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The worst way to make a hiring decision

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November 30, 2020
By Todd Humber

“Who would you rather have a beer with?”

That line was tossed at me early in my career by a former boss. The context? We were making a hiring decision that was down to two equally qualified candidates.

The beer test? It was a well-intentioned tiebreaker designed to separate the candidates and help make the final call. At the time, it made sense. I have to work with the person, so it might as well be someone I got along with in a social setting.

So, bottoms up, we hired the editor who we wanted to hang out with at a pub.


Fast forward a couple of decades, and many hires later, and I’m hard pressed to brew up a more flawed or biased way to make a hiring decision. That hire worked out in spite of our criteria, not because of it.

We know like attracts like. It’s easy to hire someone who looks like you, thinks like you and acts like you. But it is rarely the best call for your business.

If I think of the strongest editors and salespeople I have worked with, it’s a coin toss as to whether or not I’d actually enjoy a beer with them outside of work hours. (And vice-versa, I’m sure.) It is not a reliable predictor of success, and immediately screens out a valuable pool of candidates who don’t check off a bunch of unimportant boxes.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult year on many fronts, but one of the real awakenings in 2020 has been around diversity and inclusion. In organizations, we’ve long known that unconscious biases are real — and detrimental — in sourcing talent.

Changing them has never truly been a priority. Sure, they get lip service in mission statements and employee handbooks with copied-and-pasted language from the Internet. Yes, HR professionals understood their importance and were inundated with study after study of the financial benefits of a diverse workforce.

But true, sustained behaviour change was not occurring on the front line.

Talent Canada magazine, which Annex Business Media launched in 2019, is on a mission to change that and give business leaders practical tools to make a tangible difference at their organizations at all levels. Recruitment is one of the best places to start.

With that in mind, we have partnered with CivicAction to deliver a practical hands-on webinar on diverse hiring practices on Dec. 2.

Tamara Balan, the COO at CivicAction, and Dean Delpeache, senior manager of talent acquisition at Flix Software, will be discussing ways to update your hiring practices to tap into a diverse, young talent pool and boost your organization’s bottom line.

The webinar is free, as are the tools that CivicAction have put together to help employers. Register today by going to https://www.talentcanada.ca/virtual-events/diverse-hiring-practices-virtual-webinar/

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