Merit- and Evidence-based Hiring in Building Diversity

In a world where global social upheavals and diversity awareness is fueled by technological advancements, it is no question that the world should be further along in matters concerning employee equity than it is. Yet, when it comes to ensuring workplace diversity, many business leaders still fall short when it comes to enforcing efficient diversity and inclusion efforts. 

A good place to start is to look at the way you are hiring. After all, recruitment is where organizations build the next generation of their business.

One of the most prevalent issues in the hiring process is biasness – specifically unconscious biases can stem from simple things like conducting unstructured interviews or simply selecting candidates based on gut feel.

Adopting merit- and evidence-based selection processes can be your key to effectively improving your workplace diversity and eventually productivity. 

First things first…..

What is merit- and evidence- based hiring?

Evidence-based hiring is similar to merit-based hiring practices in the sense that they both eliminate discrimination and nepotism from the process and guarantees that personal judgments, bias and other arbitrary indicators do not affect the candidate’s selection. 

Merit-based hiring is a system where you hire a candidate simply based on whether they have the necessary hard & soft skills for a particular job rather than where the candidate worked before, obtained their degree or total years of experience. With this method, managers normally assess the quality of the candidate based on their qualifications, previous experience and skills. This method alone can still leave room for biasness to play a role as managers also have to rely on their gut feel when making a hiring decision. 

Evidence-based hiring, on the other hand, is hiring candidates based on the factors that are the most predictive of job outcomes. 

How does this work? You may ask. 

To identify these predictive factors, you can compare the data of successful candidates’ performance collected during the screening process – based on assessment and interview results to their on-the-job performance one year into their role. Through this analysis, you are gathering evidence of how well a certain hiring factor predicts the job outcomes. By building a hiring process that prioritizes these predictive factors, organizations can improve their hiring outcomes.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll be focusing on evidence-based hiring. 

Why is this recruitment system significant for workplace diversity?

Bias – often a deep-rooted influence – is still prevalent to this day and will continue to hinder organizations from recognizing real potential in their talent pool, if not addressed. While this may stem from a lack of procedures, it is important to note that this is a systemic problem which starts from the initial contact job seekers have with a company. 

Shifting to a more data-driven hiring approach exposes an organization to a much larger pool of applicants who possess the skills and aptitude necessary to excel in the available positions.

A study published by the American Psychological Association, which analyzed 85 years of research, was used to rank different hiring factors based on how well they predicted job performance outcomes. The evidence of this study found that the most efficient hiring factors are work samples, cognitive ability tests and structured interviews. 

With all this at play, it is essential to build a stable foundation of workplace diversity by implementing a more ethical recruitment process.

How to implement it into your hiring processes?

To improve key metrics such as turnover, time to fill, retention and diversity, it is important to recognize the importance of combining data-driven methods and analysis with recruiters and hiring managers’ skills to assess candidates’ knowledge, skills and abilities in areas relevant to the job for which they applied.

Below are a few simple steps inspired by top multinational companies Pulsifi works with to help you start executing this initiative.

1. Define What You’re Looking for In a Talent

The critical step when implementing merit-based recruitment is to identify specific behaviors, capacities and expertise your ideal candidate should have as well as determine the potential a candidate could develop over time. Building a clear persona for each role based on facts from the start because that will help you to recognize and eliminate bias. 

You should consider your business needs and how a particular job position contributes to reaching your business goals. That way, you can better understand what to look for in a job applicant and not judge based on superficial factors such as the candidate’s background and grades.

2. Benchmark Based on Existing Top Performers

When it comes to analyzing your top performers, ensure that they are measured against the norm group to make certain that the process will be as devoid of biases as possible to enable a truly pro-diverse approach from beginning to end; another similar method would be to take all employees in a specific role to form the benchmark for said position. This is also a good time to identify any disparities between the top employees and average employees to see if your organization may unintentionally be complicit in the lack of diversity in the job market.

Once you have defined the behavioral skills and competencies that are necessary for exceptional performance, you can use this information as a benchmark for new job applicants. Evaluate the skills, experience and knowledge the most successful talents in your company have and how their abilities compare to those you need for a particular job position. Moreover, identify some of the ways in which your best employees reached their full potential to recognize promising candidates who could achieve the same outcome.

