How To Measure The Quality Of Your Applicants (Before You Hire Them)

Managers are continually asking for a higher quality of candidate, while recruiters tend to focus on the cost or the speed of the hire. The quality of the applicant is clearly the superior factor. There are many ways to measure the quality of the applicants (before you hire them). Some of them include:

  • They get at least one counter offer. If they are any good (unless they work for government or a not-for-profit) their current boss will give them at least one counter offer to match yours. The very top get two.
  • They are currently employed. In low unemployment times, if they are not currently working, odds are they are not top talent.
  • They have 3 offers from top firms. In high employment times, if they are active job seekers, the very best have multiple job offers and at least one will be from a top firm. If yours have only one offer (yours) they are not top talent (unless you live in a single employer area).
  • Your top performers know them. If they are any good, your top people know them. Top performers are a hard secret to keep.
  • Executive search professionals know them. Professionals you work with have them in their database.
  • They were hard to convince. Because the best are in demand, they are hard to “sell.” If they don’t have high expectations and they settle easily, something is wrong (or you did great market research).
  • They fit your competency profile. They have at least 110% of the competencies that your specs cover. They have skills and experiences that are not in your minimum requirements.
  • They are gone quickly. The best are taken rapidly. If you are slow to make a decision and they are still around after 10 days, they are not top talent (or you are the employer of choice for the region).
  • Awards. Top performers are publicly recognized in their firms. They might also be highly rewarded in monetary terms also (a >10% raise or a >20% bonus).
  • Manager satisfaction. If you survey your hiring managers on their satisfaction with the quality of the applicants they receive, you can get an idea of their assessment of the quality.
  • This year’s vs. last. Select a random number of applicant’s resumes from this year and last (in the same job). Mix them up and have an expert anonymously select the top and bottom 20%. See whether this year’s applicants are better represented in the top category.
  • The source. If they were referred by a current top performer odds are that they are also. Referrals consistently rate as the highest quality applicants.

Don’t Be FooledTraditional measures of quality might be misleading. Be careful of:

  • Resume quality. Top performers seldom have great or even current resumes. People that are on the job market a long time have time to polish and improve their resumes. Beware many people don’t even write their own resume!
  • Schools attended. Top performers come from many schools. The best usually do excel at what ever school they went to. Don’t assume; check to see where your firm’s top performers actually went.
  • Grades. In a diverse world where many students are older or have to work, overall grades might not predict much. Grades in their major might show more. See if your current top performers had great grades first.
  • Number of years of experience. In a rapidly changing world information and technology change rapidly so “experience” in a dated technology might mean little.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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