The Fallacy of Bigger is Better – Advanced Modelling in Recruitment

Recruitment Challenges – Robust vs Nimble

lenghty recruitment process kills talentThe slogan for that ale: I would rather die of thirst than drink from the cup of mediocrity occured to me recently. And how a faulty assumption in a simple mathematical model can cause the fall of even the mightiest of companies today. All this was triggered by a hostile takeover, a jobhunt, countless applications, numerous interviews and a couple of negotiations. The basic point is: if your company is not fast enough, mathematically it is likely to hire a worse-than-average candidate, and is most unlikely to hire an exceptional one.

Bear with me a little, the maths is very simple, its consequences are far-reaching, and I am very happy to argue with anyone who says the predictions are ultimately wrong.

Let’s assume:

  • Your company is recruiting
  • It is actually looking for the best of talent
  • Each week there are 100 new candidates
  • Only 5% of all new applicants are outstanding talent

A traditional linear model predicts that if you extend the hiring process to, say, 12 weeks, you are going to end up with a 1200-strong candidate pool and you will have 60 top performers to choose from. Nice, 60 people who are the best of the best, the top 5% of the league table. Does this sound/look/feel familiar? Yes, almost all big corporate use this model. They open a lengthy window to accumulate a sizable pool to choose from. All based on the assumption that longer (bigger) is better. Wrong.

Let’s make another two assumption:

  • An average candidate takes 5 weeks to find a new job
  • An outstanding candidate takes 2 weeks

Let’s see a non-linear model. The number of outstanding candidates at any given moment is going to be 10 in this equasion. Outstanding candidates go quick, they do not accumulate, they get hired very fast. So, there are only 100 people * 5% * 2 weeks = 10 top performers. Moreover, by the end of your 12 weeks, there are only 720 people left in the pool, because even the average Tom, Dick and Harry got hired in 5 weeks. So you end up with a pool that has only 10 top performers, 590 average people and 120 people who were not able to find a job like the average applicant.

So, your companies inability to conduct the interviews in a timely, effective and efficient fashion reduced the percentage of top talent from 5% to 1.4%, less than one third, and the share of low performers is now 16%, ten times the number of top performers.

Give it a thought…

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