How to hire effectively, equitably and at scale

Hiring is critical to an organization’s success. However, finding the right talent is more challenging than ever before. Job boards and HR technology market themselves to help identify the “right fit,” and yet, businesses struggle to hire and retain talent.

A Harvard-Accenture study in 2020 found that there are “more than 27 million hidden workers” — people who could work or find better work, but are overlooked by the current methods of talent acquisition and development in the U.S. These hidden workers already have, or could acquire, the skills needed to succeed, but we’re missing them completely because our outmoded hiring defines fit by a piece of paper, instead of evaluating the whole person through their skills, interests and values.

How do you find people with the right values?

There are four qualities I look for in a candidate:

  1. Initiative. I ask candidates to walk me through their life history, starting in high school. It shows the behavioral side of the candidate and whether they had the initiative to try new things, even beyond a traditional work setting.
  2. Independence. See if a candidate is comfortable taking risks and making mistakes. What mistakes have they personally made in their career and how were they resolved? It’s how you learn and grow from those mistakes which differentiates between good and great candidates.
  3. Openness. Dig into the power dynamic between the candidate and a superior. How did they handle a challenging boss? Were they open with their boss about a situation, or did they gossip at the water cooler? If they can’t face a situation openly, they’re not going to be a fit for the organization.
  4. Directness. Can a candidate have a direct conversation with a superior or peer? If they bit off too much, can they communicate directly and raise their hand for help? I’d much rather have someone be direct, open and honest versus hiding behind a passive attitude.

How do you assess skill fit equitably?

  1. Remove Unnecessary Barriers. Companies should evaluate the key criteria to get the job done and ask themselves “Do they need a degree, or can we train on the job, or enroll them in a certification program as part of a long-term growth plan within the company?”
  2. Untap Talent Through Transferable Skills. One of our users mentioned she saw hiring signs outside her local bank, but never applied because she didn’t have banking experience. She was matched in the UnifyWork platform based on transferable skills, such as data entry and customer service, and ended up getting the job. Don’t focus on exact experience; you’ll limit your talent pool.
  3. Anonymize Candidates. Mask candidates’ identities from resumes before they are reviewed. This way, you will only see details about a candidate’s experience and education, and minimize bias.

By asking the right questions, and leveraging technology that enables you to minimize bias and gain a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate’s skills and experience, companies can find the right talent, inclusively and at scale. ●

Stephen McHale is CEO of UnifyWork

Stephen McHale

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