Competition is fierce – however, a word of caution from VUCA Director, Christine Locher: Do not compromise a rigorous selection process in your search for talent!

You’ve probably heard someone in a leadership position say, “Our employees are our greatest asset,” at one time or another. In referring to people as “assets” or “human capital”, it implies “employees” add value to the worth of an organisation, albeit in the form of an intangible asset unlike inventory, property or infrastructure.

Organisations measure assets such as buildings, supplies and materials, monitor production quality and audit costs and expenditures. Why then should it seem unreasonable to invest time and effort “stress testing” the recruitment processes used in selecting and promoting the people who are responsible for doing all those things – your “greatest asset”, your “human capital”?
As the war for talent hots up, it is imperative more than ever that organisations not cut corners or compromise – recruiting leaders, be it C-suite or Board members, is an expensive process with real costs escalating when it goes wrong. The impact of a wrong appointment can create havoc, with disruption to culture and morale, productivity, customer and market relationships, and opportunity loss.

“Hire slow” doesn’t mean dragging your heels but to hire with intention, not reaction. When you have a job to fill, you shouldn’t simply replace the last employee who held the position, replacing like with like. Get really clear on what your needs and expectations are relative to the strategic intent of the organisation. Define the skills and attributes required for long-term success, not just the immediate issues at hand. There is, needless to say, such a thing as hiring too slow, trying to find the “perfect match,” which doesn’t exist. This leads to “analysis paralysis”, and we can become too fearful to hire perhaps because we don’t have sufficient data and insights into each candidate upon which to inform our decision making.
Up against the entirely appropriate logic for greater rigour in the selection process is this need for “speed to market for talent” with organisations often competing for the same pool of talent. Competing forces that have come into play post COVID-19 mean that “competition for the right talent is fierce”. In the speed to market for talent, organisations are facing challenges in locating, attracting and retaining talented people. In this fierce race, one common theme is the desire to reduce the recruitment process cycle time because of the competition for candidates.

The value of assessing and validating the skills and experience of people during selection is without question. Though one might wonder why there is any question. To what extent, in the race for talent, is the rationale for rigorous and diligent evaluation compromised?
There is evidence which shows that the use of rigorous, contemporary, multifaceted candidate assessment methodologies inform better decision making and just make good business sense.

First impressions can sometimes set dangerous traps that lead to the “halo effect” – the reaction that may surround a charismatic candidate leading subconsciously to an attraction which can positively bias the evaluation of the candidate’s skills. How often have organisations hired on a candidate’s ability to impress as confident, articulate and eloquent, and lost focus on the more pertinent skills and behavioural attributes that a leader would need every day on the job?

The key to making the right decision on your “greatest asset” is in drawing together data and information to validate accomplishments more objectively, within the candidate’s CV, which brought them to the interview table. This means the application of a structured behavioural interview (with questions tailored to evaluate the candidate’s related skills against predetermined selection criteria), combined with (a minimum of 3) thorough referee checks tailored for each role (direct report, manager and peer) and media scans which serve to validate interview impressions.

Furthermore, the application of a personality or psychometric assessment and tailored executive assessments at the next stage of the recruitment process enables greater data and insight into the candidate’s personality traits and motivators and adds a further dimension upon which to base the hiring decision. Finally, qualification checking prior to an offer being made; to what extent are organisations independently validating the conferral of qualifications cited by candidates? Organisations should not merely rely on a copy of the documentation from the candidate but request a direct confirmation from the issuing body prior to appointment.
In summary, why compromise on a rigorous process which provides greater predictive validity of success. Consider the costs and the disruption – reputational, opportunity and financial.

Hold your HR teams and professional search firms accountable to ensure they provide you, the employer, with a timely recruitment strategy with multiple opportunities through the process to validate the candidate’s skills, their cultural fit and performance. It is through the application of rigorous, robust, due diligence, at every step of the way, that you will minimise the risk of the wrong hire.

For more information or guidance on the topic of effective recruitment, please contact VUCA Director and Advisor, Christine Locher on 0438 388 510 or email [email protected]