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Getting the Selection Technique Right

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

When you sit down to hire someone, how likely is it that your technique will help you determine their future performance in the role?

Before we answer this, let’s look at the ideal hiring process: 

  1. Your ads will attract around 10 qualified candidates. 

  2. 4 candidates are typically interviewed for a position. 

  3. 2 or 3 of those candidates have the Skills, Knowledge, and Experience to fit the role.

  4. After a Behaviour Focused Interview (BFI), the final candidate is chosen based on their Competencies.

  5. A job offer is made. There is an 80% chance the candidate will accept the offer.

Thinking about this from an organizational standpoint, in order to recruit 100 people, you have to make 125 job offers. This is because only 80% of the offers will actually be accepted. That means you could be looking at over a thousand resumes to find the right hires.

All of this is time-laden. How long does it take to collect resumes? To interview behaviourally, and do an assessment on the responses? How much time does it take to put together offers, and have 4 out of 5 accepted?

For this reason, many organizations skip certain parts of the hiring process, especially the BFI. However, in reality, if you get it wrong the first time, more work is required to get back on track. That means more time spent on recruiting again, but also more money lost in turnover costs. 

So, how does the BFI technique improve all of this?

Hiring techniques are used to find the right candidate, and having the right fit will determine how successful the candidate will be in the role. At Planet, we like to use a numbers-based approach, so let’s look at the different techniques and how they change the success rate of hiring:

You could always just assign your top candidates a number from 1 to 6, then roll a die and let that decide which one you hire. This technique is fast and 1 out of 6 times you will accidentally choose the right fit this way. But there is absolutely no correlation between the selection method and the candidate performing well.

You could purely rely on the candidate’s educational background. For example, does the candidate have a PHD? However, the data shows that this candidate turns out to be the best pick for the job only 10% of the time.

What about the resume? Sure, it will tell you that the candidate has been in similar roles before. Resumes miss out on context, though, which means you won’t know how successful the candidate was at the job. So, you’ll only get it right about 16% of the time.

References aren’t enough, either. Previous managers will often offer canned answers. If they weren’t entirely disappointed by the candidate, they may just tell you that the candidate was “Fine”. Some organizations will only tell you if the candidate worked there, for how long, and if they would hire them again. Some managers may not even tell you that. 

The likelihood of a candidate succeeding wavers when it comes to traditional one-on-one interviews. Why is that? Affinity biases can sway the judgement of hiring authorities. A candidate may be likable or someone the hiring authority would enjoy having a beer with after work, but they may not necessarily be the most qualified for the job. The longer a hiring authority has been in recruitment, the more biased they become. Based on their years of experience, they have made judgements about what types of candidates succeed, and what types don’t. These individuals do not consider information that goes against their experiences. 

Panel interviews are a good way to counter bias. Here, hiring authorities are forced to explain why they believe a certain candidate is the right fit for the job. As a result, they have to consciously filter out biases and highlight more substantive aspects of the candidate. Even then, candidates selected this way succeed only 35% of the time.

There are many methods used to test candidates before hiring them. Coding tests are one way to see if a candidate can actually code. While this works when hiring a heads-down programmer, it does not work if you are looking for a Team Lead. 

Suppose a candidate fulfills the Skills, Knowledge, and Experience criteria for the role of a Team Lead. This position requires Leadership and Ability to Influence Others. The best assessment for these Competencies is through a Behavior Focused Interview (BFI). When a candidate is selected using BFI, they are 70% likely to succeed in the job. And you can’t get higher than that. 

Let’s go back to the team of 100 hires from the beginning of this article. If you use BFI to select them, you are wasting less time and fewer resources this way because you are likely to get it right the first time. 

So, why does team performance matter? Most projects come with a financial incentive, such as a bonus, and a reputational risk. If the team hired does not perform well, not only is there a financial loss, but the company is also unlikely to get more projects from the client. Other clients may decline to work with the company as well. The hiring authority will lose their chances of getting promoted. And all of this will waste hundreds of thousands of dollars in project materials and hiring costs. 

As a hiring authority, it is up to you to hire efficiently, and with as little turnover as possible. A big part of this is understanding team composition. The next part of our series will detail the types of team members, and how to put together a team that is optimized for performance. 

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