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Why “Best” Isn’t Always Better When It Comes to Hiring

When is “best” not always most desirable? When it comes to hiring. The evidence is mounting that the candidate with the best technical skills and experience may not always be the best person to hire, especially in highly collaborative roles.

The work of University of Michigan’s Professor Scott Page indicates that hiring the “best” people can lead to the least creative results, often because everyone on the team is so alike. In other words, to create a winning team, you need to aim for a diverse team.

The Benefits of a Diverse Team

Many studies have pointed out that diversity leads to better organizational performance. As far back as 2015, McKinsey’s Diversity Matters report found companies in the top 25% for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. In 2017, Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse leadership teams had a higher percentage of revenue related to innovation.

Recently, LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends 2018 identified diversity as the most influential of trends shaping the future of recruiting and hiring. More than three out of four (78%) recruiters and hiring managers responding to the survey indicated their organization prioritizes diversity to improve culture; 62% said they’re pursuing a diverse workforce to improve company performance.

What’s interesting to note are their challenges to improving diversity:

  • 38% said finding diverse candidates to interview was the main barrier
  • 27% indicated retention of diverse employees as the main challenge

So, if the best candidate isn’t always the best hire, how do you ensure you’re bringing in the talent your organization needs? Here are four strategies to consider.

4 Recruiting Strategies for Hiring the Better Candidate
  • Have a deep discussion with your hiring manager right away.Clarify his or her expectations for what makes a candidate the “best” for that particular role. It’s important to define this up front, or recruiters will be likely to provide the candidate with superior skills and experience, but perhaps not the best candidate for the role.
  • Examine the job description. As it’s currently written, does it list too many requirements, thereby narrowing the pool of talent who will apply? Is the language inclusive? Does it encourage a range of candidates to engage with your organization?
  • Involve team co-workers in the process. Ask the hiring manager to get the entire team involved in shaping the definition of a team player in this role. If possible, have co-workers participate in the interview – they’re well-positioned to see who may or may not complement the rest of the team, and they may offer a perspective different from the hiring manager. Consider using interviewing technology to hold a live panel interview that connects all the players in an easy, convenient way.
  • Socialize job postings. Use the power of social networks to increase diversity within your talent pool.