Data in Hiring – Small Data over Big Data

data in hiringData in hiring is certainly useful. It also needs wisdom to use.  Finance has always used data even if some of it was misleading or wrongful. Production and  Quality got in the act with Six Sigma and such. Sales figured out how to track customers and sales by organizing data.

Hiring has stayed out of it. But the big recruiters are now nuts about it. They find a phrase that many great hires use and then get the guys who use that phrase and hire one. Of course the best scammers know these phrases too, so the game begins.

Forbes  mentions that Korn Ferry is way out front on using big data. Why is the biggest multi million dollar placement mistake I know by them in China? The guy they convinced this big company to take was bad  news from day one,but he was super crafty and did not get caught for 18 months though he rarely came to work and played for 18 months while manipulating everything as necessary.

I guess that the Chinese were way out front on gaming these systems. Korn Ferry and the other big recruiters were never interested in going to data for quality. They wanted to save labor costs and increase contract to hire speed. They succeeded and got the biggest scammer in position faster. I think he knew his big data. So big data is possibly useful, but we found something better

Data in Hiring – Small Data?

So what are we to do?  Go back to gut feel? Well, many leaders and recruiters never left gut feel actually. Gut feel is still King!  But data must have some place we say.

Others will say that people are too complicated.  Leaders will say they can know the right person or not in 15 minutes. Which is true? Are people completely inscrutable? Or are they an open book to the savvy?

I got into recruiting because I had a really good feel for the right talent. My hit rate was high and my home run rate were higher than all around me.  However, I knew that my insight was limited and failures could occur.

So I looked more at the issue and realized that we had to get past gut feel. Gut feel should lead us to seek data. But how can we get data?

If his old boss says he is great is that a certain good hire as that data point is unassailable?

Data….We must find objective data. In fact the more we looked and the more we thought the more objective data we could find.  We combined that with interview and resume data and the picture started to get clearer quite fast.

The big companies made bad placements despite big data because they were too lazy. They were rolling in customers and finding ways to lower costs every day. It is hard work to dig up objective data. It is hard work to interview in such a way to set up the background check.

I knew conceptually what was needed for good hires, but with data we could rise even hire.  We use small data. Small data is super useful.

We see some places where data is king in our recruiting. We see other places where data is for reference use only. We choose to doubt our gut feel and find a lot more that way via small data.

We choose to doubt big data as see the best have gamed them too well.  We also believe that no data solution can be full proof.  Hiring will never be poka-yoke.  Find someone who can do more than use data to save labor. Find someone who knows that gut feel is not good enough and in China often a huge mess. Small data is king for us.


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Posted in: China Recruitment - Getting Good People

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