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Staffing Advisors Blog

Bob Corlett

Recent Posts

How to Assess Cultural Fit Without Perpetuating Bias

Posted by Bob Corlett on June 23, 2020

Some people have persuasively argued that hiring managers should steer clear of trying to assess cultural fit in hiring because it leads to biased hiring decisions. Others have convincingly argued that employers do have a responsibility to assess cultural fit in hiring and that it will not lead to discrimination if handled properly. A couple of years ago, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) took the middle ground and had two HR experts debate the pros and cons of the topic in, Does Hiring for ‘Culture Fit’ Perpetuate Bias? 

From my review of the literature, it appears that the reason people are either for or against evaluating cultural fit depends on their level of confidence that employers will invest the time and effort to be methodical in their assessments. That’s a valid point.

For more than a decade, we’ve been looking closely at how we can help our clients assess cultural fit without perpetuating bias. Across hundreds of completed searches, we’ve found that it’s entirely possible for employers to methodically assess cultural fit during the interview process without perpetuating bias, but it usually requires a change in how you define, evaluate and discuss cultural fit.

To reduce the impact of bias in your hiring practices, look very closely at how you assess cultural fit in the interview. Untrained managers who are using an unstructured interview sequence will almost always perpetuate bias, regardless of their personal intentions. As legendary management guru W. Edwards Deming observed, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” 

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How to Select Resumes Without Perpetuating Bias

Posted by Bob Corlett on June 23, 2020

When we present a slate of candidates to a hiring manager, we don’t “pitch” who we like best. Nor do we suggest they start their selection process by reading the candidates’ resumes. Both practices introduce far too much bias to the hiring process.

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Principles of Evidence-Based Interviewing℠

Posted by Bob Corlett on June 23, 2020

Familiar old ways of hiring are failing to meet the moment. It’s increasingly obvious that employers need a new approach that fairly assesses candidates during video interviews and more accurately determines who will be successful in a virtual work environment.

Organizations want to build more diverse teams and want to reduce bias throughout the hiring process. By now we've all seen the research indicating that more diverse teams are smarter, more creative, and perform better financially. Employers are frustrated, recognizing that differential treatment by race (and other factors) is still commonplace in hiring. But even with bias prevention training and the best of intentions, outdated hiring practices often result in hiring people who are demographically similar to their hiring manager.

It’s time we broke that cycle of failure by interrupting the patterns of behavior that created it.

Better approaches to hiring already exist. The research that supports them is clear and compelling. Let's not blame the individual hiring manager when hiring problems are systemic. What’s needed is an evidence-based approach to hiring that directly addresses the mental errors and systemic bias inherent in common hiring practices.

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What is Evidence-Based Interviewing℠?

Posted by Bob Corlett on June 23, 2020

Everyone wants to hire the most qualified candidates, but the most familiar hiring practices tend to value personal opinion over facts. And, as comfortable as we all are with our own opinions, extensive research reveals how pervasively our personal opinions lead to unintentional bias, missed missed opportunities and outright hiring mistakes. (You'll see in the research that outdated hiring practices often result in hiring people who are demographically similar to their hiring manager.) And the advent of entirely virtual interviews scrambles the hiring decision in new ways.

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Keeping Employees Safe, Secure, and Productive as We Reopen (Webinar)

Posted by Bob Corlett on June 12, 2020

Keeping Employees Safe, Secure, and Productive as we Reopen (Webinar)

I recently joined Heinan Landa, the CEO of Optimal Networks for a webinar. The topic was how to keep employees safe, secure, and productive in various scenarios for office reopening. We discussed a framework for balancing the risk, cost, and intrusiveness of various IT solutions in a work from home (WFH) environment. Our conversation focused on IT security, but that same decision-making framework applies to many aspects of work life now, including how we hire people in the pandemic economy.

Reopening Webinar June 9
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The Case for Evidence-Based Reference Checking

Posted by Bob Corlett on June 11, 2020

In an extensive study of 19 different employee selection methods, reference checking came in a dismal 13th in predicting the success of a new hire. There is also evidence that candidates from privileged backgrounds perpetuate that privilege in the reference checking process. Apparently, most reference checking practices aren’t much better than gathering advice from strangers on the internet (according to the internet this is a bad idea).

To get more value from our reference checks, we started asking different questions. Our goal was to improve the ratio we were gathering of fact vs. opinion. We call this “evidence-based reference checking” and it naturally follows our Evidence-Based InterviewingSM process. The difference was striking. All we changed was the reference questions themselves (because we already had a cleverly drafted reference release form, a protocol for asking for who we wanted to speak with, and were already independently verifying the identity of the person giving the reference).
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Job Search During a Pandemic (Webinar)

Posted by Bob Corlett on June 4, 2020

Landing a new job during an economic downturn is challenging, and social distancing only adds to the complexity. Over the past 3 decades, we’ve carefully studied how hiring managers make decisions. Once you understand their perspective, you will improve your odds of being hired.

Here's what you will learn in this webinar:
  • How the remote work environment is changing the hiring process and how you need to adapt.
  • How to use the virtual interviewing format to your advantage.
  • How to make an effective case for yourself (without bragging).
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How Did We Find You?

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 28, 2020

Because business practices vary widely between executive search firms, candidates often have a few questions for us. For example, when we contact people to discuss a new career opportunity, they often ask, “How did you find me?” (Most candidates want to know what they did right to ensure that new opportunities keep flowing their way.)

The answer could be flattering if a colleague recommended you. The answer might be instructive if you were found because of something you did; perhaps you wrote something or spoke at a conference, or perhaps your work appeared in the media or a public database. It’s also likely that your website bio or LinkedIn profile yielded relevant information. Perhaps we came across you during a previous search and wanted to keep you in mind for future opportunities.

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How to Justify Paying Executive Search Firm Fees

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 27, 2020

During an economic downturn, it’s wise to make a strong business case for major expenditures. And if you are considering paying a fee to an executive search firm, it’s not hard to envision your CFO looking into their video camera incredulously and asking, “In the middle of a pandemic, with the national unemployment rate at 20 or 30%, why do we need a search firm?” Your CFO might have a point. Why not just post an ad somewhere, let candidates line up around the block (6 feet apart), and then hire the best person who applied? The truth is, for some jobs, that might work out just fine. Particularly if great people with the skills you need have been laid off in large numbers.

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How Modern Recruiters Find Candidates

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 27, 2020

Most people think recruiters spend their days calling their contacts to ask for candidate referrals (because that’s one of the most visible activities of a modern recruiter). Yes, recruiters do often ask, “Who do you know who might want this job?” But relying on this question invariably excludes some very well-qualified candidates. By itself, the recruiting approach leads to very narrow thinking and tiny little homogenous candidate pools, because we all tend to know people who are demographically similar to us. I consider this to be recruiting malpractice.

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