According to Robert Half (March 2015), 70% of HR Directors admit that they’ve hired someone who did not meet expectations. Whilst job interviews have a valuable role to play in driving hiring decisions, they should not be the only tool in the recruitment armoury.

Job interviews; few people (on either side of the desk) relish the prospect.  Each party has approximately 30-60 minutes to sell themselves to one another, carefully avoiding any ‘foot in mouth’ moments, embellishing the highlights, and glossing over any low points.  Everyone has their game face on, giving away just enough of the right things, and not too many of the wrong things.

Added to that, there’s always an ‘interesting’ range of candidates for any job vacancy.  Some are very obvious square pegs trying valiantly to convince you of their capacity for roundness, given the opportunity to demonstrate it. Ruling these out is the easy part. But you don’t have to be in the recruitment business for very long to realise that, quite understandably, hiring managers really struggle to commit to a decision on even the best candidates.   For some people, interviewing Kate Middleton for a Kate Middleton lookalike job would make for a nail biting decision.  There’s always the niggling feeling that one needs to have a benchmark, a point of comparison, and to feel like you have made the right choice out of a number of potential other right choices.

So, why is it that experienced managers, capable of making on the spot, ball breaking, business critical decisions in other aspects of their job role, struggle so deeply with the final decision to make an offer of employment?  Surely when it’s right, it’s right.  Or is it?

The answer is in the statistics.  According to Robert Half (March 2015), 70% of HR Directors admit that they’ve hired someone who did not meet expectations.  Leadership IQ state that, across a range of industries and job roles, up to 48% of new hires fail within 18 months, a problem that is estimated to cost UK business over £4 billion per year.  That cost is arrived at from a variety of components, such as lost revenue, lost productivity, wasted investment (e.g. training and induction), wasted time (interview time, time spent ‘waiting’ in between offer and induction), hiring and re-hiring costs, and loss of reputation / client confidence.

Any investment that involves diminishing the coffers by several thousand pounds is worth due consideration.  So, fair play to all those hesitant hiring managers. Because the expense of the recruitment process itself is dwarfed by the cost of getting it wrong, and that’s before you factor in the impact on colleagues who have to ‘carry’ the dead wood you’ve spent a fortune bringing on board.

That’s why, as indispensible as interviews are, they just don’t paint a predictive enough picture of ‘best fit’ in their own right. You’d never buy the first car you looked at, purely based on the beguiling patter of the salesperson, and without test driving it, carrying out vehicle checks, or even engaging some form of expert opinion on its roadworthiness.  By the same token, even the most accomplished and experienced interviewer recognises the benefit and value of making shortlisted candidates jump through one or two additional hoops before extending an offer.  It all contributes to the validity of the process, and that in itself is a confidence builder for hiring managers and HR professionals alike.

What exactly do we mean by validity.  We’ll use the analogy of a driving test to explore examples of the three definitions. Face validity is all about testing relevant skills (such as knowledge of the Highway Code, as opposed to knowledge of Formula 1 trivia).  Content validity tests a wide enough breadth of the capabilities required for the role (such as the use of both the written test and the practical test for learner drivers). And predictive validity indicates the correlation between success in the test and subsequent success in the role (ability to drive competently and safely after passing the test).

Back in the world of recruitment, there are a number of ways in which you can increase the validity of your process.  First, let’s take the interview itself.  It is widely recognised by professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) that the more structured an interview, the greater its validity.  Hence the value of a carefully planned, competency based interview process which is adopted consistently with all candidates and clearly reflects the key requirements of the role. Ideally no interview decision will be made unilaterally; panel interviews and / or multiple stage interviews, involving several key stakeholders in the role, all help to ratify the decision made on each candidate.

Beyond the interview, there’s referencing, work samples and practical tests.  All of these add value in helping to predict both fit and capability, two equally important concepts which should influence any hiring decision.  Ideally though, a fully stocked recruitment toolkit contains some form of ability and personality testing.  Designed to assess and predict both capability and fit for the role, these can offer valuable supplementary insight into the suitability of candidates for a given role.

Personality and ability tests such as those provided by great{with}talent ( offer so much more than just a recruitment tool. The insight gained from the resulting reports and detailed feedback can also provide the basis for valuable development planning from day one of employment.  Their exceptionally high face, content and predictive validity make them an invaluable tool for assessing not only candidate capability, but also preferred work styles, learning styles, engagement drivers, and personality traits, thereby offering a far more informative and sophisticated means of constructing teams that are likely to work effectively together on all levels over both the short and the long term.

So, if making hiring decisions has thus far always been fraught with dilemma, maybe it is time to add a new suite of tools to your recruitment armoury. And if you’ve yet to be convinced about the value of personality and ability testing as part of your recruitment process, take a free 30 day trial on us, and see for yourself.

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