Why Now is the Time to Invest in Your Selection Process

February 8, 2023

min read


Kerry Wang

A need to “do more with less” is on everyone’s minds. Rising interest rates, a potential recession, and a renewed focus on efficient growth has led companies of all shapes and sizes to slow or stop hiring entirely - ourselves at Searchlight included. This might make you think that it’s a bad time to invest in the talent selection process. But in reality the opposite is true. The best companies know that talent is incredibly important to their success and it’s short-sighted to take their eye off the talent ball. And the best talent leaders know that now is the best time to revamp their hiring processes (after a well-deserved break to catch their breath, of course). 

Why now? 

First, because TA leaders finally have bandwidth to invest in strategic projects now that they’re no longer swamped trying to hit ambitious headcount goals. Second, lower headcount goals means every single open role is critical to the business. Organizations can’t afford bad or even mediocre hires when the stakes are so high. Third, widespread layoffs in tech have created the best talent market for companies in recent memory. To fully capture this opportunity, they must ensure their hiring processes are primed to select the best candidates.

Finally, hiring will inevitably come back and when the frenetic hiring pace returns, leaders will wish they spent the time investing in quality controls for their selection process. The window of opportunity is now - don’t miss it.

Companies Need to Raise the Bar for Talent

This is easier said than done. The selection process itself can seem like a puzzle. Even though designing and implementing a selection process is core to every TA leader's job, most selection processes don’t actually predict how well a candidate will perform if they are hired. Don’t take this personally. Even companies with large People Analytics teams dedicated to this problem struggle with it. Google’s hiring team found that unstructured interviews don’t do a good job predicting who will excel at Google. As humans, we naturally make snap judgements about people influenced by our unconscious biases - that’s how our brains are wired. A good selection process needs to overcome these assumptions and biases.

But despite the difficulty, building a predictive selection process is well worth it. Benefits include:

  • Increased hiring efficiency. Getting everyone involved in recruiting, hiring and managing new employees onto the same page saves hundreds of hours and avoids the risk of misalignment leading to a bad hire (and then having to go through the process all over again).   
  • Improved employee performance. Better employees leads to better customer service, better operational efficiency, and ultimately better business performance and revenue.
  • Reduced attrition. Employees that don’t fit well into the role they were hired for probably won’t stay for long. Attrition is expensive and drags down productivity, morale and internal pipeline for promotions or lateral movement into future open roles. 

Hiring quality can slip when the TA team is overwhelmed during high-growth periods. But if they spend their slow times getting comfortable with a new, scalable, more predictive process, they’ll be able to keep bringing in high-quality candidates even when they’re busy. 

Building a Predictive Hiring Process

So now that I’ve convinced you to revisit your hiring process, what does a predictive hiring process actually look like? We talk about this a lot at Searchlight, and you can read more about this here and here

Here’s some lessons we’ve learned about how to do this effectively:

  • Look at candidates holistically. 89% of mishires are due to a mismatch in soft skills, so hiring needs to look at more than technical skills. I suggest including behavioral data (information about how a person acts and behaves at work) in the hiring process. Our People Scientists break this down into four categories: Competencies (the skills to do their job), Strengths and Gaps (less specific attributes like being detail-oriented, customer-focused or collaborative), Cultural Alignment (will the candidate work well with the organization’s values and practices) and Career Interests (their goals).
  • Start from the beginning. All processes have a domino effect; make sure things don’t start falling from the first chip by ensuring a great Intake or Kickoff process.  
  • No one is perfect. Every organization is different and an ideal candidate for one team or company won’t necessarily be great in another one. Success is all about how a candidate’s strengths complement the organization and how their weaknesses (everyone has them!) can be managed or worked around. Define success criteria to only those that are most predictive.
  • Processes aren’t perfect either; learn from post-hire data. Organizations must actively work to control bias and accuracy. This might mean auditing interviews to ensure they’re not selecting against any demographic group, or comparing the scores candidates get in the hiring process to their performance reviews after they’re hired to see how well they match.
  • Communicate during change management. Doing things differently always creates some resistance. But given the points laid out here, it’s well worth it. Make sure to bring your colleagues along on the journey to a better selection process by explaining how it will help them by saving time, improving morale, and building a better team and business.  

To recap, right now is the best time to invest in hiring processes because TA has the bandwidth to do it, they need good hires in the short term, and the improvements they make now will continue to compound in the future as hiring ramps up. 

If you want to learn more about how Searchlight can help make this easy for you, check out more about our platform here

Kerry Wang

Co-Founder & CEO

Kerry, our CEO and co-founder, merges Org Psychology and Computer Science expertise. Passionate about people, psychology, and tech, she enjoys weekend reading and reality TV.

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