​Techniques the World’s Best Companies Use For Hiring Top Talent

Jan 09, 2018

The cost of hiring the wrong person is potentially astronomical.

Not only do you need to consider the direct cost of replacing staff, which can equal up to two years worth of salary, but there are recruitment costs to take into account - advertising, interviewing, onboarding, training.

Then there are indirect costs like loss of productivity and errors.

The bottom line? It’s expensive to replace employees. And it’s especially devastating to lose top talent.

The world’s best companies to work for, understand this. They employ smart techniques to ensure they hire the best people, not only for skill and experience, but also for:

  1. Culture fit
  2. Emotional intelligence
  3. Staying power

They also realise that not only are they as the company interviewing prospective candidates, but that the candidates are also interviewing them.

In this article, we’ll look at who does the interviewing at Google (which receives more than 2 million job applications a year), and what tests the best companies use in their recruitment processes.

Google OfficeImage Credit: Medium

Google is one of the most wanted places to work by top talent.

Interviews at Google

At Google, job candidates are likely to meet their prospective managers as well as a peer, and one or two of the people who would fall under them.

The assessments of the people who would work under them, carry more weight than anyone else’s. This is because Google is not hierarchical, and have found that the best candidates make subordinates feel excited to learn from them, and inspired.

In addition, Google pulls in at least one person with very little or no connection to the interview group, in order to provide a “disinterested” assessment: someone who doesn't care about the actual position, but has a strong interest in keeping the quality of hiring high.

As for your business...watch who does the interviewing, as this will impact the quality of the results.

Let’s move on to the techniques the world’s best companies perform when hiring top talent:

Performance tests

The best predictor of how someone will perform in a job is with a performance test; a sample piece of work of which they could expect to fulfill in the position they’re interviewing for, and then assessing their performance with it.

However, companies can’t rely on this test alone, because actual performance in the real job also depends on other skills, like how well they work with others, communication style, and so on.

General cognitive ability tests

The second-best forecaster of performance are tests of general cognitive ability (brain based abilities to determine how candidates learn, remember, solve problems, and pay attention).

Cognitive Ability PracticeImage Credit: Job Test Prep

Example of a cognitive ability test.

These tests contain defined right and wrong answers, similar to an IQ test. The candidate’s performance in these mental agility tests will tell you how well they’ll be able to apply their mental abilities to solving real work problems, or to attaining new knowledge.

Culture fit tests

What’s the point of recruiting a fully skilled, experienced person if they do not fit the desired company culture?

Take Zappos, the online shoe, clothing, and accessories store, who has a very particular culture and unique set of values.

For example, one of their core values is to “create fun and a little weirdness”, so what’s important to them is to create an open and positive environment to ensure excellent service, and a little weirdness to foster innovation.

Because of this core value, they ask candidates pointed questions around their own core values to make sure there’s a culture fit.

This is how Zappos, one of the Fortune 500 companies, keep their desired culture. But if they were to start employing people just for skill and qualifications, they would begin to lose the kind of culture they strive for.

Behavioural and situational structured tests

Together with the other techniques, general cognitive ability tests are structured interviews, where candidates are asked a consistent set of questions with clear criteria to assess the quality of their responses.

There are two kinds of structured interviews:

  1. Behavioural interviews ask candidates to describe previous achievements and then match them to tasks required in the current job (e.g., “Tell me about a time . . . ?”).
  2. Situational interviews present an hypothetical situation (e.g., “What would you do if . . . ?”).

Many companies avoid this technique because the questions have to be refreshed often and it is hard work to do so.

Research shows that combinations of assessment techniques are better than any single technique.


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