Principles of Selecting Talent – Part 1

21 Jan 2021

We have identified four key values which can be attributed to a premium recruitment process. If you can guarantee that your hiring process is efficient, accurate, unbiased, and data-driven you will be able to select the best talent available to you on a sustained basis. Below we outline our thoughts on efficiency and accuracy and why these principles are so important and how it ensures you acquire top talent.

We will continue our discussion on the next principles, unbiased and data-driven, in our next insights piece in February.



Of all the activities pursued by businesses today hiring is a trend setter in how it is actually becoming less efficient as time passes. According to a report conducted by Glassdoor the average length of hiring processes has increased from 12.6 days to 22.9 days in the United States.(1) In other countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom, the trend is similar. When this fact is allied with the findings of research carried out by Lever, a HR tech provider, an even more alarming picture is painted. They found that successful candidates go through an average of 4 interviews on their way to being hired, spending an average of 3 hours and 44 minutes in the interview chair in total. At the end of all this, according to lever, only 1% of candidates who apply for roles are successful.(2)

It is clear that these numbers are not acceptable, both from an employer’s and a candidate’s perspective. Your organization simply cannot afford to pour the kind of time into a hiring process which revolves around interviews, only to find the 1% of candidates who may be a fit. Similarly, a candidate journey that takes almost four hours and involves numerous interviews is a poor one. If you want to be an attractive organization for top talent, and save resources which are inefficiently expended on the hiring process the traditional process of resume review plus interview must be disrupted. A more timely method of establishing competency, fit, and potential for growth is needed.

The best way to quickly and easily identify excellent talent is through the use of comprehensive candidate assessments. Utilizing tests which can present you with a holistic view of a candidate with a minimal expenditure of your time, perhaps before you even speak to the candidate, is much more advantageous than pursuing a lengthy series of interviews. Candidates will also appreciate this direct approach if they understand that the hiring process consists of a set number of tests rather than a nebulous number of interviews. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review only 40% of employers use tests of skills or general abilities.(3) Using candidate assessments will, then, place you amongst a minority of effective organizations who can guarantee their candidates a smooth and transparent hiring process, marking you out as an organization of choice for premium hires.

(1) Why is Hiring taking Longer?, Glassdoor
(2) ‘11 Must-See Recruitment Research Findings And What They Mean For You’
(3) ‘Your Approach to Hiring is All Wrong’, The Harvard Business Review


Further research published in the Harvard Business Review indicates that the root cause of hiring is poor levels of employee retention. To guarantee long-term retention, candidates must fit almost perfectly so that discrepancies between a candidate’s behaviour and attitudes and an organization’s culture do not appear in the short, medium, or long term. Also, research carried out by McKinsey indicates that intrinsic traits – such as personality or motivations – can account for 5-20 percent of variance in performance.(4) It is imperative then that a candidate’s personality fits within an organization.

At the moment, interviews are the number one method of assessing cultural fit, according to the Rockefeller Institute. It is thought that hiring managers will instinctively know whether or not a candidate will fit in their team after an hour’s discussion. The hiring manager may even arrange interviews directly with their team members to gauge whether or not the candidate could work effectively with them. We have already established that this is an inefficient exercise given the time it requires to find the right candidate. It also, problematically, relies on the presumption that hiring managers can assess an individual’s personality traits and measure them against their understanding of their organization’s culture through a discussion. While some personable and perspicacious hiring managers may be able to do this, it is unlikely that each and every hiring manager will be able to assess an applicant accurately.

The question of how to implement an accurate hiring process is a difficult one. More detailed interviews with more team members could be arranged in order to overcome the gaps in some people’s perceptions for fit. However, we have established that that is an unconscionable expenditure of time and effort. The key is the utilization of personality assessments. Such tests can present a clear picture of a candidate’s personality in 30 minutes. Organization’s can then use this data to assess candidates against personality-based benchmarks which they establish for the role they are hiring for. This is clearly a more desirable outcome, using quantitative information, rather than gut instinct, to assess fit, making a hiring process an accurate one.


Click here to see all of our past articles and our exploration of hiring principles will continue next month!

Contact us at [email protected] for any business or advice inquiries.


(4) ‘Hiring from unlikely sources as your talent pool shrinks’, McKinsey & Company
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