Trust in Hiring
- Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
- Monday, February 5, 2024
Whether you are starting a romantic relationship, hiring a contractor to put a roof on your house, or recruiting new candidates to work on your sales team, trust is a huge part of our daily lives, but it doesn't have to be blind (at least on the hiring side).
I recently hired someone to replace the large spring that helps my garage door go up and down. A few months prior, my neighbor's spring broke and it sent razor-sharp strips of metal into the door. I asked him which contractor he hired to fix it.
This is a classic situation when hiring contractors. You get a personal referral from someone you trust and make a phone call. I had no idea if the contractor was qualified or experienced in replacing garage door springs, all I knew was that my neighbor trusted them — so I trusted them.
(The contractor did a fantastic job, by the way.)
How many of us have had romantic relationships that started with an introduction from a friend, co-worker, or family member?
We make a phone call and say, "Hi, Joanne. This is Steve. My friend, Tony, who's dating your best friend, Sarah, gave me your number..." (That's actually how I met my wife.)
I trusted Tony when he said Joanne was super nice and very cute. (Tony was right, by the way.)
Hiring relies a great deal on trust as well — but maybe it shouldn't; read on to find out why.
It's been claimed for many years that over 80% of job openings are never advertised. Many positions are filled by an existing employee recommending someone they know for an open position before it's listed.
Like dating, it's common for individuals to be "set up" with a new position through someone they know. Many companies go so far as to give existing employees a bonus or gift when they refer a winning job candidate for unadvertised positions.
"We hired Angela mostly because she was so highly recommended by Anita in Accounting. Unfortunately, Angela's performance turned out to be a disappointment. We probably should have checked her references first."
"Doveryay, no proveryay" (trust, but verify)
When it comes to dating, hiring a contractor, or filling an open position at your company, there's a time and place for trust, and a time and place to verify.
Trusting someone's referral of a partner, roofer, or new administrative assistant at your company is great for introductions. But how much weight should you put into the value of that referral?
If someone says, "I had a Ford Pinto back in the late 70's and it was the most reliable and cool car I've ever owned," how much weight do you want to put into that one recommendation (no matter how glowing it may be)?
Anyone who's taken a basic statistics course is familiar with the concept of sample size. Would you predict the winner of the next national election by conducting a poll of only one person's opinion? No. You'd want that poll to ask as many people as possible (thousands).
Personal referrals are like polls with only one person surveyed.
A personal referral makes a good introduction, but it's not the final answer by a long shot.
My neighbor had a great experience with his garage door contractor, but that's just one data point to indicate the contractor was worth hiring. I should have looked to see how long he'd been in business, if he's licensed and bonded, and maybe asked for a few other customer references. I should have increased the sample size of my data before making a decision rather than trusting the word of one individual.
On the other hand, when Tony introduced me to Joanne, that's all it was — an introduction. We met on neutral terms, had a few conversations and hung out a bit, all before going on our first real date. We let the evidence of personal experience and our emotional reactions provide the data we needed before taking things to the next level.
Getting a referral from an employee when trying to fill an open position should be no more valuable than someone saying, "You should go to erep.com/jobs/ and look for employment listings there." It's a connection, an introduction, but just because someone made a personal (and biased) recommendation doesn't mean that employment connection is "sold."
It's safe to rely on your team members to spread the word and help make connections between your hiring manager and any possible candidates out there, but you need more data before making a hiring decision.
What kind of data can you trust when hiring?
The candidate's resume should be viewed as a sales brochure, produced from a single and biased perspective, that contains a list of hopefully factual data about their career's history. Your goal is to determine if this individual is a safe and reliable investment of your time and money and their resume is just one data point in that investigation. In essence, you want to trust the answer to the question: "Will this candidate be a great employee?"
The candidate should be asking a similar question, "Will this employer be a great place to work?" (Hiring is a two-way relationship, so why don't employers give their resume to candidates?)
The discerning and smart employer seeks trustworthy answers to the question, "Does this candidate have the psychometric profile most appropriate for the needs of the role?"
Are you risking the big mistake of hiring an analytical person for a creative position or vice versa? Just because someone tells you — via their resume or in an interview — that they are highly creative, can you trust their understandably biased answer?
Even someone's past career history along a particular track may not be a trustworthy predictor of future success. There are many people who have found themselves stuck doing the same kind of job even though it's not in their innate and unchanging nature to excel in that role.
Some people achieve a certain amount of success in a particular type of job, but it's been a needless struggle the entire time.
Nobody wants to work in a job that is misaligned with how they are hardwired. The employee doesn't benefit nor does the employer. Hard work and tenacity only goes so far. Those who are naturally hardwired for a role can not only accomplish more, but they can do it with joy and have capacity for even greater things. (They also outperform their misaligned peers by 200% or more.)
Trust is important, but it's important to know what information is trustworthy.
Top tip: Look for data about the candidate that can't be faked or skewed to suit a particular bias.
When hiring, let personal referrals serve as a way to gain exposure to a broader pool of potential candidates, nothing more. (Think of it as a free ad on a local job board.)
Trust accurate and reliable data like the Core Values Index™ psychometric assessment to evaluate the innate and unchanging psychological nature of candidates, and compare that to the psychometric needs of the role using a Top Performer Profile™.
Above all, stop trusting your gut when making hiring decisions. That's only good for determining if the day-old sushi you ate for lunch was worth the discounted price.
Core Values Index™ and CVI™ are trademarks of Taylor Protocols, Inc.
Go to eRep.com/core-values-index/ to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (ruckerworks.com), and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.
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