3. Gather and analyze candidate data

Drawing from industrial and organizational psychology, evidence-based selection utilizes a standardized, consistent process and relevant quantitative data to facilitate a multidimensional assessment of job candidates. 

      • Use pre-employment assessments such as psychometric and cognitive assessments – Merit-based hiring means that you should understand each individual, their soft and hard skills, and what makes them a good fit. That could help you predict their potential to perform well in a particular role. 

Psychometric assessments enable you to evaluate the abilities, values, motivation, character, creativity and integrity of a candidate. For example, our Personality Discovery test gives insight into different behavioral tendencies and characteristics that might affect work performance. 

You can also use a cognitive ability test to determine a candidate’s abilities involved in thinking (e.g., reasoning, perception, memory, verbal and mathematical ability, and problem solving). Such tests pose questions designed to estimate applicants’ potential to use mental processes to solve work-related problems or to acquire new job knowledge. 

      • Create a structured interview process  – Interviews are just as significant for evaluating hard skills and soft skills which can be achieved by asking the right questions. Ask appropriate situational and competency-based questions specific to the role and based on the candidate’s profile details to get a better understanding of their thought process, perspectives and what they need to succeed in a particular job role. 

By structuring interview questions, you eliminate bias and do your best to determine a candidate’s eligibility and cultural fit. To do this, we advise developing an interview kit that can be used as a guide for your team to conduct a focused, purposeful interview and collect valuable feedback. It can include various topics you would like to cover with the interviewee, such as background questions and role or industry-specific questions.

With Pulsifi’s interview kit feature, you can view the traits that your candidate scores exceptionally high or low in and get a list of recommended interview questions that is based on the candidate’s profile and what is critical to the role. These questions are designed to help you gain a deeper understanding of the candidate’s work styles, culture and interests.

      • Validating gut feeling – Although instincts can be biased, relying on strict logic is sometimes impossible. The way to combat this is to validate your gut feel against data, identify behavioral patterns and learn how to apply a criterion reasonably by leveraging advanced data analytics and AI technology based on people science. These technologies are designed to purely assess facts obtained through data which limits any personal biases and inconsistencies in decision-making habits due to its impartial nature. 

For example, if a hiring manager doesn’t feel like the candidate is a critical thinker and problem solver, then he/she can break these qualities into measurable or observable behaviors. The hiring manager can use an assessment or ask relevant situational questions to assess the candidate’s critical thinking skill and their ability to use a range of logical skills.

4. Review Selection Process

Before reviewing your selection process, it is important to remember that you should be sourcing from a diverse pool of candidates to begin with. One of the ways you can do this is to post job vacancies on a wider range of platforms and make sure to scan the post beforehand in case of any discriminatory requirements. 

You should continuously be reviewing the candidate screening and selection process to check whether diverse job applicants are moving through each phase successfully. In the case of finding any glitches or faults hindering recruitment, determine the cause and whether or not it could be hiring bias.

Some other methods you can implement to improve the selection process include:

      • Being aware of different State and Local Laws on workplace discriminatory practices
      • Give employees hands-on training about the Do’s and Don’ts regarding discrimination during the hiring process

Data-driven Recruitment as a Path to Inclusion

The increasing number of our well-educated younger generations are demanding a more modern and forward-thinking approach to workplaces. This welcome progress just goes to show how more industry leaders are now starting to realize that they can no longer afford to ignore untapped leadership talent and must begin overcoming these long-established cultural norms

While it is clear that organizations still have some way to go in terms of workplace diversity, the recruitment process as the starting point of inclusion is a good way to establish long-lasting, positive changes. You may be surprised to find that talent and potential comes in all shapes and sizes.

Pulsifi helps reputable organizations streamline their hiring by providing insights on candidates’ hard skills and soft traits, and our platform predicts their work outcomes with over 90% accuracy, making the selection process more effective and efficient.

Get a demo of Pulsifi’s platform and see how we can take your recruitment process to an inclusive level!

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