3 Questions to Measure Quality of Hire

Which managers in your company hire the best employees? Which could use some extra coaching and training? While I’m sure you have a gut sense as to which have the best and worst success rates, it’s even better if you have data to back up those intuitions. 

Unfortunately, we know from ”Hiring For Attitude” research that a majority of companies do not regularly assess quality of hire, let alone track quality of hire back to the primary decision-maker and interviewer.

A majority of organizations struggle to agree on the definition of, let alone measure, quality of hire. In some companies, quality of hire is as simple as employee retention; in others, it’s based on input from colleagues or even employee engagement scores. Still others use the new hire’s score on the annual performance review. 

The last measure is especially fraught as the research is quite clear that a majority of performance management systems are deeply flawed. For example, in a Leadership IQ study on performance appraisals, only 22% of people think that there’s an accurate differentiation made between high and low performers.

Rather than trying to wrestle with any or all of those existing systems, a better approach to quality of hire is to conduct a quick survey of hiring managers six and 12 months after a new hire starts. You can adjust the timing as appropriate; for some organizations and roles, 90 days is more than enough time to effectively assess the success of a new hire.

While it’s tempting to measure anything and everything in surveys like this, the fewer questions you ask, the more responses you’ll get. To that end, there are three critical questions that will pinpoint the quality of every new hire. And when posting these questions, ask hiring managers to rate each statement on a seven-point scale, ranging from “Always” to “Never.” This will help reduce the skewing of your data, and because it’s a less common rating scale, hiring managers will have to think more deeply about their responses.

Question #1: I would make this hire again.

Knowing what you know now, after working with this person for the past six or 12 months, would you make this hire again?

That’s the essence of quality of hire. An interview is fundamentally an attempt to predict what a candidate will become once they’re actually working for you. If crystal balls really predicted the future, we wouldn’t need job interviews. 

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Unfortunately, crystal balls have not been shown to predict the future consistently, so we’ve got to wait months to assess whether interview predictions were accurate. There are plenty of other issues that play a role in determining the success of a new hire, but nothing is more important than assessing whether the new hire who you ostensibly liked in the interview turned out to be great after you’ve worked together.

Question #2: This new hire has the right attitude to be successful at this organization.

When a new hire fails, 89% of the time it’s for attitudinal reasons, not a lack of skills. 

However, managers are notoriously inconsistent in whether and how they assess the attitudinal fit of a candidate. (One study found that a whopping 68% of HR executives think that their company’s hiring managers are inconsistent in how they evaluate candidates). This question does a good job of revealing which hiring managers effectively gauged candidates’ attitudes during the interview.

Question #3: This new hire has the right skills to be successful at this organization.

Technical skills are by far the easiest quality to assess during an interview. Whether you’re hiring programmers, welders, nurses, or financial analysts, it’s pretty straightforward to test a candidate’s skills during the interview process. So if you discover that hiring managers are missing skills during the interview, it won’t be difficult to install a few mandatory checks that a hiring manager must perform before extending a job offer.

This data isn’t complicated to gather with a simple survey form, and armed with nothing more than a spreadsheet, you’ll be able to quickly sort the data to pinpoint your most successful hiring managers (and the ones most in need of some interview coaching).

Mark Murphy is the CEO of Leadership IQ and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include Hiring For Attitude, Hundred Percenters, HARD Goals, and Managing Narcissists, Blamers, Dramatics and More. Mark’s groundbreaking leadership studies have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and U.S. News & World Report. Mark has also appeared on CNN, NPR, CBS News Sunday Morning, and ABC’s 20/20. He’s trained leaders at the United Nations, Harvard Business School, Microsoft, Mastercard, and hundreds more.

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