Data, Not Your Gut, May Be Best Predictor of Hiring Success

Personally speaking, I've always stood on the side of the "go with your gut" school of decision-making when it comes to hiring, especially when presented with two candidates of similar experience.
But a recent study completed at the University of Toronto and explored in the Harvard Business Review makes an even stronger case for why hiring managers should rely far more on what the data tells them when filling an open position, at least to winnow down all the candidates for a given position to a few finalists.
The article, "In Hiring, Algorithms Beat Instinct," suggests that by using some very simple measures, hiring managers can improve the odds that a new employee will succeed by at least 25 percent. The equations applied to several areas, including:

  • Supervisor ratings
  • Number of promotions over time
  • Ability to learn from training

"The problem is that people are easily distracted by things that might only be marginally relevant, and they use information inconsistently," write the researchers in the HBR article. "They can be thrown off course by such inconsequential bits of data as applicants' compliments or remarks on arbitrary topics – thus inadvertently undoing a lot of the work that went into establishing parameters for the job and collecting applicants' data."
The researchers offer that at least 85 percent of hiring managers probably rely on their intuition when hiring – more than what the numbers tell them.
The solution is probably the best of both worlds, which may be why a growing number of businesses are beginning to experiment with using online platforms and video during the hiring process—at least to prescreen candidates for deeper-dive interviews. In fact, a recent study by OfficeTeam suggests that approximately 60 percent of human resources recruiters are using video for this purpose.
Service providers that offer platforms or technologies for this purpose include GreenJobInterview, Take the Interview, Interview4 and HireVue.
These tools can definitely be helpful from an efficiency standpoint. They do still put the onus back on humans to interpret which candidates are best on camera. But hiring managers can remove at least some element of bias by developing a set of standard questions that can be used as a benchmark for every applicant. Plus, they can also share video interviews with other key team members, to back up their own judgment calls.
Image: Courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons