Is Anyone Particularly Good at Hiring?

Is Anyone Particularly Good at Hiring?

The popular media and now industry journals (of all types) extolling the virtues of BIG DATA and the resulting analytics solving many of the world’s problems (?) are maybe making HR executives take not of, if not become  enamored with this “hot” new concept.  Thus, they are raising the expectations of their gaining immediate and long lasting analytically based support to business decisions, hoping to again prove HR’s ever increasing value. Is this possible?

I believe it will be. But not yet.

It is too soon for HR to embrace the concept of “Big Data”.  Big Data analytics as defined in the NY Times article (June 20) is a shorthand label for “data scientists” who mine data to derive actionable decisions in science, politics, crime prevention, public health sport and most industries.  The decisions would be based on the findings by these data scientists who have accomplished unheard of in-depth levels of “slicing and dicing data points – seeking truth in forecasting behaviors, trends, tendencies, sentiment and predicting thoughts and choices – by consumers. Seemingly to an already remarkable success.

Except in the more nebulas areas of “Leadership/ Management style and other executive competences and decision making. At least so far.

Has “Big Data” analytics been able to predict the success of a particular employee in “leadership’ as that employee is hired into or is promoted into a leadership or managerial position, from one that is not?

According to Mr. Lazlo Cock,  Senior VP of People Operations at Google, “Not so much” .

He mentions a study within Google that tried to determine if anyone was particularly good at hiring. Looking at over 10,000 interviews and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidates and then how that person ultimately performed in the job – “we found zero relatively” – “it’s a complete random mess”

Bock believes an intrinsic barrier to these types of analytic attempts to capture future leadership and management success is due to the ambiguous nature of what “leadership” is. He does however, believe “behavioral interview techniques” do work. Peer feedback works hand in hand with attempting to quantify leadership qualities.  Bock goes on to say that GPAs and test scores are worthless for hiring.  He states that at Google, after a few years “your ability to perform is unrelated to how you performed at school, because the skills you required in college are very different. You’re fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently”..

So if Big Data – the pure analytics and logarithms developed by data scientists seems suspect (or shaky) in the core aspect of TM, (that of talent identification (leadership identification and development), then what can HR realistically do today? And how can they leverage the tools now made available by HR technology purveyors? Tools such as Business Analytics (Cognos reporting and the like) that have been around for almost a decade.