How to Improve Hire Quality

How to Improve Hire Quality.

Perhaps the most important Key Performance Indicator for any recruiting team is the Quality of Hire. Different companies measure this differently, but to make it simple let’s say that a quality hire is one that is still there on day 366 and is contributing to enterprise value beyond minimum performance expectations.

Getting to a quality hire is a monster of a challenge. In fact, a study of 20,000 new hires conducted over a three year period found that only 19% of the new hires were considered successful!  After reading that study, I started to develop a system to quickly identify the best potential candidate fit for clients.

It seemed like every candidate wanted more money, bigger titles, better commutes, work-life balance and so on. It bugged me that none of these things firmly addressed improving the probability of a quality hire.

Over time, and with a lot of observation, aligning three categories consistently gave me the best indicator that we put the right candidate in the right role.

The first two, opportunity fit and leadership at both the executive and tactical levels, are easy to explain and identify.  The third, culture, was the most difficult because, 15 years ago, I saw it as a catch-all for anything not included in the first two.

That was the wrong conclusion.

Let’s define culture in simple terms.

It is how we go about business, not why. Working with executive and professional searches over the years has shown me why technical professional work can be very different from why a Chief Operating Officer is willing to do what they do. Different individuals can have radically different reasons why they are motivated to do their jobs.
It is “how we go about our business” that is the binding glue for long-term fit and success.
We can take a candidate with an incredible track record of top performance and put them into a context that is completely at odds to their previous success.
For example, taking a person from a robust and well-developed organization with loads of resources and putting them into a new, more nimble organization that lacks similar resources and development can create challenges. The candidate may be forced to compensate by working longer hours, taking shortcuts, moving at a frenetic pace while juggling tactical and strategic decisions with incomplete information against pressing deadlines. That takes a lot of energy. The more energy used to adapt from one very different context to another means there is less energy to focus on excelling at primary functions.

Align candidates with a business.

If we can more closely align how a candidate goes about business with how an organization does it, both can dedicate more energy into fulfilling responsibilities and accomplishing performance goals.
What drove this point home for me was placing a Director from a huge international company into a firm about one-fifth the size. The reporting requirements and deadlines were all similar, but the new firm had a much smaller staff, less developed systems, less engaged executive leadership and ambiguous processes. The new Director lasted about seven months before starting to look to return to a more established context.
When working on replacing that Director, another of my candidates received an offer with a big step up in compensation and title. She came from a smaller organization and taught me an important lesson…she declined the offer. Sure, the money and title were tempting but she understood that how she would have to go about business there to succeed was not aligned with her personal culture.
She really drove the lesson home when I placed her into a smaller context, not too dissimilar to her prior organization, for a small compensation increase and title. Ten years later, she is now the CTO having grown along with the company. She succeeded beautifully because cultures were aligned.
What I learned is that even when a candidate has a history of top performance and the business DNA to go far, aligning the cultures, the “how” we go about business, stacks the deck for success.
Some advice for hiring teams: spend the time and effort necessary to gain clarity about your business culture and spend the time in interviews and reference checks to make sure your candidates are aligned with it. That can make all the difference between a successful hire who outperforms and builds a career with your organization and having to find a replacement a few months down the road.

Let us help you find the right candidate for your organization.

We improve the quality of hire and speed up the time to fill specialized Tech roles, stretching recruiting budgets further.

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