As Talent Manager for Tray.io, Michael Kieran led the implementation of a structured, data-driven hiring process that helped the low-code automation company increase employee diversity .
“Using data to make hiring decisions is essential, but certainly not easy,” Kieran said.
Striving to have diverse teams and workplaces isn’t just the right thing to do. It can also improve innovation and financial performance. Data support this affirmation. And the first step, according to fast businessis to “actively recruit diverse candidates”.
Just in case you need a reminder – hiring matters.
“When we consider the total costs involved in hiring and paying an employee, the cost in retaining that person, and then factoring in the potential cost of replacing them, it’s clear that we should treat every hiring decision we make like a six-figure buy for the company,” Kieran said. “As we would with a product or service, the decision must be made based on objective reasoning and data.”
Kieran and Tray.io use a method called structured hiring.
“At a high level,” Kieran said, “structured hiring is exactly what it sounds like. It just means creating a clear, consistent, and structured hiring process and establishing objective assessment criteria for each role. “
In a recent chat with ZDNet, Kieran talked about:
- How and Why the Company Uses a Data-Driven Approach to Hiring
- How using data has improved the company’s ability to attract and retain talent
- What other companies could learn from the Tray.io experience
Below is our email interview. It has been condensed and edited.
What was the company doing before adopting a data-driven approach to hiring?
Michael Kieran: Prior to implementing this approach, we were doing what most companies around the world do, which is to prioritize the past experience of companies we admire, index to the dynamic overall with the recruitment team and, when making the decision, “use our instincts”.
I still believe there is a lot of room for these factors, as they offer very real insight into the potential fit between candidate and employer. But relying solely on resumes, team dynamics, and the fun of “having a beer” with the person is a slippery slope.
Over time, this creates barriers to entry, spawns cohesive teams, and ultimately puts companies at a problem-solving disadvantage due to a lack of perspectives in the room. For this reason, we focus on objective data and compensate for our human tendencies.
Does the data-driven approach extend to the recruitment process?
MK: We certainly use data in our recruiting efforts, but I would liken the data we collect in our recruiting funnel more to a demand generation machine than to the supply data that a company would collect during a purchase decision.
In recent years, hiring has been particularly competitive. Most employers have made a significant shift by prioritizing the employee experience.
Building a culture and mission that people want to be part of and an engaged workforce are no longer differentiators – they’re table stakes, and a plethora of companies do it exceptionally well. Candidates have a choice!
To attract and engage the most talented people, we continue to iterate on our outbound movement and inbound response – always striving for a world-class candidate experience. We are constantly in a “Build > Measure > Learn” loop, always trying to understand what approaches work and what can be improved.
Which data points do you consider and which are excluded?
MK: In an interview process, we work hard to prioritize objective criteria. In some roles, some soft skills might be assessed subjectively. Turning these assessments and opinions into clear data can be difficult. These are the hardest to bottle and, because of that, where our real work comes in.
Our recruiting team spends a considerable amount of time working with hiring managers to truly understand the issues we are looking to address with this new hire. Usually, through these conversations, we can better understand why soft skills traits and other subjective criteria can be so important.
With this understanding, we can design questions, tests, and other objective ways to assess a candidate that will give the hiring manager the answers they seek without relying on their personal instincts to make the decision.
It’s usually a relief for big recruiters to help them solve this problem. If we can take something hard to measure and give them a framework they can use to make great decisions, they’ll hire better people and lead stronger teams.
At the same time, a process and system like this is only as good as your recruiting team. When they buy in and commit to the process, commit to making objective decisions, and commit to hiring in a structured way and data being the first indicator to use in making a decision, you will have an effective structured hiring mechanism.
You may have outliers on hiring teams that resist or even refuse to accept an objective hire. In these situations, it is not only important to tackle them head-on quickly, but to seek to understand why the resistance exists.
Your potential for uncovering unconscious biases, inconsistent interview questions, or intuitive decisions will be highest with these outliers.
How does data influence final hiring decisions?
MK: In a perfect world, we would interview candidates and have an algorithm – or some kind of machine – making all of the hiring decisions for us with a 0% margin of error. In reality, people make decisions, and those people and their feelings strongly influence the outcome.
The final hiring decision is made by the hiring manager. I believe that the best hiring managers use all the data points collected during a review process to make this decision. They analyze objectively, consider the potential for success, and are certainly aware of the biases that they or their team may bring to an assessment, including those of their analysis.
Ultimately, the best hiring managers see the hiring process as a privilege, a responsibility, and a major decision for the organization. Those who truly view hiring this way welcome objective data to make decisions.
SEE: Ethical dilemmas in computing: why should you care?
How has a data-driven approach to hiring improved diversity?
MK: Our data-driven approach is designed to be objective and actively remove bias from the recruitment process, making teams more diverse – from their backgrounds and past experiences to their skills, education, etc.
With our approach to hiring, we see the potential in candidates from underrepresented groups that are sometimes overlooked for more subjective reasons, like where they went to school.
Our Human Resources and Talent departments hold regular in-house training sessions for general employees and management to cover topics such as unconscious bias, interviewer training and non-harassment.
In order to ensure fairness for various candidates during the hiring process, we have also implemented an augmented writing platform that analyzes job descriptions to ensure our language is focused on fairness. without subconscious biases.
How can companies use the knowledge gained from Tray.io?
MK: While resumes and past experience are great to include in an assessment and provide a compelling story about someone, they’re really just proof of what someone has done in the past. …
A very simple and practical way to map potential is to put a candidate’s trajectory on a line graph on a scale of 1 to 10. Where they are today is important, but where they will be in 12 months is what who matters the most.
For example, would you rather hire someone who is an eight today and will remain an eight over time or someone who is a seven today but will be a nine in a year?
Often the experience profile of this seven is based on a lack of opportunity. If you are the business and the leader giving them this opportunity, you have yourself a missionary.
As more businesses are beginning to recognize this, they can help individuals from underrepresented groups build careers, break economic cycles, and make a real impact on lives.
To implement their own objective, data-driven hiring process, companies must first assess who they are as a company, including clearly defining their culture and core values, then refine and define the criteria. necessary to succeed in each role within the company. company.
As with all change management, there are three steps to implementing structured recruiting.
First, build trust by asking and answering, “Why are we doing this?” Second, create clarity. What are the expectations and results of doing this? Third, execute and generate results. …
Ensuring teams are diverse and breaking down barriers also allows organizations to leave their own impactful legacy that helps attract and retain top talent.