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Hiring is Broken, Why Not Fix It?

Over the last month I have had the chance to meet with several hundred professionals about their talent challenges.  It is clear that hiring the right employees is a big concern for executives, managers, and HR professionals.  But many feel the hiring process is broken: hiring takes too long and the results are too unpredictable.  Both HR and hiring managers are frustrated by the lack of accurate decision data about candidates.

In a recent Affintus poll, 100% of respondents said they expect that hiring the right talent will be a challenge over the next 12 months; in another poll, 87% expressed the same concern.  Another survey published earlier this year reported that despite the unemployment level and a large pool of applicants for nearly every job, executives and managers are worried about being able to hire the right people.

As it turns out, they have good reason to worry.  More than half of companies looking for employees report that it was so hard to find the right person,  they just gave up!  Almost 50% of survey respondents reported they eventually settled for a “good enough” candidate rather than continue to look for the right candidate.

About 55% of respondents said it took an average of 60 days to fill an open position – that means a lot of sales not closed, a lot of customers not served, and a lot of frustration for both managers trying their best to fill the work gap and applicants trying their best to find the right job.

Back to the Affintus poll – we asked what information sources managers use to make their decisions. Respondents told us they rely most on the candidate’s past experience and interview performance as the basis for making a hiring decision. A good number of managers also rely heavily on their “gut reaction” and intuition about the candidate.

The dissatisfaction with the results of hiring is understandable since experience and interview performance cannot predict future job success.  (The correlation coefficient for these is about .18 in case you are interested in those sorts of things.)  In fact, basing a hiring decision on resumes and interviews yields the same success rate as random selection.  Really.  And random selection is cheaper…

Most managers have made at least one hiring mistake that took weeks (or months) and thousands of dollars to fix.  We all know hiring is arguably the most important and expensive managerial responsibility.   So why are we not fixing the process?

Written by: Dr. Deborah  L. Kerr

deborah@affintus.com