Sourcing high-potential hires can be a challenge. Choosing the right one can be even more difficult. What do you do when too many of your candidates look and sound just alike? The answer lies in your choice of hiring tools….
You find yourself at a crossroads.
Over a period of weeks, you’ve scoured through dozens of resumes and conducted countless phone interviews to find the best two or three candidates. All things considered, you’ve done a good job sourcing potential talent.
Perhaps too good of a job.
Now you’re left with two or three applicants who appear equally qualified for the position.
Each excels in interviews.
Each has all the desired qualities and skill sets, and then some.
And from what you can tell, each seems like a good fit for the culture.
Short of having your candidates pull straws, how can you make the right choice?
The best hiring decisions can be hard to spot – even when you’re an expert.
When it becomes obvious that a new hire is not quite the right fit, criticism often falls on the decision-making of HR and recruiters. In actuality, many widely-accepted practices and hiring tools do very little to predict success. In fact, it can sometimes seem practically impossible to predict exactly how a hire will turn out with any degree of certainty.
First, there are a great number of variables that make a good hire – and even more that could cloud judgment.
For example, a search for a great sales leader might yield a number of candidates who are charismatic and high-energy, interview well, and boast a long list of impressive-sounding accomplishments to their name – all potentially good signs. Aptitude tests may also suggest that they have the hard skills required for the position.
But the weightier question to answer – whether they are in fact a good fit for the company’s mission, culture, and purpose – is much more difficult to determine through a few brief observations, a carefully curated resume, and a few tests.
So difficult in fact, that according to a 2015 survey of 134 companies, employers only get hiring decisions right half of the time.1 Even when sourcing talent internally, the problem persists. Another study suggests that even 40% of internal job moves – where a person has demonstrated their effectiveness within an organization long enough to be considered “high-potential” – ultimately end in failure.2
These misfires can be tremendously costly.
A poor hiring decision can ultimately rob an organization of up to $240,000 in hiring, pay, and retention-related expenses.3
This becomes more concerning the higher the position in the company, the more training is required for the position, and the higher the salary of said hire. For example, the stakes are much higher when hiring to fill a position in C-Suite, as these persons serve as cornerstones of an organization and cannot be easily or quickly removed.
Choosing the right hiring tools for digging deeper into the candidate’s potential
To more effectively predict and analyze a candidate’s potential, many organizations have learned to look beyond more obvious earmarks like the aforementioned.
Personality assessments have become the go-to hiring tool for gaining insight into what’s below the surface – and the Factor Five model is largely accepted as “the most robust way to describe personality differences.”4
Here, through a professional-grade assessment, a person’s personality is deconstructed into the following five “buckets”:
- Conscientiousness — The ability to stay organized, stay on task, work diligently, and bring a job to completion.
- Extraversion — The ability to be outgoing, assertive, friendly, and active.
- Agreeableness — The extent that someone is cooperative, trusting, polite, and compassionate.
- Neuroticism — The extent that someone worries, and is irritable, or easily stressed.
- Openness to Experience — The degree to which a person is curious, imaginative, flexible, and interested in trying new things.
It is true that personality traits have been shown to correlate to job performance in different roles. For example, salespeople who score high on extraversion and assertiveness tend to sell more.5 However – as statistics suggest – there’s much more to choosing the right hire than matching personality profiles.
The Problem with Personality
For one, there’s the issue of bias. People tend to answer based on what they think you want to hear and end up misrepresenting themselves – and not all personality-based hiring tools are designed to catch these misrepresentations.6
You’re also at the mercy of your candidate’s self-awareness. If your candidate has an inflated or deflated of self, you could end up with a potentially ill-fitting match.
So what other options are there? Fortunately, modern cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) provides us with a much more reliable (and stable) litmus test – one based on the internal mental processes that create the foundation for how we see the world, think about the world, and ultimately behave in the world.
We call those internal mental processes Root Source Thinking.
Root source thinking can best be illustrated as the internal code of the subconscious brain – the first domino in the series of internal events that result in decisions, performance.
