RecruitCon 2019 Keynote Offers Tips to Avoid Making Bad Hires

Every HR professional and recruiter knows the cost of a bad hire. Time and money spent on the hiring and training go down the tube and now you are left with nothing but that same vacancy. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could avoid making bad hires in the first place?


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In a recent episode of HR Works Podcast, Jeff Hyman joined HR Daily Advisor Editor, Jim Davis, to discuss ways to avoid bad hires. Hyman is the Chief Talent Officer at Recruit Rockstars, an organization with a simple mission: no more bad hires!
Hyman is author of the bestselling book Recruit Rockstars: The 10 Step Playbook to Find The Winners & Ignite Your Business. As Professor at Kellogg School of Management, he teaches an MBA course about recruiting. He is also the host of the 5-star-rated Strong Suit Podcast and weekly contributor to Forbes.
Jeff Hyman is the keynote speaker at RecruitCon 2019. Join Hyman for the opening keynote: The 10 Deadly Sins of Recruiting, which takes place May 8-10, 2019, in Austin, Texas. RecruitCon features workshops on May 8 , while the main conference will be held on May 9 and 10. Click here to learn more, or to register today!
Jim Davis: Hello, everyone, and welcome to HR Works, the podcast for HR professionals. I’m the host of HR Works—Jim Davis—and the Editor of the HR Daily Advisor.
Jeff Hyman: I’m thrilled to be here, Jim. How are you?
Davis: I’m doing great, thank you. Let’s jump in. How did you get started in the talent field?
Hyman: I stumbled into it. I wish I could tell you it was part of some master plan, but I’d be lying to you, as I think a lot of people do fall into it. I started my first company when I was about 25, and it was in the Internet category.
I quickly learned that without the right people, this was going to be a pretty short ride. I just became enamored by it. I became fascinated by the complexity and the impact it can make to have a team of A-players throughout the business. And so, I decided to make that my life’s calling, and in 25 years, that’s pretty much all I’ve done.
Davis: What is it about it that fascinates you so much?
Hyman: Probably that it’s kind of art and part science, right? You can’t reduce it to a spreadsheet, which was never my forte if you look at my grades in finance and accounting. But there’s definitely best practices, and you definitely can improve over time. It’s part psychology. It’s part therapist. It’s part detective. It’s part consultant. It’s part giving some tough love. It’s part persistence.
It has just so many characteristics to it, and it’s changing so fast that I find it a fascinating field from all dimensions—recruiting, retention, compensation, and design. It really comes down to how you amass a team that is better than your competitor’s team. And so many companies are so bad at it that just by doing a few things well, you can actually set yourself apart.
Davis: What the biggest mistake is that you see HR executives and hiring managers make?
Hyman: Probably one of the biggest, or the first, that comes to mind is because many executives and HR folks have not studied the science—and I mean the boring science; I’ve read all these studies over the years—as to what really predicts a candidate’s or individual’s success at your company.
Most people rely on absolutely the wrong predictors. They’re looking at the candidate’s job title or what industry he or she worked in or what school he or she went to or what the person’s GPA was.
All these things that science has shown are relatively useless predictors of how the person’s going to do at your company in a specific role, in a specific situation. However, if you focus on the right predictors, which I’m happy to share because there’s nothing proprietary about it, you can increase your success rate and your accuracy rate dramatically—like, you could be double.
The impact that can make on a business is huge. And so, one of the big mistakes, and thus one of the simplest ways to improve, is by focusing on things that are actually predictive of success as opposed to getting thrown off the scent by these seemingly important but pretty meaningless things.
Davis: Why don’t we just get right into that? What are those predictors?
Hyman: Well, I’ll tell you what they’re not. So what they’re not are as some people take comfort in looking at a résumé, and they will assume, “Hey, this individual went to ‘so and so’ school,” a top three school or a top five, so “they must be intelligent. They must be competent.”
The truth is that that person probably is intelligent or certainly has above-average intelligence, but it doesn’t mean that he or she is right for your specific position. So, it’s very dangerous to rely on that, just as Google has stopped looking at GPA because it went back and found that it wasn’t a very good predictor.
