Irreducible Search for Hiring Accuracy: Talent Decisions Will Not Get Better with Practice
Talent Decisions Will Not Get Better with Practice
This is the third in a series
about barriers to selection success. The
first looked at the gap between what HR practitioners believe and what has been
proven through scientific research (Link to – How Pole Vaulting Helps with Better Hiring Decisions). The second examined the reasons that there is
no perfect approach to talent decision making.
Here we discuss how imperfect talent decision making is…and how to
manage the imperfectibility barrier.
We want to believe there is a way to achieve nearly
perfect accuracy in predicting future job performance: do more interviews? Better resume screening? Some really clever (or crazy) pre-screening
Somehow we feel sure that if we just figure that out that
magic question or secret selection step, we would prove that “…the complex
characteristics of applicants can be best assessed by a sensitive, equally
complex human being.” Not going to happen.
Here is what does happen: we rely on our own expertise – it
is more socially acceptable than relying on some objective test score or statistical
formulas. It is completely understandable that HR practitioners, recruiters,
and hiring managers would be reluctant to undermine their status as hiring
experts by administering a paper-and-pencil test or plugging ratings into a
mechanical formula – these are too impersonal and cannot possibly capture the
nuances we think are necessary for good decision making, right?
Actually not right. Assessments and statistical formulas
have proven to improve selection decision accuracy by first, identifying the
non-observable characteristics that drive successful performance on the job and
second, delivering that information to the decision maker to incorporate into
her selection decision.
It is true that people are somewhat unpredictable. It is
important to know that selection decision making is simply not perfectible –
there are always things about the candidate that are un-knowable at the time of
the decision. But adoption of proven
decision support tools like valid assessments and highly structured interviews
improves decision accuracy.
And one more thing…companies whose HR professionals stay
current with research literature have better bottom-line financial performance
than those who don’t read the literature. Does that make a research-based decision
making more attractive?
Written By: Dr. Deborah Kerr
Rynes, Sara L., Amy E. Colbert, and Kenneth G.
Brown. 2002. Seven Common Misconceptions about Human Resource Practices. Academy
of Management Executive 16 (3): 92 – 103.