Quality: You Can’t Discuss the ‘How’ if You Don’t Agree on the ‘What’

Of all the metrics recruiters and employers debate, “quality” is at the heart of every conversation.

Many recruiters and employers accept that measures of recruiting success will in some form be linked to either cost, time, or quality. Whether digging into a hiring manager’s satisfaction or a client’s perception of how well the recruiting function has performed, these three elements are always underscored.

Debates over cost and time however tend to be over how they are calculated and how relevant they are. People agree on what should be measured.

By contrast, whenever the subject of quality enters into the mix, and even though no one ever seems to question its importance, just try and any get any two people to agree on what should be measured. You’ll find a dozen competing answers.

No standard definition exists for measuring a quality hire or even consistently tackling how to come up with an approach you can take home to operationally define an internal definition. There is certainly no lack of opinion, and just no common agreement that is testable … yet.

At ERE in Atlanta this October, let’s take a crack at it with a panel I’m moderating with five staffing leaders … all current or former practitioners whose (partial) list of employers — where they have held recruiting leadership positions include (in alphabetical order): ADP, Avanade, Deloitte, BASF, Bausch & Lomb, GE, Hitachi, Hilton, IFF, Invitrogen, J&J, McKesson, Microsoft, PWC, and RIM.

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I have the easy job of asking the questions. Add to that the value-add of dozens more practitioners in the room whose passion for this subject equals those on the panel and perhaps we can put more of a stake in this elusive metric. Who knows: maybe the International Standards Organization is next.

If you can’t be there in person, what questions would you ask? What answer have you sought? What measure have you successfully tested?

Even better, be there and ask for yourself.

Gerry Crispin, is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and thought leader. He seeks to understand how firms design and build staffing processes, the technology to enhance them and the systems to manage them. He is also committed to writing, researching, and sharing his adventures, opinions and observations about evolving staffing models with the HR profession, clients and friends. He and his partner, Mark Mehler, created CareerXroads® and the CareerXroads Colloquium with one goal in mind: critically analyzing corporate recruiting issues from a tactical yet strategic perspective. Learn more at CareerXroads


14 Comments on “Quality: You Can’t Discuss the ‘How’ if You Don’t Agree on the ‘What’

  1. Gerry – Looking forward to this discussion and hoping our profession can drive this as a priority agenda going forward given the outcomes from the State of Talent Acquisition Survey in April from 2,400+ leaders and professionals, 46% said they don’t track Quality of Hire in anyway shape of form….Interesting, especially when people also stated this is a major priority for business executives.

    1. I agree with your focus on this as a priority. It is hard to imagine any profession- say engineering in which the “quality” of how something that is designed, built and executed on is not eventually measured by the quality of the outcome. Recruiting is one of the few jobs that emphasizes technique, technology, and strategy for putting bodies in seats without ever holding itself accountable for the outcome of how that body performed, learned, stayed, managed or whatever was required for downstream success. It would be hard to prove that recruiting is a profession (versus a function, craft or an art form) without it. Or that those practicing it without a clear measure of quality are not professionals- merely technicians. Does your data show whether the 54% who do measure “quality” do so, in fact, with an independent business aligned measure or is merely a dependent Likert scale ‘satisfaction’ score with the ‘quality’ as determined by the hiring manager (let’s see, I hired the person and am going to bitch that the quality was bad…not happening). #implicitbias.

      1. Gerry – I did not ask the question on the “how” it is being measured as I still think we need to get people on the same page with the “why”…..which is still an issue as you know. What I have found with experience though is even the ones that say they measure quality all they are doing is asking in a Hiring Manager survey, “are you satisfied with the quality of your new hire”. Not what I would consider the most proven quality data point IMHO.

        1. lol. The folks who can’t figure out ‘why’ quality is important won’t be at ERE. They don’t attend conferences and have no critical thinking skills to speak of. I only meet them through references that candidates and employees make about their recruiters or HR folks. I also see a lot of ‘why’ questions on SHRM boards. I’ve no patience for folks who think the quality of their work is not important. If their definition of the quality they strive for is different than mine, that is another story and then we can talk about the different ‘pages’ we’re on…and there may be more than one ‘right’ page.