Another example would be someone’s title, right? Titles vary so much from company to company that unless you really drill into the detail of what the person has been doing in that role, and I mean detail like on a day-to-day basis, I can’t assume that a director of sales at your company is the same as the director of sales at this company. So there’s many of those examples, countless examples.
What is highly predictive, as an example, is what I would call DNA. There’s a chapter about DNA in my book, which is how someone is hardwired at a very young age, by the way. Psychologists tell us that by age 8, we are the person who we’re going to become, right? Whether we’re extroverted or detail-oriented or musical, analytical, creative, funny, or whatever it may be—that is an amazing predictor of how the person’s going to perform on the job because it’s hardwired, right? You can’t teach it, you can’t coach it, and you can’t train it.
So, if I’m hiring you for a job that requires an immense amount of detail and attention to detail, and that’s just not in your DNA, you’re a big-picture thinker, and you hate the detail, you could fake it for a while, but pretty soon, we’re going to be having tough discussions, and that’s the beginning of the end.
But if I knew that up front and I knew, “Hey, his or her DNA is just not detail orientation, not a good fit for this role”—that’s just one example, and there’s many others, but those things can help you accurately predict someone’s performance.
DNA is one of the first things I look at, especially these days, when the job itself changes so fast, so often, but DNA is very consistent, and that shows you what someone is made of.
Davis: Well, let’s talk about that. I mean, I think pretty much all HR managers are aware that things are changing rapidly around them but maybe not exactly how; how has it changed? How has recruiting changed over the past few years?
Hyman: In many ways. It used to be when I began in this field 20 some odd years ago, that the hard part was finding candidates. Literally, we’re looking to make a hire; finding candidates is the hard part of the search. Now, whether you are internal, external in HR, or a recruiter, it does matter—finding candidates is the simplest part of the search, right?
If you or a client gives me a spec, and we agree on what we’re looking for, within 24 hours, I already know the 3 or 500 people who are going to be at the top of the funnel that’s going to lead to one rock star coming out the bottom, right?
So thanks to LinkedIn and Google, and infinite other candidate identification tools, the entire recruiting process has changed. The hard part now is the assessment part, right?
That’s the tricky part because their résumé doesn’t show you. A LinkedIn profile doesn’t show you. I haven’t seen any artificial intelligence that shows you in any meaningful way. And so, knowing how to go about that process is the hard part. So that has changed dramatically.
It’s actually become worse because now, the candidates can click on “apply” so easily. You post a job, and you’ll have 500 applicants in 5 minutes, but maybe 2 of them are worth talking to. So, we’re kind of drinking from the fire hose of candidates in many cases. That’s a big way that the job market has changed.
The other, of course, as you know, is that we’re in the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. And so, whereas the employer used to be the buyer, the candidate is now the buyer. That changes everything about how you need to recruit and attract candidates, set up a process by which they’ll even engage with you, what you talk about with them, how you interview them, and how you follow up with them. All of that changes when you were in a 3.7% unemployment rate.
Davis: Those are great answers. I’ve hired people before, and I know exactly what you’re talking about with having to sift through. People will just apply knowing darn well that they’re not a good fit or that they don’t have any experience in the field that you’re talking about. So yeah, sorting through all of those is a real challenge. I can’t even imagine what the big companies have to go through.
Hyman: If you’re a Google or an Amazon, a top 10 company, then life is good, right? You have hundreds of thousands, millions of people who want to come work for you. You have a different set of problems, right? Which is, how do you find the needles in those haystacks? But even once you do, you still got to make sure that they’re right for that role, in that situation, with that manager, etc.
We’ll continue the conversation with Jeff Hyman in part two of this article series, stay tuned! Listen to the full episode, here.

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