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CSI: Recruiting - Candidate Science Investigation

by Joseph Murphy

The popular TV show CSI has created a fascination with the science behind crime scene investigation.  It has raised interest and awareness to the science of forensics, or as Webster defines it: the use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts.  In law, decisions should be supported with evidence.

The result of this TV series has been an explosion in enrollment in criminal justice and law enforcement related programs at colleges and technical schools across the country.  The outcome will be a flood of graduates imbued with knowledge and skills, hopeful about being hired by leading edge crime fighting police departments who want more science in their prosecution.  In recruiting, hiring decisions should be based upon evidence supported with sound data collection and analysis too.

A similar science-based approach for establishing decision support evidence is available for recruiters: Industrial/Organizational Psychology (I/O Psych).  These professionals are the CSI: Recruiting specialists - Candidate Science Investigators

This professional discipline was established in the early 20th century, to apply psychological principles and techniques to business and industrial problems, as in the selection of personnel.  Before crime investigator forensics hit prime time TV, forensic specialists worked quietly behind the scenes improving the quality of data collected and used to build a case.  Industrial/Organizational Psychologists (I/O Psych) are quietly at work around the world, building data collection methods that improve the quality of  hire  with selection science.  These professionals design the data collection methods called assessment.

Every law department has someone trained in forensics because they know better evidence improves the decision in our justice process.  Will it take a fast paced TV series before companies sit up and take notice of the work being done by CSI Recruiting?

Doctorate degrees have been offered in I/O Psych for over 80 years.  These graduates have been snapped up by leading edge companies who understand the competitive advantage of more science in their recruiting process.  The evidence of I/O Psych’s contribution is compelling.

Here are a few simple examples from our work with selection science and HR Analytics that shed a bit of light on to the potential of better candidate data.

A retail operation with thousands of stores had been using a candidate screening criteria of “years of experience in a similar industry.”  Intuitively, every one thought it had made sense.  However, during a recent study by a team of I/O Psychologists, evidence determined that the longer a candidate had been in the similar industry, the less likely they were to be an above average contributor at this firm.

Similarly, in a capital equipment field sales representative position, the company had established screening criteria of hiring people who had worked for the major competitors.  After an investigation by a team of I/O Psychologists, the evidence demonstrated the longer a candidate had worked for the competition, the less likely they were to be an above average performer.

Ironically, “related experience” is often a candidate screening criteria.  In both cases, using that factor places positive weight on a evaluation criteria with negative value.  The CSI Recuiting teams had been chasing bad leads, intuitive assumptions, proved wrong by evidence.

In both cases, the evidence collection process was dramatically improved across a broad range of factors that contributed to a better quality of hire through CSI.

More examples can be found on our case study page.

Crime scene investigation is typically more like making one high stakes hiring decision.  The consequence of the decision can be significant.  The approach used to leverage I/O psychology varies depending on the scale of the staffing process.  A once every few years hiring decision requires a different solution than staffing processes which make hundreds or even thousands of hiring decisions every year.

If your company has a job or job family with over 100 employees in it, I/O psychology can begin to add measurable impact on performance with each hiring decision.  If you have a job with thousands of employees engaged in fundamentally the same work, it could be the basis for a charge of Recruiter Negligence for not engaging an I/O psychologist.  In high volume hiring processes, the size of the data set, the frequency of decision making, and the potential for significant performance variation almost mandated Candidate Science Investigation.  Click here to review some criteria to consider to determine if CSI is appropriate for your recruiting situation.

The decision to hire will always be an act of personal judgment.  However, every executive knows a decision is only as good at the data behind it.  There is a great opportunity for staffing process owners to do real CSI: Candidate Science Investigation.  Without the use of selection science, data collection and analysis, recruiting could be activity without insight.

Watch our movie to learn more.