Want to Foster Innovation? Take a Hard Look at Your Hiring Process First

April 11, 2019 at 2:29 am

If you’ve said something like, “Finding good people is nearly impossible!” recently, it’s time to shake up your hiring processes. Bemoaning the lack of good candidates or the low unemployment rate is not a good look for your firm. You need a plan for bringing in effective talent and fostering innovation. The health of your organization depends on it.

The Reality of Gender Bias in Hiring

The hiring processes at many firms are not only failing to attract top talent, but they are also creating significant problems, such as gender bias and inequality. Iris Bohnet, Harvard University Behavioral Economist, is the author of the new book What Works: Gender Equality by Design. It showcases widespread instances of gender inequality in the workplace. This problem is not a Mad Men-era throwback; it is a pervasive issue that has not been solved, and it’s killing innovation in organizations.


Tragically, women have to continuously negotiate a trade-off between competence and likability during hiring and promotion opportunities. In interviews, for example, women often understate their achievements while men feel more comfortable highlighting theirs. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. By introducing behavioral and cognitive assessments to your hiring process, your firm will end the overwhelming bias and subjectivity of interviews and more accurately predict candidates’ workplace performance.

The bottom line? 1) Unconscious bias is hurting your organization. 2) Pre-employee assessments play a role in reducing unconscious bias. 3) Removing bias in the hiring process can foster diversity and innovation.

The Problem with Unstructured Interviews

Unstructured interviews are still the norm in hiring, despite evidence that they foster rather than ameliorate bias. Panel interviews are even worse than one-on-one discussions, as they can lead to “groupthink.”

During unstructured interviews, too much weight is given to intangibles like common interests or hard-to-define impressions about a candidate’s “culture fit.” The worst part: Women are deeply disadvantaged by these informal methods. It’s time to get rid of outdated and ineffective methods of hiring new talent.

Predicting Job Performance

“Predictors” describe measures that can help HR professionals like yourself figure out who would be the best fit for a particular role. There are lots of different predictors you can measure or track during the hiring process:

  • Experience
  • Education
  • Knowledge
  • References
  • Work samples or portfolio
  • Skills

The best practice is to combine several of these factors when making hiring decisions. However, you shouldn’t weigh them equally. Why not? Because cognitive ability is the best single predictor of job performance.

Hand shake.

Complex jobs require the individual who does them to engage in constant information processing—following new instructions, identifying problems, reacting to problems, changing approaches to adapt to a new situation, anticipating what is coming, etc. Therefore, people who can process and synthesize a lot of information at one time—and do it well—tend to out-perform their peers.

Your organization can assess candidates for cognitive ability using new tools, and add this predictor of job performance to the other factors you’re considering.

The Best Data Available

As an HR professional, it is your job to collect as much relevant data about a job candidate as possible, to ensure they are a good match for a role. You collect all sorts of different data points to make more effective hires. References, resumes, and structured interviews can all help predict performance. Add a cognitive assessment to the hiring mix, and you’ll make a more informed decision. Not only that—you’ll reduce bias in your hiring process and foster more innovation throughout your organization. Win-win-win.

Build higher performing teams: Get started today by contacting Narish International for the latest and most effective pre-employee assessment tools.