I think we all know the recruitment process — i.e. the hiring process, the process of recruitment, whatever you want to call it — is a mess.

It tends to be rooted in recycled job descriptions, low-context interviews, hair-on-fire hiring managers throwing HR under a train, and various other niceties.

Ultimately, no one really does a post-mortem on the recruitment process because HR owns it, and no one really cares about HR because it doesn’t directly generate revenue. Then a bunch of “thought leaders” take to LinkedIn to write articles about “the rise of People Analytics,” i.e. throwing technology at a program we haven’t been able to get right as humans anyway, namely the recruitment process.

Maybe there’s a quick little “growth hack” on the recruitment process, though.

Adam Grant, Malcolm Gladwell, and the recruitment process

Adam Grant and Malcolm Gladwell must be two of the bigger non-fiction guys out in the publishing world these days, yeah? Grant has a new book with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that is getting tons of pop, and Gladwell is literally the reason liberals can still have dinner parties and find topics other than Trump.

Well, those two big names combined at the Wharton People Analytics — ah-ha, there’s that term! — conference and the results are interesting.

Gladwell argues that we over-focused on speed in the modern recruitment process, noting LSAT tests, child’s games, and other markers. Bosses and hiring managers seem to want people who can get stuff done fast, largely because we all believe we’re so busy.

But the flip side thought is this: Perhaps we should get people who are thorough and high-touch, so that our projects will be bette, no? They might take longer, but the outcome will be better.

That’s who we should hire, right?

Grant semi-disagrees with him, in part arguing that someone can be fast and effective. (They certainly can be, but it’s a rare type of person.) They go back and forth on this. It’s interesting, so if you’re really into these types of discussions, hit that link.

One money quote from the discussion

… would be this:

Gladwell exhorted human resource executives to think deeply about what type of personality they should be looking for in particular jobs or professions. “Analytics are of no value if you don’t have a conversation beforehand about why you want to use a particular analytic,” he said.”

That last sentence there pretty much sums up modern business:

  • “We compete on data! I need metrics!”
  • “These metrics have no context! They don’t explain our value proposition!”
  • “Time to discuss define and metrics? Of course not Gary, I have a 2:15 with Japan, and then golf at the club!”

Say it loud and say it proud: analytics are meaningless without context and background.

Here’s what can we do about the recruitment process 

Here you go:

  • Define why you need specific roles;
  • Ask the hiring manager to explain what type of person he or she needs in that role (and, the default answer can’t be, “Someone who hits the ground running and gets shit done”);
  • Update the job description to reflect the type of person you need;
  • Put out feelers and referrals;
  • Utilize your existing employees;
  • Conduct interviews with legit, structured questions;
  • Talk to candidates about problems that arose on the job, and have them work through the problems;
  • Have a committee — not just the hiring manager — of people who will work with this person discuss and make the decision;
  • Bring them in with a legitimate, focused on-boarding program; and,
  • Make sure to follow up — and focus on people.

You’ve heard this before, but it’s not rocket science. We mostly let workplace politics, psychology, people not knowing what they want, The Temple of Busy, and much more, get in the way.

That totally tanks the recruitment process and the result is that you get lousy people.

Meanwhile, you’re probably over there tracking some time to hire metric breathlessly in an Excel folder even though it barely matters to anything your company actually does.

See how the recruitment process gets a little messed up, and how it could be a whole lot better?

Ted Bauer

Originally from New York City, Ted Bauer currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's a writer and editor for RecruitingDaily who focuses on leadership, management, HR, recruiting, marketing, and the future of work. His popular blog, The Context of Things, has a simple premise -- how to improve work. Ted has a Bachelors in Psychology from Georgetown and a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. In addition to various blogging and ghost-writing gigs, he's also worked for brands such as McKesson, PBS, ESPN, and more. You can follow Ted on Twitter @tedbauer2003, connect with him on LinkedIn, or reach him on email at [email protected]