What is data-driven recruiting? And why does it matter?

What is data-driven recruiting? And why does it matter?

Let’s start with an emotional definition: Data-driven recruiting is an island of sanity in a world that is full of theories and opinions about human nature. 

Many concepts, fashions and fads in HR may sound impressive, provocative, thoughtful, etc. however, their merit should be judged on their results. 

However, a nuanced approach to data is required; or else you will end up measuring the wrong things and missing the forest by focusing on the few trees in the front row.

Can you see clearly?

Now, really, what does good business look like? Do you have any clue about that? 

Is it selling fraudulent products to victims? Is it over-selling at a very low price and exhausting all stock for a great year, before filing for bankruptcy? Or, is it overpromising services that you’re unable to deliver? The answer to these questions sounds obvious; but, keep in mind that all these strategies generate a great year-1 profit, if that is what you are measuring and adjusting for.

To this one may reply: 

We’re not so naive, we have some defined competencies or some commonly shared values that define how our targets are to be achieved. All our managers judge people based on their adherence to our shared values, plus performance.

That’s great news, clearly an improvement; however is that what you need for data-driven recruiting? 

Please, be aware that you are currently — and probably — measuring against the “subjective – hopefully leaning towards objective” opinion of a manager about someone, instead of the famous ‘bottom line’.

What’s important in data-driven recruiting?

Yes, proper, trained, as good as possible, measurement of performance is the most crucial element for a data-driven approach. A measurement system that is inclusive of your values; one that tries to measure performance and not promotion. Because a good performer may not require a promotion or would make a bad manager, or would be happy to remain a great professional that is not responsible for other people’s work.

From vision to measurement in data-driven recruiting

Now that you know what you really want, you will soon realize that ability is good, but not enough, for hiring properly. You definitely want a person with values; hiring a clever and ruthless person is the definition of a bad idea. And you also need people that will bring a new perspective to what you are doing. What a better way to do that, than with data-driven recruiting practices?

You will eventually realize that many of the abilities are emotional or habitual, rather than cognitive. People that like to analyze behavior are better at convincing; others that can deal with harsh criticism are better at cold calling people. You want a health-care worker that can communicate on a humane level with another person; and the list goes on and on. That’s hard to do without sufficient information. A data-driven recruiting approach may, nowadays, be the only viable way to go.

Each profession has its own needs. Sometimes it’s not only the profession, but also how your company is positioned in the market. Your company may be the introvert in an extrovert market or vice-versa. You need to find that out, as soon as possible. Again, data-driven recruiting will help you tremendously in your alignment with your market.

There are quite a few solutions out there to help do these things. But, what if you’re not sufficiently trained to reach the right conclusions? To that end, TraitForward offers a wealth of ready-made options that allow you to pick constructs from existing, valid questionnaires; or easily create your own personality questionnaire. Use it wisely.

Creating a virtuous cycle

Now comes the most important part; feeding back and improving your selection, based on feedback from previously selected people. When done correctly, this can make or break your company. And, believe it or not, both outcomes are for the better.

Measurement of people is an extremely nuanced thing. Data-driven recruiting practices will largely facilitate the process. To that effect, relying “blindly” on measurement will strengthen your existing culture, since people that fit the current culture are the ones that will match. In other words, it will assure you get more of the same. That means, more successful induction programs and less turnover. 

Is this a good thing? It depends. Sometimes, you may be extremely happy with fine-tuning your company. Some other times, you may recognize that something is wrong with your culture and you must fix it. Hiring should be aligned with your goals, even if it’s against the flow today. And that’s how data-driven recruiting practices can help you create a virtuous cycle for your business.