11 Ways to Improve Quality of Hire

April 16, 2015

Improving and measuring quality of hire is a challenge that companies have been struggling with for years. That’s because, in my opinion it’s simply not possible using current hiring practices.

The problem relates to too much focus on generic skills and competencies, the use of ill-defined jobs for hiring purposes and indirect interviewing and assessment techniques (i.e. anything needing some type of statistical means for validation).

Accurately measuring pre- and post quality of hire requires a clear understanding of actual job needs; sourcing and recruiting programs designed to attract the best, not weed out the weak; and direct measures of past performance. The 11 steps outlined below meet this criteria and you can easily test them out on your next hiring assignment.

Using a Performance-based Hiring Process to improve quality of hire

1. Define exceptional performance rather than an exceptional person.

Every job can be defined as a series of 6-8 performance objectives. For example, it’s better to say, “Launch the new product line within 6 months targeting 20% market share within 2 years,” rather than, “Must have 5-8 years of product marketing experience in our industry plus an MBA from a prestigious university.” The quality of a person’s comparable results will then be the pre-hire measure for quality of hire.

2. Don’t post internal job descriptions.

There is no law requiring a company to post skills-laden job descriptions. When the top labor lawyer in the U.S. says using Performance-based Hiring as the foundation increases diversity and high potential hires you might want to give it a try. Starting with stronger candidates is one way to hire stronger people.

3. Turn job descriptions into stories to attract stronger people.

Use Marketing 101 techniques to write compelling career stories. As part of these, describe the work that needs to be done and the impact the person can make. You’ll also send these to passive candidates to get them excited.

4. Embed the skills into your career stories.

Convert your most critical skills into outcomes as part of your online job descriptions. For example, “Use your CPA and experience in international consolidations to help manage our fast-growing business,” will excite a person. “Must-have” requirements will turn the best off.

5. Develop a catchy title.

“Flight Nurse – Helping Save Lives Everyday” will generate a lot more interest than “Medivac RN – Experienced.” The former generated 14 viable candidates in one week vs. one marginal candidate in three months.

6. Create a “pitch tweet.”

Captivate your ideal candidate’s intrinsic motivator with something like, “Join new Ruby scrum team generating advanced VR gaming platform: LINK #vrgames.” Social media is a great sourcing channel when used properly.

7. Screen on Achiever terms.

To find the top 25% for any job, add recognition terms like award, honor, society, leader, coach, fellowship, promoted, patent, white paper, speaker and/or assigned to your Boolean strings. Achievers include these terms in their profiles and resumes. Those with few accolades use passive or generic terms.

8. Engage in conversations.

Go slow. While the above techniques will get stronger performers into the top of your recruiting funnel, you need to use a career-oriented recruiting approach to get them excited about your opening.

9. Modify the job to fit the person.

The likelihood a top person who’s not looking will find your vague job description an exact career fit is remote. Think about adjusting the scope of the position somewhat as a means to craft it as a career move.

10. Interview on past performance in comparison to actual needs.

The Performance-based Interview is all about having the candidate describe accomplishments comparable to those listed in the performance-based job description. Neat fact: If the person has comparable accomplishments and is motivated to do the work required, he/she has exactly the skills and experiences required.

11. Assess quality of hire pre- and post.

Using the Talent Scorecard found in the Appendix to The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired , you’ll be able to measure pre-hire candidate quality of hire based on the person’s past accomplishments. You can use the same scorecard to measure the person’s actual on-the-job performance post-hire. By following the Performance-based Hiring process, the two measures will be close to exact.

According to Harvard professors Ross and Ogas, in order to maximize personal, company and societal performance, there is a need to customize your offerings to meet the needs of the individual being served. This is true for education, industrial design, medicine, sports coaching and hiring. In their soon-to-be published book, The End of Average , they outline why the Performance-based Hiring process described above is the only hiring process they found that could increase quality of hire for any job, improve on-the-job performance and increase employee satisfaction. It all starts by emphasizing the impact the people hired can make rather than the cost of hiring them.

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