Use Network Fit to Predict Employee Performance

A significant challenge in the recruiting process is how Talent Acquisition can predict future employee performance.  Many Talent Acquisition professionals choose to screen and evaluate candidates on things like cultural fit, believing that a well performing employee would gel well with the current team.  However, approximately 20% of employees hired using cultural fit have been labeled "bad hires."  This has included employees who did not possess the appropriate skills to do the job as well as employees who just didn't find their place on the team.  It's clear that using cultural fit to evaluate candidates is simply not enough.  So how do you evaluate candidates for future employee performance?

A growing trend in Talent Acquisition is to screen applicants instead using network fit.  Network fit differs from cultural fit because it takes multiple items into account, including skills match, cultural fit, work style and employee values. This means employers need to look at the many ways a future employee may contribute to the team and succeed in their role. 

Evaluating Employee Performance Using Network Fit

According to a recent CEB Global study, recruiting teams using network fit as an evaluation method enhance quality of hire by over 30%.  This is a marked improvement over evaluation methods by cultural fit, which only produce gains of approximately 12%. It's clear that this method of predicting employee performance is more successful overall. But how do recruiting teams put this method into action? And in which ways will it predict future employee performance?  Consider the following strategies to assess future employee performance using network fit:

  • Offer assessment tests.  What better way to determine a candidate's skill set than by using assessment testing? Assessment tests have come a long way in recent years.  There are many different kinds from gamification skills tests to writing prompts, multiple choice tests and complex software assessments. These tests offer a more nuanced view of the skills on a candidate's resume. Candidates are able to really show off their skill sets in these tests and achieve scores that act as ringing endorsements for them. Those who do not perform well quickly screen themselves out of the hiring process. Many recruiting professionals are able to easily qualify or disqualify candidates based on assessment testing during the hiring process.
  • Give personality tests.  Similar to assessment tests, personality tests offer recruiters a glimpse into candidates' personalities and value systems.  These tests often categorize candidates into leadership and team building styles.  In today's complex team environments, personality tests can reveal whether a candidate's future employee performance will be that of a team builder or a solo worker. If a position calls for a skilled networker and team builder, candidates who score on the opposite end of the spectrum will reveal their different work styles in a faster manner than a standard recruiting process alone.
  • Conduct panel interviews.  Whether assessing a candidate for cultural fit or working style, panel interviews can reveal much about future employee performance.  Considering gathering a cross-section of the team together to interview the candidate.  This will provide better insight into whether the candidate will fit in with the team's energy and working styles and provide multiple viewpoints into their strengths.  Panel interviews are often difficult to conduct in person, but they can be easy using video interviews.  Live video interviews allow up to 16 team members to meet with a candidate in one meeting environment. Because they are conducted online, it also enhances the ability of team members to connect from geographically dispersed locations. 
  • Ask scenario based questions. There's an old saying that says "the best indicator of future behavior is previous behavior."  By asking scenario based questions, recruiters can get a more realistic sense of employee performance.  Many recruiters like to ask questions about how a candidate handled a specific challenge in a prior position. This can provide deeper insight into their problem resolution skills, leadership style, and work style. Depending upon the candidate's answer, recruiters can go deeper and learn more about their potential success in the role.
  • Offer pre-employment projects.  Pre-employment projects have been gaining in popularity because they offer a great way for both employers and candidates to evaluate one another.  Employers often are looking to hire someone because they need a specific type of work to get done.  By offering to pay a candidate for their work on this kind of project, employers gain valuable on the job experience with the candidate. How the candidate interacts with the team and meets deadlines and budget requirements can provide insight into future employee performance that no other test or model can produce.  How they behave during the project period and succeed at tasks can often cause a candidate to stand out in the hiring process.

Today's recruiting professionals have many challenges when it comes to making just the right hire. But using these strategies to screen applicants for network fit, employers can become more successful at hiring the best candidate for the organization.

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Comment by Bob McIntosh on December 29, 2015 at 8:23am

Great article, Catherine. I never put all my stock in cultural fit. There's much more that goes into a good hire. Certainly technical abilities should make up the majority of the traits. In place of online assessments, panel or group interviews are an excellent idea. Pre-employment projects may cause trouble if the employer asks a candidate to solve a problem that exists at the company. In other words, gets free services from the candidates. Some of my customers have complained about this.

Comment by Jackye Clayton on December 31, 2015 at 12:42pm

I always wonder, should you look for the culture you have or the culture you WANT to have?

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