Boost Quality of Hire with Real-Time Feedback

By Lou Adler Jan 4, 2016

Remember your first GPS system? If you went out of range, it took about 15-20 seconds of recalculating to get back on course. By the time you received the new directions, you were often past the point of no return. Then you had to stop and let the system catch up. When feedback was delayed, you often ended up lost, or at least frustrated.

The same is true when it comes to hiring.

To improve quality of hire, the feedback loops in your recruiting, sourcing and hiring processes need to be in real time, not weeks or months after the fact.

If you can’t measure quality of hire until 6-12 months after the person is hired, you’re doomed before you even begin. You’ll either hire the wrong people, create havoc among your hiring managers or discover too late that your latest solution is no better than what you started with.

Hiring better people needs to be the major objective of a company’s talent acquisition efforts; the objective is not to be more efficient at what’s currently being done.

The solution for measuring and monitoring the quality of your hires starts by applying the same criteria to applicants that hiring managers use to rank their best people after they’ve been hired. Here are the characteristics of a great hire:

  • Exceeds expectations.
  • Consistently delivers results.
  • Works well with the team and fits within the culture.
  • Doesn’t make excuses.
  • Doesn’t need a lot of direction or coaching.
  • Self-motivated to do the work required.

As long as you define the job expectations, the role within the team and the organizational culture ahead of time, all of these characteristics are measureable before the person is hired.

This idea is captured in the Performance-based Hiring Job Fit Index graphic. To measure a job applicant’s pre-hire quality of hire, rank the candidate on a 1-5 scale for each of the factors. There are seven factors in total: The five lightly shaded factors measure a candidate’s ability to do the work and the two darker shaded factors assess the person’s motivation to do it. High scores in both sections are required.

(Note: The Achiever Pattern indicates that the person has received formal recognition for doing similar work elsewhere, such as a promotion or special award, or has been assigned to stretch projects ahead of their peers.)

Metrics Needed to Track and Maximize Pre-Hire Quality of Hire

A data feedback system will ensure that your systems and processes are on track for achieving the best pre-hire quality of hire. Here are the metrics to track:

Candidates interviewed per hire. If a hiring manager needs to see more than four candidates to make a hiring decision, you have a major problem somewhere in your hiring process. Most often the problem is that the recruiter and hiring manager are not clear on the real job needs.

Sourcing mix of passive, referred and active candidates. For high-demand and management positions, recruiters need to expend extra effort finding passive candidates and getting candidate referrals. Together, these two groups should represent at least 50 percent of the candidates that recruiters present to hiring managers. When this percentage is less, managers typically want to see more candidates than necessary.

Posting, e-mail and voicemail response rates. You’ll get a sense of how effective your recruiting messages are by tracking the response rates. The goal is steady improvement, so track this daily or weekly. To get above a 20-percent response rate, your e-mails and job postings need to highlight the employee value proposition and emphasize the work itself, not the skills needed to do the work.

Quality of your talent pools for critical positions. Before any search, have your recruiters pick the 20 best resumes of people already in your company database. If your managers decline to see any of them, you need to initiate some major talent branding programs to improve the quality of potential applicants in your talent pool. This will result in reduced time-to-fill by creating a just-in-time hiring process.

Passive candidates who express interest on the first call. You’ll find out if your recruiters are any good at recruiting passive candidates by tracking the percentage of passive and referred candidates contacted who agree to an exploratory discussion. Anyone can get the names of great people. Only great recruiters can persuade them to be interested in an exploratory discussion. Shoot for 80 percent or better on this metric.

Passive candidate yield from the top of the funnel to the bottom. Keeping passive candidates engaged from the first contact to acceptance of an offer drives improvement in quality of hire. For this metric you should track the number of passive candidates seen by your hiring manager, how many are extended offers and how many accept.

Passive and active candidate offer acceptance rates. It’s easy to get active candidates to accept your offers within your compensation range, so this should be more than 90 percent. But if your passive and referred candidates aren’t accepting offers at least 50 percent of the time within your salary bands, you either have a compensation problem or your jobs aren’t true career moves.

Sourcing channel effectiveness. Track the source of all your candidates, either by their Job Fit Index scores or some other measure of quality. This will give you a big clue as to where you should be spending your recruiting resources.

Assessment variance. I suggest the hiring team members share their evidence as they rank the seven factors for each candidate in the Performance-based Hiring Job Fit Index on a 1-5 scale. If the variance on any factor is more than plus or minus a half point, get more data before deciding whether or not to move forward with the candidate. Wide variances indicate a process that’s out of control.

When trying to recruit great talent, if you don’t know what you’re looking for before you start looking, you’ll never know when you find it. Nor will you be able to assess each candidate properly.

Obtaining some measure of pre-hire candidate quality is an essential first step in setting up a talent acquisition process and tracking system. With real-time feedback you’ll then know when you’re off course and what you need to do to get back on track. When the data is weeks or months old, it’s too late to recover.

Tracking and using data this way needs to be part of any HR leader’s skill set, in order to convert HR into a strategic asset by ensuring that your company is hiring the best person possible for every position.

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group, a consulting and training firm based in Irvine, Calif., that helps companies upgrade their talent acquisition programs. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007) and The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench Media, 2013).


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