There are perhaps four popular definitions of quality: doing what you say you will, getting things right first time, meeting the client requirements and having zero defects. Like many areas of business, all four are also key to the process of recruitment. All four, if done effectively in recruitment and selection, will mean that there is a heightened chance that the right candidate will be hired.
We all know the alternative.
It takes time to manage poor employees, and the heartache and management time that is wasted in dismissal is unspeakable. That’s without counting the cost of the lost opportunity that a poor employee brings. So managers must do everything in their power to get the right candidates in for interview and to select the best of these as their future employee. They must develop a sound recruitment and selection process and then follow this religiously.
Quality in Recruitment
Quality demands objectivity. It demands that hiring managers determine objectively what they need from a new employee. This is defined in the key knowledge, skills and attitudes or in competencies. These derive directly from the job requirement. It demands that the person specification is determined in as logical a fashion as possible from the job description. Whilst there is a bit of leap here – the manager has to step through the job description and genuinely say what sort of competencies are needed – this can nonetheless be objective. And subject matter experts can advise on the sort of qualifications, experience and personal traits needed to excel in the role. Finally only methods of selection that have high ability to predict future performance should be employed in rating candidates.
With this sort of flow from job analysis to job offer, the hiring manager is being as objective as possible.
What so often happens though is that the process starts off rationally but irregularities are introduced. Firstly during the step from job description to person specification, extra information is introduced. “The person needs to have a degree”, perhaps. Or, “they must be able to drive”. Only competencies that are derived directly from the previous stages must be developed here.
Then at the search stage, the recruitment consultant is perhaps not given the person specification but instead, talks to the hiring manager to understand what’s needed. Why develop an objective document and then throw it away? The requirement is in the person specification and in the quality analogy, quality is meeting the requirement. The recruitment consultant can’t meet the requirement unless that requirement is set out.
And finally, the methods of selection, the psychometric tests, the skills tests, the structured interview and the like, are sometimes replaced by much weaker instruments. The league table of selection methods in order of ability to predict job performance goes; aptitude tests, structured interviews, skills tests and elements of personality testing. Failing to conduct these correctly or replacing them with unstructured interviews or other weaker methods breaks the objectivity rule.
The predictive ability of all selection instruments is known but none are perfect. It’s not possible to get zero defects every time, but it makes no sense to use methods that are not optimal.
Getting quality into the recruitment and selection process means being as objective as possible and setting up a rational process that follows logically from job analysis to job offer. Human decision-making is highly subjective. HR consultants and recruitment consultants can help avoid subjectivity and make use of processes where decisions follow on logically. For example, research shows that sales people need to be high in openness to ideas. We can test for that. And we’d expect to see competency in working with customers. We can test for that too.
Recruiting managers: keep the faith!
Our message is simple. Hiring managers must surely want to use a process and methods that are most likely to maximise the contribution of the role to the turnover and profits of the firm. They can only do this if they employ a rational and objective process and use predictive methods throughout. Hiring managers must develop an optimal process and keep to it.