To what extent does the rigor and due diligence applied to high-risk business activities translate to the acquisition of human capital?

Recruiting leaders, be it C-suite or Board members, can be an expensive business process, with costs escalating when it goes wrong.  Organisations measure assets, such as buildings, supplies and materials, also monitor production quality and audit costs and expenditures.  Why then should it seem unreasonable for organisations to invest time and effort developing and auditing procedures used in selecting and promoting the people who are responsible for doing all those things?

Up against the entirely appropriate logic for greater rigor in the selection process is the need for “speed to market for talent” with organisations often competing for the same pool of talent.   PWC “Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030” report that “competition for the right talent is fierce”.  In the speed to market for talent, organisations are facing challenges in locating, attracting and retaining talented people. In this fierce race one common theme is the desire to reduce the recruitment process cycle time because of the competition for candidates. 

The value of assessing and validating the skills and experience of people during selection is without question.  Though one might wonder why there is any question.  To what extent, in the race for talent, is the rationale for rigorous and diligent evaluation compromised?

There is evidence which shows that the use of properly validated candidate assessment procedures just makes good business sense and the spiralling costs when it’s the wrong appointment can create havoc, with disruption to morale, productivity, customer and market relationships and opportunity loss. 

First impressions can sometimes set dangerous traps that lead to the “halo effect” – the reaction that may surround a charismatic candidate leads subconsciously to an attraction which can positively bias the evaluation of the candidate’s skills. How often have organisations hired, on a candidate’s ability to impress as confident, articulate and eloquent, and lost focus on the more pertinent skills and attributes that a leader would need every day on the job.

The key is in drawing together data and information to more objectively validate accomplishments within their CV that brought them to the interview table. The application of a structured behavioural interview (with questions tailored to evaluate the candidate’s related skills against predetermined selection criteria) combined with (a minimum of 3) thorough referee checks (direct report, manager and peer) and media scans serves to validate interview impressions.

The application of personality or psychometric assessment at the next stage of the recruitment process enables greater insight into the candidate’s personality traits and motivators and adds a further dimension upon which to base the hiring decision.  Finally, qualification checking prior to an offer being made.  To what extent are organisations independently validating the conferral of qualifications cited by candidates?  Organisations should not merely rely on a copy of the documentation from the candidate but request a direct confirmation from the issuing body prior to appointment.

In summary, why compromise on a rigorous process which provides greater predictive validity of success.   Consider the costs – reputational, opportunity and financial.  Ensure your HR team and search partners don’t cut corners in their race for talent.

For more information please contact Christine Locher on 0438 388 510 or email

Christine Locher FAICD