First Match vs Best Match

Recruitment is tough. No matter how hard you try, there are always more requisitions that need to be filled. I have limited experience in talent acquisition but can sympathize. Year after year, businesses plan for a certain intake and invariably during the year shuffle those numbers. Once a requisition opens, you line up many many resumes for the initial review and are lucky if you land a hire call in the first ten. It is thus easy to understand why we end up with the first match vs the best match. We hire the first person who we feel can meet the expectations of the role and move on to the next open requisition. Usually, the first match for the role is not the best match for the role. Instead of hiring someone in the top quartile of the skill bracket, it is likely we end up with someone at the middle of the bracket. Yet, given the cost benefit trade-off, the focus on speed and volume is often the right decision.

Finding the best match requires comparing each potential future employee against every candidate in the pipeline vs only job expectations and cultural fit. For roles that need to deliver groundbreaking innovation, the first match may not be the right call. There is thus a need for a process that allows selection of the best candidate for the job vs the first candidate; a process that allows for comparison of candidates against the available talent pool.  Yet, my many hours of browsing the internet and conversations with colleagues has failed to unearth a mechanism to do so.

The closest process that I have come across so far is that of hiring ahead. This involves interviewing candidates before requisitions open. Think of it as a certification of sorts that is valid for 12 months. These candidates go through an interview loop and instead of ending up with a job offer, are put on a list. The interview notes are available to the pool of hiring managers. As and when a requisition comes along, managers look at the assessment and an offer is rolled out with no additional interviews. Alternately, sometimes, the talent acquisition team discovers a diamond in the midst, reaches out to potential hiring managers, has a custom requisition opened and rolls out an offer. The ‘hire ahead’ process comes with a lot of open questions, potential roadblocks and naysayers, yet when it comes to finding the best match, it is the only process that I am aware of.

Of course, my search continues. There must be someone out there with a better idea; someone who has found a way around this. If you know of one, let me know and if I discover something, goes without saying – I will let you know.


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