Effective science based recruitment: six steps

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The science of recruitment

Effective science based recruitmentScience. It’s all around us and it’s opening up whole new worlds.

Science, as a concept, demands systematic analysis in order to build understanding. It demands observation and most of all it demands evidence to support claims.

Science in recruitment is about first defining quantitatively what the hiring manager is trying to achieve. It’s about using the concepts of Big Data and search to find potential applicants. It’s then, in a systematic way, about building evidence in support of applicants that will achieve great things for the firm. Effective science based recruitment brings the best of science to what is otherwise a woolly, error-prone management task. Effective science based recruitment predicts who will excel in a role.

Building a business is about embracing science in order to develop.

Recruiting key staff

Having the right people in the right posts builds your competitive advantage. When staff competencies match your business requirements you will improve your firm’s net worth.

When you recruit, you need to assemble enough evidence to allow you to predict which candidate will perform best in the job. This should be done in a scientific manner – using all the tools available to you to help in your prediction.

The challenges of recruiting staff

Getting the wrong person can be very costly. The business suffers. Turnover and profits will be impacted. Staff morale will be affected. And the problem won’t go away until the person leaves, or they are managed such that they perform as required.

Getting the right person in the first place is key. Recruitment is not an art – it’s a science.

Excelling in recruitment

At the heart of recruitment excellence is the assembly of enough high-quality evidence about a person to make a good prediction about whether or not they will excel when actually in post.

And such an approach can’t work unless the job to which the person is to be recruited is known. The evidence must relate to a job that is well specified.

Job specification and evidence underpin this scientific method – define the firm, define the job and work to fill the job with someone who will fit the organisation and who will excel.

Attributes needed are expressed. Then candidates with the required attributes are sought. And during selection, these attributes are tested for, observed and scored.

Intuition and gut feel are out, replaced by evidence of likely performance and fit. Only candidates who meet the requirements will be considered. Only the candidate with enough evidence in support will be appointed.

It’s the scientific approach. And it works. We’ve used it many times.

Effective science based recruitment: six steps

Step 1: Define the right job

People derive the greatest motivation from the job they do. And a well-crafted job contributes most to the business. Model your firm. Then identify the roles in each activity that you do. Next aggregate roles to build ideally crafted jobs. Then specify both job and ideal person as a foundation for search activities.

Step 2: Specify the right person

People are defined by unique personal characteristics: personality, attitudes, beliefs, abilities, competencies, knowledge and experience. Each characteristic can be defined by a series of attributes like conscientiousness, proactivity and ability to reason. Given a well-defined job, the characteristics of the person who will excel can be defined accurately. All that remains is to find candidates with these characteristics.

Step 3: Search for the right candidates

Traditional advertisements and jobs boards still have their place. But in this information age most potential candidates can be identified and approached directly. Using the job description and person specification along with key industry attributes and keywords it’s possible to find hundreds of viable candidates for each job. Using a scientific approach means candidates that match the role requirements can be found, even if they are not actively seeking a new role.

Step 4: Attract candidates

It’s tough to convince great candidates to look outside their current firm. Once attracted, great candidates need to be convinced to make an application illustrating how they meet the person specification. Then at first interview the aim is simple: to convince would-be candidates that your job and your firm are the best that there is.

Step 5: Selecting the best

Selection is a science. Those unique personal characteristics like conscientiousness, proactivity and ability to reason can be tested for and accurate assessments given. Skills, knowledge and experience give competency. Competency can be tested for and the results of those tests compared with that needed. Conducting structured second interviews permits every candidate to be properly evaluated. It’s a selection process that optimally predicts who will excel. It’s evidence based and it’s robust.

Step 6: Offer and induction


The point of offer is a critical time. You must get the offer right and manage the offer into acceptance. And it’s not over until the selected candidate is in post. It’s important to keep the dialogue going so that your new recruit does join you. Building an induction programme that assures both you and the candidate that the decision made was the right one is key to ensuring a great start for everyone.

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