How this simple scorecard can significantly improve your recruitment decisions

Have the hiring decisions you’ve made this year been a success? How do you know?

You might do a three-month review with a new employee or an annual performance appraisal, and be happy with the results.

But despite NFPs investing up to 70 percent of their operating budgets on their people, according to organisational development consultant Ben Dattner, few organisations measure the success of hiring managers in their decisions about who’s the right person to hire.

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Dattner suggests that using a scorecard system – rating candidates at the interview stage and then again at later intervals after they’re hired – can help interviewers to improve their skills over time, as well as helping to prevent unconscious biases, emotions and stereotypes from creeping into recruitment decisions.

The role of bias in hiring

No recruitment process can be 100 percent objective – when people are involved, biases based on unconscious beliefs or associations can always creep in.

There are some easy things to do to reduce the impact of such biases on your interview process. One of the easiest things to do is to use “structured” interview questions – that is, to make sure that all candidates answer the same set of questions, and are assessed on their answers.

Ironically, some human biases affect a person’s ability to see how biased they actually are. And that can mean recruitment staff are more likely to take responsibility for fruitful hires, while only selectively recalling their doubts about the decision to hire someone who turned out to be unsuccessful.

So what can you do about this?

A simple solution

Dattner’s scorecard approach aims to improve an interviewer’s long-term rate of success by minimising this bias.

How? It asks recruiters or hiring managers to rate a candidate’s qualifications and suitability at the time they are offered the job, and then compare these ratings and perceptions against the new staff member’s actual performance in the job.

This can not only improve an interviewer’s “hit rate” for successful hires over time, it can also give them an opportunity to recognise and correct their biases.

How to create and use a scorecard

First, determine five or so criteria you wish to assess in candidate interviews and write them down – for example, technical ability, leadership skills, ability to work well in a team or presentation skills.

Then draw up a table that includes a column for the rating on these criteria at the time of interview, as well as columns for the post-hire rating (say at 3, 6 or 12 months), the gap in rating, and any lessons learned. (Download Dattner’s easy-to-use template here).

After the final candidate interview, ask the interviewers to independently complete the first column. Then, ask them to re-evaluate the new staff member at regular intervals by completing the subsequent columns.

Revisiting the scorecard in this way over time can validate or invalidate their initial impressions of the new staff member. For example, they might find they’re much better at judging leadership skills through an interview than at assessing a candidate’s ability to work well in a team.

Hiring managers or recruiters can also compare their scorecards for a candidate with each other to improve their understanding of their own and their colleagues’ individual and collective accuracy in interviews.

The real value of using a recruitment scorecard in this way is that it can provide the feedback to create a truly learning organisation, where the individuals and the organisation as a whole are always reflecting, learning and improving the decisions they make.

Would you try the scorecard system in your organisation? Have you already tried it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: Maik Meid/Flickr

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