Are you hiring the right talent?

Companies and bosses have been looking for the right talent all the time. War for talent is always intense, especially for services sector; and is immaterial of the state of the economy. Interestingly, there has been loads of research, but there isn’t one silver bullet that solves the problem of finding the right fit. Various frameworks and assessment methods have been recommended but there is nothing yet that is reliable and easy to administer.

Why it is so tough? During the last two decades of my work in the recruiting industry, I have witnessed several situations where the assessment results and actual performance of a candidate have not been in congruence. Some times, the assessors are not very clear what is important for the role; at times, they are not sure why they look for specific attributes; and many a times, the assessment methodology and scoring aren’t  uniform.

The root cause of the problem is that every manager has a self-image of being a talent-connoisseur. Hence, it is tough to calibrate various assessors. They use their own scales and often use their own criteria to assess the suitability of the applicant.

There is another reason behind this mess – the leaders in the organization do not care much to determine what is really essential and what is desirable. The context of each organization is different from its competitors and the business environment keeps evolving. Hence, the behaviours that could make someone highly successful in a role in an organization at a point in time might not work well in the same role in a peer level organization. Hence, each organization has to define what are the most important requirements they seek in a candidate for each of their roles. This calls for commitment and efforts from its leaders to define the requirements sharply.

Given this backdrop, what does one do to select the right person? If we think of the fields of sports, music, dance or any other form of art, a form of skill such as carpentry, driving, plumbing etc, it is relatively easier to select the right person compared to a white-collar job such as sales, customer service, design, engineering, finance etc. And it gets harder when we hire managerial talent with many soft skills. It becomes easier to select when we hold a test or a competition and the test represents a typical scenario or task to be performed by the person in the role. IT industry has started using various competitions to select the right talent. Why cannot the others try this? The selection for a sales role can involve a selling situation and the candidates can be asked to perform the tasks that they will be required to perform. Similarly, situations can be simulated for any role to test the best-fitting candidate. These simulations are age-old methods which have been tried and tested for recruiting for many roles. While critics argue why simulations are not comprehensive, they are far better and reliable than the gut-feel assessments, non-uniform scales and inconsistent practices which are in use today.

Secondly, as science has been developing, in the last decade, we have seen usage of analytics frameworks to forecast patterns in many walks of life. Recruiting is one such walk of life that can use analytics to deep dive into the heaps of digital repository of candidates and pick out the possible best-matches. Quite a few organizations are working in this area already and we will see sustainable practices evolve soon.

Hiring Right sounds easy, but hard to implement unless the organization has the intent and the bandwidth to define what it needs and use scientific approaches such as simulations and analytics to choose the best!

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