Quality of Hire vs. Recruiter Competencies
Let me start off this article by saying that I’ve been working with top candidates, top hiring managers, and top recruiters for the past 30 years. As a result of this we’ve developed training tools based on how top candidates make job change decisions, how top managers who can attract and recruit the best talent make their decisions, and how top recruiters out-produce their average peers by factors of 100-200% or more. Many of these ideas, tools, and techniques are described in my book, Hire With Your Head (Third Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2007).

As a result of John Sullivan’s great ERE article, Five Ugly Numbers That You Can’t Ignore, describing the failure rates in hiring, I decided to do a little bit more investigating. John’s article highlighted some unexpected hiring concerns. Here are four of his points that stood out for me:

• 50% hiring manager regret rate - The Recruiting Roundtable
• 46% failure rate - Leadership IQ
• Great hire 19% success rate - Leadership IQ
• Top performers are 40% to 67% more impactful than average performers – McKinsey & Co

In addition, this past week, I also learned that the Corporate Executive Board’s Recruiting Roundtable published a more recent report indicating that the success rate of hiring top performers was actually closer to 10% than 20%. As I started checking this out, I came across this interesting chart published by them. It graphically shows recruiter competencies in comparison to quality of hire and productivity.

In rank order, based on quality of hire and productivity (time to hire), here’s how the recruiter competencies line up according to The Recruiting Roundtable:

1. Hiring manager interaction – the hiring manager/recruiter partnership is a critical aspect of recruiting top performers.
2. Understanding job needs – while very important, there seems to be a problem with clarifying real job needs up front.
3. Conversion skills – being able to convince quality prospects to consider your opportunities.
4. Assessment skills – I assume this has to do with quickly determining if a candidate is a contender or not.
5. Selection skills – I assume this has to do with separating the wheat from the chaff.
6. Candidate care skills – being service-oriented is less important than being persuasive.
7. Sourcing skills – while important for time of hire, relatively unimportant from a quality standpoint. The idea here is that finding candidates is easier than converting them into serious candidates.
8. ATS skills – there appears to be a correlation with being great with technology and being transactional. Unfortunately, this skill is counterproductive when it comes to dealing with top people who want more information.
9. Interviewing skills – being strong at interviewing seems to be less important when assessing differences in quality. This could be that recruiters are unwilling to send out candidates who aren’t perfect matches to the job description. This article from Leadership IQ on Why New Hires Fail sheds light on this, suggesting that traditional behavioral interviewing misses job and team fit.

Based on this, here’s how The Recruiting Roundtable has summarized their findings:

Recruiting functions should focus their upskilling efforts on a handful of customer-facing capabilities that demonstrate real impact on new hire quality and time to productivity. These skills—hiring manager interaction skills, needs definition skills, and candidate conversion capability—have the potential to improve quality of hire by up to 20% and time to productivity by as much as 18%.

Based on the hundreds of recruiters who have taken our Recruiter Boot Camp course and the thousands of managers who have taken our Performance-based Hiring for Managers program – where we focus largely on developing these core skills – these estimates are far too low. For example, we have seen quality of hire soar by 50% or more at IBM/Cognos for sales reps selling sophisticated software; at Verizon Communications Systems and AIG Valic for customer service positions; at HealthEast Care Systems for nurses and technical staff; at one of the top financial institutions in the country for bankers and tellers; at the YMCA for hiring a hundred thousand camp counselors; and at dozens of mid-size companies around the country for technical, managerial, and executive positions.

While there are probably other ways of obtaining these same benefits, we have determined that the key to improving quality of hire and productivity requires these three core steps:

1. The recruiter and hiring manager must clearly describe job needs up front using a Performance Profile instead of a job description when taking the assignment
2. The hiring team must understand these real job needs and then use an evidence-based assessment process similar to our two-question performance-based interview and 10-Factor Talent Scorecard. Collectively, this ensures a complete fit with the job, the hiring manager, the team, and the company culture. (Note: the first question is a modified form of behavioral interviewing that ties all examples to specific accomplishments. The second question is a form of job simulation focusing on right brain thinking.) This ties directly to Leadership IQ’s findings as to why top managers succeed in hiring top performers.
3. An integrated recruiting process from sourcing through closing that highlights the career aspects of candidate decision-making to maximize conversion rates.

If all of this seems intriguing, but if you’re somewhat cynical, either buy Hire With Your Head, or audit Module 1 of our next Recruiter Boot Camp Online.

The first module of Recruiter Boot Camp Online provides an overview of the complete Performance-based Hiring process, plus details on how to take an assignment by preparing a Performance Profile. As noted above this is the second most important factor in improving quality of hire and increasing productivity. We agree. If all of this seems intriguing and you’re not cynical, sign up for the course right away and start increasing quality of hire, improving your conversion rates, finding more top people, and becoming a true partner with your hiring manager clients.