How to Make the Right Hiring Decision

Published by:
Joe Caccavale
July 2, 2020
 min read

Work Sample Cheatsheet

Recruitment can often feel like a minefield. Confronted by hundreds of CVs and cover letters, you have to somehow whittle candidates down to one applicant worthy of the role. And at the end of it all, you might even regret your decision; a bad hire can cost you time, money, and leave you at the end of your tether (as our very own Demetre found out). 

To ensure you hire the most capable candidate (whilst dramatically simplifying the hiring process), we recommend using data-driven recruitment methods. Not sure what these are? Read on to find out how you can harness data to make the right hiring decision.

Ditch CVs 

CV’s aren’t worth the paper (or erm, the PDFs) they’re written on. What do they actually tell us? They give us the name, age, education, and extracurricular activities of an individual. Interesting, perhaps, but not information you should base your hiring decision on. For a start they act as a trigger for a cascade of different unconscious biases; research has shown that the CVs of those with white, male names receive far more call-backs than those with female, ethic minority ones). And aside from this huge flaw destined to decrease the diversity of your workforce, there’s the simple fact that a CV simply isn’t predicative of how someone will perform in a job. Cut them out of the process.  

Include work samples 

Work samples are the most predictive talent assessment you can use.It’s a radically simple idea – base a candidate’s merit on their ability to do the job they’re applying for. A CV or set of abstract psychometric tests can’t give you this info, but work samples can. By seeing how a candidate approaches a problem (that’s actually related to the role) and how they explain their process, you’ll have a good understanding of how they’ll perform on the job. Not only this, but they might actually enjoy it (our software developers certainty did). 

And don’t stop there either – anonymise the answers that candidates submit. This means that if an applicant scores badly on one particular question, it won’t affect your perception of them going forward (’confirmation bias’).

Structured interviews 

Now the business end of proceedings, the interviews. Meeting a stranger in person, whether for an interview or otherwise, is an event wrought with bias.   Without us even knowing, our minds seek the smallest of cues about them in order to create a fuller picture.

How they speak, how they hold themselves, and even how attractive they are all come into the picture, influencing our overall perception of them.

This isn’t our fault – it’s just how we’ve evolved. It does, however, have some serious negative consequences for recruitment. Blinkered by our unconscious biases, we’re at risk of making a hash of our hiring. 

To avoid this from happening, we recommend the structured interview.

In essence, this is just an interview that follows a predetermined set of questions aimed at probing the skills of the candidate; no chit-chat about where they went to university and no bantering about last week’s football –  just a simple series of task-based questions that are designed to uncover an applicant’s ability. How does this help? It keeps you on the straight-and-narrow, minimising the space for your unconscious bias to come creeping in.

Even better (in fact, highly recommended), is having the interview conducted by three people – not only does this help to further reduce any judgments made on irrelevant aspects of a candidate, but it also gives interviewers an oversight on how they appraise the skills of candidates. Need any more convincing? Google uses structured interviews as part of its recruitment process. Done. 

Traditional ways of recruiting just don’t cut the mustard anymore (if they ever did, in fact). They generally lead to a lacklustre homogeneous workforce with a dearth of capability – hardly ideal. If you want to grow your company in a meaningful way, swap out the CV and bias-ridden bants for job-related tasks and structured interviews. 

Applied has created a data-centric recruitment platform, enabling companies of all sizes to hire the best people regardless of arbitrary aspects like where they’re from, who they know, or how they look. Curious?  Request a free demo of Applied’s platform.