indirect Interviewing Techniques Rely Too Much on Statistics Rather than Evidence

To get around the lack of understanding of real job needs, interviewers typically substitute indirect methods to assess ability, fit and potential. These include assessment tests, behavioral interviews, generic competency models, trick questions and gut feelings. Under these conditions success and satisfaction is problematic with the best and most hungry interviewees getting the job, rather than the best performers and those with the most potential.

This problem is minimized by first defining success as a series of performance objectives (the KPOs) and assessing the person’s most comparable major related accomplishments. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take any extra time to do this, especially when fewer candidates are needed to be interviewed to hire a great person who’s truly competent and motivated to do the real work required. More significant, people hired this way require less direction and achieve superior performance once on-the-job. That’s a triple win: one for the candidate hired, the hiring manager who hired the person and the recruiter who decided to focus more on improving quality of hire rather than being faster.

Collectively this is how gathering the right evidence can be used to shift the hiring decision from one comparable to Las Vegas odds to something similar to making any major business decision.