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In the diagram, there are four possible outcomes for the broken perception-based hiring process. The first two outcomes illustrate the organization getting lucky. In both outcomes, the hiring authority's perception matches the candidate's ability to perform on the job. The first (upper right hand quadrant) is when the candidate is perceived to be a high performer, is a high performer, and accepts the offer. The second (lower left hand quadrant) is when a candidate is perceived to be a low performer, is a low performer, and no offer is made. Both outcomes are based on subjective perceptions, making the choice dependent on luck or a "gut feel".

In this broken hiring process, there are two frequent outcomes where the organization does not get lucky. A hiring error is made. The first (lower right quadrant) is when the candidate is perceived as a high performer (based on interviews, resumes, experience, etc.), but on the job the new employee "doesn't get it". This is a Type 1 error. The candidate's resume and experience looked good, the interview went great, but on the job something went terribly wrong! Perceptions in the hiring process did not meet reality on the job. An equally costly error (upper left hand quadrant) is when a candidate is perceived as not being able to perform, but they are actually a high performer - the "right candidate" got away. This is a Type 2 error and results in not only a lost opportunity, but the possiblity the candidate was hired by a competitor. Type 2 errors are seldom recognized. As illustrated, this perceptual hiring process is rife with subjectivity and error.

Why does this time-honored, perception-based hiring process not work and what drives the hiring errors? Four key realities drive these errors:

  1. Inadequate Job Requirements: Organizations do not think through and document job requirements and expectations - they do not know what a successful candidate looks like, so it is impossible to find one.
  2. Resumes Are Ineffective: At best, resumes reflect what a job applicant has been allowed to do and at worst, they are exaggerated or fraudulent. Neither measures the applicant's capacity to do the job.
  3. Interviews Are Ineffective: Interviews are typically a biased and unstructured process. Interviews tend to introduce a strong "like me bias" into the hiring process, because interviewers gravitate to people with similar backgrounds and beliefs because it makes them feel comfortable.
  4. Cognitive Ability Not A Criterion: Although cognitive ability is the most accurate predictor for success in complex jobs, few organizations test applicants for this ability. Testing is the only way to measure cognitive ability.

Most organizations recognized the hiring process was broken; long before the US began the evolution to a complex knowledge economy. Not knowing how to fix the process, these same organizations continued to use the broken process in the new environment. This is not the answer and has resulted in an increasingly ineffective hiring process that relies on luck to find the right candidate; resulting in both bad hires and missed opportunities. The process is subjective and based on the hiring authority's perception of how a candidate will perform on the job, which is often flawed.

Problems with the Existing Hiring Process