For example, when you are exposed to any stimulus (something you hear, touch, smell, read, etc.) in a “micro-nano-second” your brain processes a series of incident recognition, sorting, and pattern matching. This triggers what you feel and how you respond.
Thus, how a person performs under pressure, how they work as part of a high-performance team, their ability to be genuinely flexible in a fast-paced environment – are all indelibly tied to these processes.
Interesting – but how do we measure these internal processes? With a hiring tool that gauges applicants for the following twelve Human Potential Indicators (HPIs):
Persons high in this driver are naturally decisive, assertive and achievement oriented, and generally enjoy taking charge and being independent. Their enthusiastic and assertive mindset and approach tend to make them good choices for leadership roles
Persons high in this driver are mostly self-sufficient and realistic in nature, with a high level of determination and fortitude. This driver generally lends to displaying responsibility and ownership in the workplace.
The higher a person is in this, the more transparent, approachable, and expressive of their thoughts and feelings they tend to be. This is something to look for when hiring for a role that requires a gifted communicator.
An applicant that tests high in this driver would likely have an understanding nature, and tend to be naturally more compassionate toward others. This person also likely has a well-developed sense of perception, picking up on non-verbal signals (“vibes”) and can quickly identify when someone is needing support – a vital quality in a team leader.
For positions that require a naturally organized, methodical individual, you’d want to look for someone who tested well for this driver. A highly systematic individual displays great attention to detail, and will be a natural at forming habits and disciplines in life, and managing time effectively.
A word of caution – an individual who tests high for this will likely hold themselves and their teammates to unrealistically high standards and expectations. Often, this is also projected onto others, coming across as being bossy, judgmental and self-righteous.
A person high in this driver is likely a smart, critical thinker, but their questioning, and pursuit of new ideas, solutions, and information, can come across as oppositional. The Skeptical driver is often reflective of an intelligent thinker, and can be used effectively when combined with good “people skills” as discussed previously.
Need For Reassurance
Testing high for this is a key indicator that your applicant might not be the best choice for leadership. This individual often experiences self-doubt and will likely give in to others to “keep the peace” – eroding assertiveness and leading to a constant seeking of approval of others.
Any applicant you consider should likely score low here – a high score suggests this is a person with a “quitter” attitude. Unless addressed, fear of failure will prevent them from challenging themselves in their role.
Again, this is a negative driver to watch for, as a high score suggests a person who worries or overthinks to their detriment. This individual is likely “thin skinned”, and may frequently over-personalize workplace situations.
Anxiety is not a driver like the others. This is a measurement of your internal stress, tension, and nervousness.
This is a measurement of your thinking speed. It is a metric that impacts your stress levels and can also impact anxiety where internal conflict already exists.
The Root Source Revolution
Clearly, any hiring tool that leverages root source thinking is light-years ahead of even the most detailed personality test.
Even better still – if you could identify thinking patterns among your top performers each hiring decision you make could potentially be informed by the knowledge of what makes your current top performers “tick” at the base level.
The Think-X system for data-driven hiring decisions not only allows organizations to identify the best talent today, but also to predictively shape hiring decisions for years to come.
Using a patented process, Think-X Hire creates a Top Performer Template (TPT) that provides an unbiased, EEOC-compliant analysis of a candidate’s fit. Recruiters can quickly sift through seemingly similar applicants and select only those that are sure to succeed.
- Shellenbarger, S. (2019, March 12). Companies Hire on Potential—If Only They Knew What That Meant. Wall Street Journal.
- Martin, J., & Schmidt, C. (2010, May 01). How to Keep Your Top Talent. Harvard Business Review.
- Stevenson, M. (2020, January 10). Bad Hiring Costs – By the Numbers. https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/.
- SCHNEIDER, Dr. L. (2018, August 1st). THE BIG 5 PERSONALITY TRAITS: HOW THEY APPLY TO HIRING. Plum.io.
- Connolly, K. (n.d.). Faking It: Can Job Applicants ‘Outsmart’ Personality Tests? Performance Programs.
- Wang, K. (2020, March 3). Pros and Cons of using Personality Tests For Jobs. Searchlight.ai.