Predictive Hiring: Elevate Your Talent Decisions with Data

By Emily Loberto

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Too many hiring practices are rooted in hunches and unreliable gut feelings. Today’s technology makes it possible to systemize predictive hiring around more reliable indicators that speak to an applicant’s potential long-term success in your business — especially their ability to adapt, innovate, and manage change.

Why "Hard Skills" are Poor Predictors

Most companies assess years of experience, attained education, and (once in the interview stage) subjective impressions of the candidate's skills, knowledge, and perhaps "cultural fit." Yet this approach leads to inconsistency in hires, and there's little accountability down the road regarding whether the person is successful or not.

After all, it isn't easy to gauge how much of a potential asset the candidate may be to your company if you focus exclusively on hard skills and knowledge. For example, when hiring a salesperson, looking only at the size of their sales region or the volume of deals signed in a given year doesn't give you the whole picture. Other measures are needed to reveal whether that individual will be adaptable and show the social skills necessary to succeed as your business grows and innovates.

Gauging a candidate's potential based on their hard skills and knowledge will only get more complicated in the future. With emerging jobs such as Augmented Reality Journey Builder, AI-Assisted Healthcare Technician, and Chief Trust Officer, how do you find candidates with the relevant education and previous work experience? 

Navigating Today’s World of Work

Your hires will need to demonstrate abilities different from those of the employees you brought on board a decade ago. Looking forward, it's likely you'll be searching for the individuals that: 

  • Innovate (recognizes opportunities, thinks creatively) 
  • Collaborate (knows when to lead and when to support the team) 
  • Adapt (open to change and learning new things) 
  • Solve problems (can propose new, effective approaches) 
  • Observe critically (objectively evaluates situations to identify possible improvements) 
  • Resolve conflict (negotiates, stays calm under pressure, keeps the team in mind). 

We call these talents, and they've transformed how we understand and measure human potential. However, the traditional resume review and bottom-of-the-funnel employee assessments don't address these attributes. 

Truly understanding a candidate's potential fit into your workplace means forming a well-rounded view. Yet, for reliable results, you can't base your interpretation of soft skills on your personal feelings alone. Instead, bring predictive hiring into the process by turning your team into one more arm of your organization, learning and acting in a data-driven way. 

Optimizing Predictive Hiring Practices

Google is an excellent example of a company that captured people metrics to improve its predictive hiring process and reduce time-to-hire. In 2013, the company set out to crunch all its hiring, firing, and promotion data since its 1998 incorporation to identify the top seven traits that predict a new hire’s long-term success. 

You don’t need to be as well-resourced as the search engine giant to make people analytics work for your business. To take a proactive, forward-looking hiring stance, recruiters instead might assess metrics around candidates’: 

  • Competencies (from psychometric assessments, structured interviews, etc.) 
  • Cognitive ability 
  • Personality 

Still, you need to find the best tools to gather this data. While MBTI and DISC assessments may make candidates feel good about themselves, they’re about as predictive of on-the-job success as a BuzzFeed quiz. 

A Data-Driven Approach to Predictive Hiring

It's possible to assess cognitive ability, social intelligence, and personality and to use multi-dimensional results to predict the talent that applicants will show on the job using the science of Industrial/Organizational psychology.

Questions asking candidates to identify patterns and relationships can gauge problem-solving skills. Situational intelligence items can assess interpersonal competencies. Then, with algorithms powered by artificial intelligence, these results can be combined to estimate how well each applicant's talents fit with what is required for a given role or job. This allows you to identify top candidates in a reliable, predictable, and data-driven way. 

HR professionals are challenged by a need for speed and efficiency. At the same time, they should be hiring not only for the current job opening but with an eye to the individual's long-term success at the company and their ability to adapt, innovate, and manage change. Thus, optimizing your talent practices for predictive hiring has several benefits: 

  • Hire more top performers 
  • Mitigate risk 
  • Transform subjective and biased hiring practices 
  • Ability to measure the health of your talent pipeline 

By collecting competency ratings, cognitive ability, and personality data and examining it in relation to outcome data such as job performance and turnover, you can see trends and identify relationships to hire reliably and responsibly.