An ounce of predictive data is worth a pound of futile nice to have’s

Adam Bryant, a Columnist at the New York Times, published a recent article on Google’s insights on recruiting and hiring. The article highlighted four major points from an interview with Google’s Senior VP for People Operations, Laszlo Bock. The responses to the article were greatly varied, but as with any insight, each responder had their own agenda and heard specific points that positioned them to hire like Google, now be hired by Google or criticize Google hiring practices. While valuable information and interesting insight, the information provided in the interview was extremely specific to Google hiring practices. The key findings here are not theories, they’re discoveries made after exhaustive analysis of copious data. After all, this is Google. Data is their business.

Working with a variety of clients through the years, it’s always been clear that those with the most successful talent acquisition and workforce planning strategies are those who know their specific data. They may not have the same findings as Google, but they’ve certainly looked at the same concepts to evaluate where they are most successful.

If you want to move towards practices like Google, you need to ask the same questions and accept that you may need to make changes, just as they’ve done. Even Google recognized they had room for improvement in their hiring process after asking the right people the right questions. With HR being tasked with the ever popular challenge of doing more with less, asking the right questions to drive towards efficient and effective hiring practices is no longer a luxury, but an absolute necessity. Most importantly, the core findings highlighted in the interview suggest that organizations may be missing out on some of their most successful employees by measuring data that simply isn’t predictive of a good hire.

Google found that the ability to hire well is random. By investing some time and energy into the research (talent intelligence), you can fairly quickly identify if in fact, your ability is equally as random. Frankly, it may be much more predictive than Google’s. I suspect, this wasn’t easy for Google to admit. However, by doing so, they saved themselves an exceptional amount of time and resources invested in the wrong research. If you think it’s predictive and it’s not, you’ll waste a painful amount of money and time analyzing futile data. Obviously, that time and money can be better spent on the data that is predictive.

Google also found that behavioral questions were far more valuable than hypothetical brain-teasers. This may be the most refreshing of their findings. Several years ago, I had the great pleasure of working with a global client who was expanding into the US. We worked intimately with HR, and watched with them, as we saw candidate after candidate be disqualified after the “brain-teaser” portion of the interview. With hiring manager frustrations mounting, the HR team boldly asked each of the executives to participate in an exercise of interviewing their top performer with the exact same approach they were using on the candidates. Not one of the team passed the brain-teaser interview. It was immediately eliminated and replaced with an extended behavioral interview. More than 20% of the candidates they eventually on-boarded came from the group who has been previously disqualified in the brain-teaser (many, of course, were not willing to revisit).

Another Google finding suggests that consistency is key for leadership. Now more than ever, organizations are learning the true value of a strong partnership between HR and the internal business clients. With growing collaboration and consistency, the two bring an exponentially more powerful ability to be predictive in their hiring. We have consistently found with our Fortune 1000 clients, that when quantitative and qualitative data (talent intelligence) are shared between HR and internal business clients, recruitment efficiencies improve by over 30%.

Google generally found GPA’s were also not good predictors of successful employees. Asking this question may vary in importance depending on your industry. However, it’s nonetheless important to know if you’re tracking something that is a “nice to have” or a truly predictive hiring tool. Nice to have’s are a fine luxury in a well-populated candidate market, but they don’t always have a place in more competitive and largely restrictive markets with limited talent pools.

The reality is you have to know what factors are truly predictive in order to get the most out of your internal and external resources. Talent Intelligence can help. After all, an ounce of predictive data is worth a pound of futile nice to have’s.

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