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Data Lost in Data Driven Recruiting


Talent recruitment remains one of HR’s most important roles in any organization, because – let’s face it – an organization is its people. There’s nothing more costly than a poor hire, from the moment he is hired until the moment the inevitable separation occurs. Effectively recruiting the best people available in a timely manner is critical for the growth and sustainability of the organization. More efficient and accurate methods of recruitment are always being sought by HR professionals.

Data driven recruiting is one such method. Some data driven hiring practices are controversial; the use of instruments like the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator or the DISC Behavior analysis attracts great debate. I’m not particularly interested in the debate for this blog post, however. I am interested in the over-reliance on data or metric driven hiring practices.

Being as informed as possible about the job applicant / candidate is essential to making the best hiring decision. However, relying on the “data” alone may not be the best practice. It’s almost as if the art of interviewing has died. I’m particularly sad about this as I personally enjoy interviewing … both sides of the interview, actually. I quite like conversation, and after all, a really good interview is just that: a conversation.

I believe the conversation provides opportunity that measurable methods cannot. We have about one hundred million functioning neurons in our intestine – we literally have a “gut brain” that we “think” with. We all know that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach when something is not right … or the “butterflies” in our stomach when we’re excited or anticipating something delightful or euphoric! That’s our hidden brain, sometime called our second brain in our gut. The conversation we have in the interview process allows both our cognitive and gut brains to engage. If we listen to both, we have all the data we need.

Mind you, I’m not completely against testing in interviews. If there are specific skills required for the job that a test can demonstrate, then that test should be used. Test for math skills with a math test or customer service skills with a mock customer complaint role play – but if you really want to get to know your next hire, fully engage in conversation with them.

I think we’ve grown so emotionally weak or fearful as a society that we’re afraid to talk with one another. We’re paralyzed with the idea that we might say something offensive and either scare off a good candidate or worse, get sued by a bad one.

We are taught to think and make decisions cognitively. Reason and logic are the methods we rely on for making important decisions. While I’m not arguing against reason and logic, I am making a plea for not neglecting our other brain. As HR professionals or recruiters, we are often asked our opinions about a hire, and many times we have a gut feeling that does not correlate with the data from our screenings, pre-employment assessments and instruments or any objective interview tools we employ – the gut feeling that tells us, “this isn’t the right person for the job,” or worse, “there’s something really wrong here… it’s not adding up.”

All too often, though, we bury that intelligence originating from our gut brain. We tell ourselves that since we cannot prove or measure what we are “feeling,” there’s no viable way to share it or make a decision relying on the gut. More so, we fear that if our gut decision disagrees with the data that is available – the data based on reason and logic – we’ll be laughed at, disagreed with and possibly even rejected in this and every future hiring process to come, effectively eroding any trust and reliability in ourselves and our profession.

I believe we must get over this fear and educate hiring managers and executives that another data point to include is that of our gut brain. Everyone has it, and as we educate them and ask them to get in touch with their own gut brain, a sense of collective gut thoughts and intuition will enter the hiring process. We won’t report back to a candidate that they were not right for the job because “we had a gut feeling you’d be wrong for this job,” but rather we’d allow ourselves, at minimum, to listen to our gut and truly consider what it tells us in decision making processes –  further enhancing the available data on which to make great hiring decisions.

Bill Berthel is a certified professional coach and strategic human resources consultant.  His past experience includes serving as an HR Manager at Golden Artist Colors. Bill holds a BS in Psychology with a minor in HR Management.  Read more about our HR Strategic Partnering Solutions.

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