Have You Been Audited Lately?

Most people choke when they think about audits, but this time I’m not talking about the taxman. I’m talking about auditing your hiring system. There is plenty of good advice on ERE about where and how to find people to stock your recruiting funnel, but there is a dearth of information about measuring the legal and operational effectiveness of your hiring tools. It may be hard to imagine, but getting people lined-up at the front door is only the first step. Have you ever heard a manager say, “Rudolph, I don’t care about the quality of people we hire, just find me plenty of applicants so I can spend as much time as necessary to interview them all?” I didn’t think so. Hiring effectiveness is today’s topic. Auditing your hiring system consists of a thorough evaluation of what’s working, what’s not working, and your potential for legal challenge. If you are not infected by the U.S. epidemic of lawsuit fever (medical term: mea sueus everybodyus), you “only” need to worry about inconsistent people skills. If you find it hard to imagine the benefit of good hiring practices, start by visualizing all the people who work in your organization. Now focus on the high performers (you know them–they are the nice people who are very smart and work very hard). Now imagine what it would be like to have a company where this was the norm. Pretty nice, huh? That’s what a good hiring system will do for you. But, back to the audit. When I audit an organization, I separate the hiring process into several steps: job specifications, recruiting practices, hiring tools, training, skills of people involved in the process, decision-making, documentation, and legality. But everything starts with job specifications. Job Specifications Developing a good set of job specifications is a prerequisite for everything. These should be complete, competency based, and up to date. They should be based on how the job is done, not what is done. This is a subtle, but very important distinction that is missed by a majority of people. Recruiting Practices This is not the mechanical act of finding people. It is the specifications listed on the job requisition. For example, if the req specifies that degrees are “required,” are they really necessary? If special skills are prerequisite, can they be learned on the job? Does the sourcing venue affect the demographics of candidates? Are the specifications too “tight” or too “loose”? Hiring Tools These are the tools used to measure applicant skills. Are the hiring tools related to the job? Do they actually predict performance or are they just someone’s “good” idea. Do the scores actually relate to job performance? Are important areas being overlooked, or is the same area being measured more than twice? Were the tools designed for selection or for training? Do they have adverse impact on protected groups (i.e., the 80% rule)? How is this tracked? What alternatives are available? Are the tools based on both business need and job necessity? <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Training Have the people who use the hiring system been trained in good selection practices? What did the training cover? Are the users consistent and thorough? Are illegal or irrelevant questions being used? Are good test procedures followed? Skills of the People Using the Process Yes, I know this may come as a shock, but not everyone is good at assessing skills. Do your people rely more on intuition than they do on facts? Do they bring personal bias to the decision-making process? Do they pretend they are amateur psychologists? Do they ask questions like, “What color is your favorite rooster, and why?” Decision-Making What kind of information is brought to the decision-making table? How are decisions made? What data has more weight and why? Do decision-makers have all the data they need to make an accurate decision? Do some people make their final decision by sacrificing a chicken and studying the entrails? Are critical areas being overlooked that might affect the quality of the decision? Documentation Is the hiring process based on business need and job necessity? Is each hiring tool backed with documentation that identifies its relevance and validity? Legality (i.e., mea sueus everybodyus) Do any of the steps unnecessarily expose the organization to legal action? Are the critical steps outlined by the EEOC Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures being followed? Is there evidence of adverse impact, and if so, is there a search for alternative methods? Conclusion Hiring is not for the meek or weak of heart. There are many areas where hiring goes wrong. Most of them can be fixed or minimized with a little work. From one perspective, no organization has ever been forced to hire unqualified people, they’ve only been asked to show that the methods used are required for job performance. That brings us to the most critical step: people involved in the hiring process. HR is often thought of as a place where people can “get started” in their career and recruiting is often seen as a way to “break into” the profession. Have you ever really thought about what this means? Putting inexperienced (but well-intentioned) folks in charge of the most critical function in an organization: staffing human capital? Hiring is not an area where you want to take chances or use anything except best practices. Poor quality control is unacceptable in production, and it should be the same in HR.

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