Many of us have a favorite sports team that we follow. When our team does well, most of the recognition goes to the players. Sometimes, the recognition even goes to us if we are wearing that lucky shirt that magically wills our team to win even though we’re watching from 700 miles away. When our team does poorly, we often criticize the management of the team. We question the acquisitions of players we don’t like and wonder what the front office is thinking when they draft one player over another. Why is selecting a winning team so difficult? If we were in charge things would be different. Maybe not. It really depends on your approach.
In the best-selling book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, author Michael Lewis discusses how the talent scouts for the Oakland Athletics selected players for the team. The process included looking at a players’ body size and getting a “gut feeling” for their superstar potential. Hiring managers in many organizations will often mirror this action. For example, an unstructured interview in the hiring process can lead to a decision where a candidate is selected because of a hiring manager’s gut feeling. Sometimes gut feelings are right, but sometimes they are terribly wrong. When they are wrong, it can cost an organization more than just money.
Billy Bean, the Athletics’ team manager, decided that the “gut feeling” approach was not the right approach for his team. He decided that statistics would better predict future performance. He looked into the specific college statistics that predicted professional performance. He and his assistant manager, Paul DePodesta, discovered that walks percentage (getting to first base due to bad throws) would be a better predictor of runs scored than a high batting percentage.
This statistics-based decision, along with many others, led them to success and also led to other teams wanting to copy their strategy. This introduced sabermetrics (objective baseball knowledge) into the mainstream of professional baseball selection. What Billy Bean later found out is that sabermetrics, while very useful, is not a silver bullet for selecting the best players for your team. It does, however, add another vital piece to the performance prediction puzzle.
The truth is that neither gut feelings nor statistics will be the best predictor alone. Rather, the best approach is to collect as many prediction puzzle pieces as possible to get a complete view of the future performance picture.
The following 4 pieces will help complete the picture:
1) Build a Really Cool Website
The first thing your potential candidate will do is check your website. If it doesn’t look cool (i.e., looks outdated or disorganized), say goodbye to that top talent. Ever heard of love at first site? Yes, love at first (web)site is real. An impressive website should be a top priority as it is the virtual face of the company.
Find out what candidates think of your website application process. Always look to improve the process. Also, make sure to brag about your company. Don’t just brag about your product, but also about your company’s culture, awards, or anything that would be attractive to potential candidates.
2) Recruit Smart
The first step is to clearly identify what you’re looking for in a given open position. Clearly identify the minimum and preferred knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required for the position. Gather this information from incumbents in the position, supervisors of the position, a job analysis, benchmarking, and input from key stakeholders.
Implement an employee referrals programs to help with recruiting. The best employees come from employee referrals. A 2015 study from iCIMS showed that candidates hired from employee referrals fit in better with company culture, turnover less, have higher job satisfaction, and are a better overall fit. Also, target your recruiting efforts in the right area. If you’re hiring for entry level jobs, devote more resources to college events.
3) Use Online Assessments
Depending on the job, there are different types of online assessments that will provide the most utility. As always, before implementing a hiring assessment into your selection process, make sure the test is valid, reliable, and is legally sound.
Employment Screening – This is an automated process of screening out unqualified candidates by using basic questions designed to find out if the candidate has even the basic qualifications for the job. For example, if it’s required that the candidate be over 18 years old to work at the company, a question used here would be, “Are you over the age of 18?”
Short and Sweet Assessments – If your company has high volume and would like to screen out the riskiest candidates early in the selection process, this type of assessment might make the most sense. The benefits are that you are weeding out poor candidates early in the process. These brief assessments can predict important organizational outcomes and bring a great deal of value early in the selection process.
In-Depth Assessments – This type of assessment will be longer in length for candidates to complete compared to abbreviated assessments, but the benefits are that you capture a more in-depth view of the candidate’s skills and likelihood to perform well on the job. These assessments can be competency based and customized to a specific job. At Select International, a study reported a 300% improvement in clients’ hiring decisions using these in-depth assessments.
4) Interview with Structure
You can interview as a group or individually, but make sure that all of the interviews are standardized and that scoring is consistent. Interviews should be:
If the hiring managers and HR representatives are not trained on structured interviews, there are great ways to train them. If no one is qualified to conduct this training, you can reach out to lots of great companies to do it for you.
The 4 keys listed above are a great start for any selection process. Keep in mind, it is impossible to predict the future human behavior with 100% accuracy. However, don’t rely on your gut feeling or solely on what the numbers say. Get the most complete picture possible of the candidate and put the odds in your favor. And remember, when your sports team doesn’t perform well, at least you know you could do better.
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