A 7-Step Plan for Measuring and Improving Quality of Hire


by Lou Adler, LinkedIn Talent Blog

quality of hireRather than assess the quality of person, assess the quality of person’s accomplishments.

I recently wrote a post on how to calculate the ROI of improving quality of hire. Of course, to improve it you first have to measure it. All companies struggle with this. The problems involve figuring out the when, the what, the how and the who.

Those companies that dare attempt this use some indirect means like after-the-fact surveys and 360° performance reviews. Not only is this information coming too late to be useful, but its validity is too suspect to drive change. Comparing post-hire evaluations to some different and equally suspect pre-hire assessment tests compounds the problem.

Regardless of these challenges, the need to measure quality of hire is undisputed. Knowing how the best candidates are found and hired and who did the hiring offers companies a direct and immediate means to improve the quality of all of their sourcing, recruiting and hiring programs.

A performance-based hiring solution to measure quality of hire pre- and post

Performance-based hiring provides a solution. This approach was developed based on the requirement that the predicted and actual measures of quality of hire be the same and that they both directly assess actual performance. Despite its value, the solution requires HR to dramatically change how hiring is done. First, by eliminating traditional job descriptions. Second, by overhauling the interviewing and assessment process. It’s worth it though.

Here’s how performance-based hiring can be used to not only measure pre- and post-hire quality of hire, but also hire stronger people in the process:

1. Replace traditional job descriptions with performance objectives.

Rather than use skills- and experience-laden job descriptions to open up a requisition, the position needs to be defined as a series of performance objectives. For example, it’s hard to measure quality of hire when a person for an accounting manager’s job must have a CPA and 10+ years international accounting experience. However, when successful performance is defined as “Complete the upgrade of the international financial reporting system within 12 months,” pre-hire quality can be determined by how well the candidate has accomplished something comparable.

2. Convert competencies and behaviors into performance objectives.

Typical competencies are too vague as to be useful. For example, one of the competencies required on a recent search project for a health care scientist was strong verbal and written skills. By asking the hiring manager how these skills are used on the job the performance objective became, “Make formal monthly presentations to the executive team distilling the results and implications of the research into one-page summaries.” Getting a sample of someone’s work makes the pre-hire quality assessment straight-forward.

3. Summarize the most important objectives into a performance-based job description defining pre-hire quality of hire.

Any job can be described by 6-8 key performance objectives. These cover the major objectives and the big sub-tasks. Once agreed upon and prioritized by the hiring team, this type of job description ensures everyone is using the same measurement system.

4. Conduct a pre-hire performance review.

For each performance objective have the candidate describe something he or she has done that’s most comparable. The Most Important Interview Question of All Time describes this interviewing technique in detail. The comparability of the accomplishments and the growth of performance over time are direct indictors of pre-hire quality.

5. Use a talent scorecard to determine pre-hire quality of hire.

I could write a book about how to do this, but suffice it to say the assessment must be made on actual past performance in comparison to the performance-based job description. The scorecard system we use converts the evidence gathered from the performance-based interview into a hiring formula for success. The cumulative score represents predicted quality of hire.

6. Determine post-hire quality of hire using the same talent scorecard.

As long as the job has not changed materially, the candidate can be assessed on how well he or she met the performance objectives described when opening the requisition. Here’s a link to the talent scorecard with the hiring formula for success shown in the first column. Specific guidance for scoring is shown in each of the columns.

7. Compare pre- and post-hire quality of hire.

Any differences in predicted vs. actual quality of hire are used for process improvement. These differences are typically a change in job requirements, lack of consistency among the interviewers, a clash between the manager’s and new hire’s style or not enough attention paid to motivation to do the work and cultural fit.

Measuring quality of hire requires new thinking

There is no question that measuring quality of hire pre- and post the decision is an invaluable tool for improving every step in the hiring process. Relying on existing processes to extract the necessary information forces an indirect approach based on statistics and surveys. There is a better way. Rather than assess the quality of person, assess the quality of person’s accomplishments in comparison to what needs to be done. This is not rocket science just a different way of thinking. Not only will it result in better hires, but you’ll also be able to prove the why and how.

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