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How To Do Data-Driven Hiring

Lin Grensing-Pophal

How To Do Data-Driven Hiring

Making hiring decisions can be a stressful process. HR, hiring managers and recruiters want to get it “right”—they want to pick the best candidate for the role and ensure that the person they pick will prove to be successful in the job. Even when hiring from an internal candidate pool, though, decisions can be influenced by subjective factors that may not be directly linked to the potential of candidate success. In addition, none of us are free from unconscious bias—that bias has the potential to creep into the selection process.

Taking a data-driven hiring approach can help to minimize the potential of a “bad” hire. In addition, minding the data can help you determine how effective—or ineffective—your hiring process is in terms of metrics like time to hire, as well as success rate with placing candidates who perform well in the job.

What is Data-Driven Hiring?

Data-driven hiring is the use of data, through specific metrics, to measure the overall effectiveness of your hiring process. There are a wide range of metrics you might use but, generally, according to First Round Review, they should focus on:

  • Sourcing
  • Screening
  • Interviewing
  • Hiring

Tracking data related to sourcing can help you measure how valuable your various sourcing methods are relative to each other. For instance, referrals compared to responses to ads compared to inquiries through LinkedIn, etc.

Establish targets at each of these stages to help you determine how well your organization’s hiring process is performing. Some of the specific things you might measure could include: cost per hire, time to hire and quality of hire. 

In addition to these stages of the hiring process you might also want to gather data on the candidates you do not hire, especially if they have made it to the interview stage to gauge their feelings about the overall hiring experience. Why? Because you never know when you need to go back out to the same candidate pool and you want to ensure that the experience has been a positive and employer brand-supportive one, even for those who didn’t get an offer this time.

Finally, as you track this data you should be considering the flow of candidates through the process and monitoring the relative numbers that make it to the point of hire. This will help you determine, for instance, if one particular source of candidates is yielding the highest percentage of overall hires. 

The Benefits of Data-Driven Hiring

Taking a data-driven approach to hiring can help you quantify the effectiveness of your overall hiring process to determine where there may be roadblocks or barriers, as well as where you may be performing exceptionally well. Comparing data across divisions or departments can help you identify internal best practices or areas of opportunity for improvement. 

Determining desired outcomes and then tracking performance can help companies improve their hiring efforts in meaningful ways. For HR professionals, data-driven hiring can also provide relevant metrics to demonstrate the positive impact of improvement efforts or initiatives designed to expedite the hiring process, improve the quality of sourced candidates, etc. 

Taking Steps Toward Data-Driven Hiring

The first step is determining which metrics are going to be most meaningful for your organization. There are a wide range of things that you could monitor, but not all data will be equally useful to every organization.

A good starting point is your strategic plan. Suppose, for instance, that one of your strategic initiatives is to staff to meet the demand for engineers to work on a critical new initiative. You might want to establish metrics to evaluate the various sources of candidates for engineering roles, monitor and shorten length of time-to-hire and compare sources of candidates to determine which tend to yield the candidates whose performance is highest after a 12-month interval.

Or, perhaps you want to determine whether internal referrals of candidates perform better after 6, 12 and 18-month intervals than candidates sourced through other channels? Or, you might want to compare the effectiveness of candidates from various sources to determine which tend to yield the best results in terms of effectiveness. 

You may also have recently turned to social media channels—like LinkedIn—as a source of potential candidates. But does LinkedIn provide candidates of the same quality as candidates sourced through ads in trade and professional journals, or recruited through job fairs? 

Gathering and analyzing data can help you answer these questions and more. 

Develop a means of reporting your data and sharing it with senior leaders, hiring managers and HR staff. This can be a good way to start conversations around process improvements and additional metrics that can yield valuable insights. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to move the bar. Perhaps improvements aren’t occurring as quickly as you had hoped. You might want to establish less aggressive goals. Perhaps you’ve far surpassed your original goals; maybe you weren’t aggressive enough.

A data-driven hiring process can help you improve the quality of your hires while driving costs—time and money—out of the process itself. How can you take the first steps toward adding some quantifiable measurements to your staffing process?


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