Stop hiring on gut

Human Resource professionals should always be on the lookout for opportunities to add commercial value to their organisations. For far too long, CEO’s, unwilling to get to grips with the face-to-face reality of managing staff issues, have delegated far too much to HR.Gut-Feeling-not-a-Reliable-Applicant-Screening-Systems

In a kind of arms-length exercise they have expected HR to deal with hiring, firing and all the messy bits in between. Thus, HR people are often focused entirely on the internal geography of the organisation.

But modern CEO’s, with brands to deliver, now have a right to demand more. And one major step forward would be the hiring of people who are a natural fit with what the company is trying to do. If your company brand is restless, find restless people. If it is ingenious, look for people whose ingenuity amazes you. Do not try to shoehorn a random Business Degree holder from the University Bangalore into a role that requires very specific personality attributes.

You won’t find such attributes in any CV, and you’d have to be something of a lay psychologist to identify them through interview. That’s why so many wrong candidates are hired on gut instinct.  Gut instinct is what you employ when you have no objective indicators to hand. And despite what may entrepreneurs tell you, using gut instinct in people choices is wrong.

Research shows that cognitive aptitude and personality profile tests are twice as predictive of job performance as interviews, and three times as effective as resumes. So, it’s a relief to discover at least one East African recruitment business using robust testing methods.

By Appointment Africa ( walks the corridors of several of my clients’ offices. They never hire without understanding the working environment and culture of a business. Then they apply international pre-employment tests, as an efficient and objective way to gather data that predicts employee performance. The tests are tailored to specific job descriptions and character requirements.

They tell me this all results in bottom line improvements through increased workforce productivity; and reduced staff turnover and repeat hiring costs. BAA’s Managing Director Vanessa Strong says, “Character synergy in the vetting process is as important as technical skills assessment.’

If you run a small business, you will know this already. The introduction of the wrong personality can disrupt or destroy the culture you are building and it will lose you customers. It’s just the same with big companies. Only you can’t see the damage being done, because it’s happening way below Board level.

We can’t deliver brands without people, so we’d better assemble the right cast of characters.



Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside in Africa


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