A new survey by human resource consulting firm Development Dimensions International and web-based recruiting resource Electronic Recruiting Exchange (ERE) reveals what keeps successful organizations on top. They don't just glance at a resume and then hire whoever looks good in a suit, but instead use four modern hiring practices to find top talent.

Keys to success
"The survey strongly suggests that specific hiring practices and tools are linked to an organization's success," says Scott Burton, vice president of staffing and assessment consulting for DDI. The study shows that in the past year the organizations with the more effective hiring systems ranked higher in financial performance, productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and retention. "This is further proof of what HR professionals have long said: Success is based on finding the right people for the right jobs."

"The survey offered still more evidence for the power of web technologies within the recruiting industry," says ERE president David Manaster. "In fact, the results show that the Internet has superseded the hallmark of recruiting success, employee referrals, as the most widely used and effective recruitment tool for many professionals."

Four hiring practices of highly successful organizations
The study revealed that the organizations with the most effective hiring policies were more likely to use the following four practices:

  • Job interviews in which candidates are asked to describe specific examples of their skills
  • Automated resume screening and search
  • Assessments that predict whether candidates are motivated by the factors associated with a particular job or a company's values and ways of doing things
  • Simulations that gauge specific job-related abilities and skills

"Organizations should be using the four key hiring practices more, because they make it much easier to find the best candidates," Burton says. "The current news of layoffs may be creating the illusion that it will be easier to hire good people, but that's a mistake. It may be easier to get a mound of resumes, but it will continue to be difficult to find the right people for the right job."

Effective hiring practices
Job interviews in which candidates describe specific examples of their skills: The survey reported that 94% of the organizations already use this kind of interview, which a variety of studies have shown is the form of interviewing that most accurately predicts future performance. In fact, according to the DDI/ERE survey, such "behavior-based interviewing" is so successful that nearly 40% of the organizations in the study are planning to do even more in the future.

Automated resume screening and search: In the next three years, nearly half of the organizations surveyed will increase their use of automated resume screening and search, a process which has made it much easier to screen, organize and find resumes. In addition, 12% of the organizations will make greater use of computer-assisted interviewing to further streamline the selection process.

Assessments: Though assessments and simulations have proven their effectiveness, the survey revealed that a majority of organizations do not use any form of assessment, and less than 30% reported extensive use of testing and assessment methods. In the next three years, however, organizations will make greater use of testing methods, including assessments and simulations that measure job knowledge and abilities, and also how well a candidate's motivations match up with the company culture and the job.

At the same time, it is important to realize that an organization must use the right kinds of tools for each job. "An ability test for a worker in a manufacturing plant is a far cry from the complex assessment tools needed to evaluate top executives," Burton says.

Growing leaders
The survey did point out that when organizations filled a mid- or senior-level leadership position, in general, external candidates were selected more often than internal candidates, a practice that may hint at a weakness in selection practices. "Although there are times when external candidates have skills internal candidates do not, our research at DDI has shown there are many benefits to 'growing your own leaders," Burton says. "Internal candidates have knowledge no outside candidate can have, and it's easier to get an accurate and in-depth assessment of internal candidates' strengths and weaknesses."

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