          1. Don’t shoot the messenger 🙂
            When I see the business continually say this is their top priority = Quality, but I do not see us as a profession making it the No.1 priority, it makes me frustrated and sad. I know the old saying is “Speed, Cost and Quality, pick any two”…..I say that old worn out phrase should be “Speed, Cost and Quality with Quality being the priority focus every time”. If you build for Quality then cost and speed become less relevant for the many reason we should all know by now !

          2. ha. 🙁 (Also sad but no frustration because I ignore it). Not shooting messenger, just opining that the audience we will have at ERE will have accepted that “why” is important (which we can check) and then move on to tackle their needs to deal with what and how challenges within the hour constraints

  2. Gerry, once again you are taking on the big challenge. To effectively measure quality, it
    presupposes that the organization has some standards around how to measure
    workplace success. In other words, if I
    asked a supervisor, “If I came to you in six months and asked if I was doing a
    good job,” they would be able to articulate what and how I would be
    measured. In my experience, not all
    organizations have those types of performance standards. It should be a very interesting discussion.

    1. I am taking on a challenge but its the challenge of having a useful conversation, not necessarily driving a stake in the ground. My advantage is the quality of the panel. They can each hold their own in a keynote on the subject and speaking from each of their perspectives as practitioners and leaders they get that success is something they are always working. It will be an interesting discussion and those looking or believing their is a standard answer will be disappointed. The process discipline leaders have developed to approach the problem of defining quality in the context of their firm is the real standard.

  3. First question from the audience, a 2 parter:

    Regarding the Quality of Hire Metric…

    1) Who owns that metric, Recruiting or the Business Line?
    2) Who should own it?

    Accountability only follows ownership.

    1. Excellent. Are you suggesting I seed the audience or, will you be there to raise your hand Sean?
      Silos within HR and Staffing as well as the business itself have often prevented ‘agreement’ on the metric and a sequence of accountability (shared ownership) for first- identifying, second-selecting and third- managing Quality. We’re all responsible and most recruiters and even recruiting leaders cannot accept even partial accountability for sustaining/defending quality after their handoff.

  4. It’s one thing to talk about the what, but it’s another thing to drill down even deeper into each facet of these supposed metrics. Is each metric identified as a potential proxy for QoH valid or even reliable? (Because, as is taught in Psychometrics 101, Reliability is a prerequisite for Validity.) Can an organization consistently get to those data time and again? So dig deeper into the metrics:

    Time to Hire? Is an Org’s Time to Hire reliably tracked? Do some groups monkey with the process so that applicants statuses aren’t changed until the last minute? Is time to hire measured from Offer Accepted or Req Closed? Is Time to Hire even a GOOD QoH? (Spoiler: It’s not.)

    Some use New Hire Turnover as proxies for QoH. Do you dig deeper into the types of attrition for this turnover? Is the turnover voluntary or involuntary? Even deeper, is the turnover regrettable/non-regrettable? Are performance data even available to factor in regrettable/non-regrettable judgments? What about other kinds of data–PIPS, etc? How closely do you, as Talent Acquisition work with Talent Management to derive this information?

    Other companies use Manager Satisfaction surveys. What’s the response rate on these surveys? How do they track? Do they show off a normal distribution? Are the bi-modal (which would indicate the only HMs who have GREAT and LOUSY experiences answer? What are the actual qualities of the survey beyond the answers themselves? That would be telling and enable better answers that, in turn, would improve the quality of the QoH metric.

    I guess what I’m saying is, it’s more than the what. It’s the WHAT of the what. I’d be very interested in hearing how people tackle that.

    1. Science requires a hypothesis Ben and reliability and validity can only be determined in context. All of your comments are critical once the what is established but getting to it is the single biggest failure in our space. The folks on the panel have tackled that question for themselves and therefore when they dig deeper (and we’ll certainly do so within our time constraints) it is always in context with what the business/function defines as quality.

      1. I think we’re getting to the same conclusion, but from opposite ends. I agree with you that a hypothesis is always needed. As I’ve tried to counsel HR Leaders, “Ask the question first, then find the metrics to address the question.”

        Unfortunately most tend to do it the other way around. Too often, I’ve seen people just try to follow (or select) a metric just because they read about it in Harvard Business Review, rather than actually see what data (and good data at that) are available in their own organization. The point of what I posted though is that it’s not always enough to identify the metrics; a person needs to have a thorough understanding of those metrics (e.g., reliability and validity) in order to draw good conclusions from them. I just recommend to HR Analysts (and hopefully HR Leaders) to dig deeper if at all possible.

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