Benchmarking is one of the most effective ways to improve operations at an organization. By knowing what the baseline is, it becomes much easier to figure out what needs to change, and what’s doing really well already. Of course, that’s all common knowledge when we’re talking about sales and operations – but what about hiring?
Benchmarking works for the hiring process as well. By setting and using benchmarks in your hiring process, you’ll save on recruitment costs, you’ll improve time-to-hire, and you’re more likely to find the right fit – which reduces turnover in the long run.
If you’re not already using job benchmarks in your hiring process, here’s how to start:
Step 1: Establish Jobs To Benchmark
First, you have to figure out which jobs you want to benchmark. Depending on your resources and bandwidth, it may not be possible to benchmark every role in your company. Plus, you might develop new roles over time. Start with positions that seem to hire more frequently. In some organizations, maybe that’s a Sales role. In others, you might need to set benchmarks for your Web Developer roles. Whatever fits with your hiring goals right now.
Step 2: Establish Benchmarks
Consider going beyond simply identifying education and experience: what kind of personality should they have? Should they be relaxed or driving? Social, or more analytical? Comfortable with being in charge, or would they rather have tasks delegated to them? These are the more critical pieces that can help you figure out if your new hire is going to stick or not.
You can establish these benchmarks in one of three ways:
Individual Method: Someone in your organization, with an understanding of the job being benchmarked, establishes the requirements for the job. This option is great if you don’t have a lot of bandwidth to get this done, but you do risk incorporating some bias, since it’s the opinion of just one person.
Stakeholder Method: In this version, multiple people associated with the job establish requirements, and the resulting benchmarks is a composite of all responses. Ask superiors, direct reports, teammates and more about what might be required. This takes more time to complete, but it reduces the amount of bias in the resulting benchmark.
Top Performer Method: Identify top performers who are already in the role, and have them establish requirements. If they’re the best you’ve got, they might have particular traits that have helped them rise through the ranks. Again – this takes more time than the Individual method, but there’s next to no bias, since the information is coming right from the source.
Pro Tip: This is really easy with the McQuaig Job Survey. Check it out!
Step 3: Interview & Assess (With Benchmarks In Mind)
Your benchmarks are ready to go, but the hiring process has to truly incorporate them to be effective. No use setting benchmarks about key personality traits, and then simply focusing on experience in the interview. These things have to go hand-in-hand. As you speak with each candidate, make sure your questions involve the particular behaviours and personality traits you need for someone to be successful in the role. Listen for their answers, and determine if this is a positive or negative example of the traits you’re looking for. All traits have pros and cons, so you’ll want to make sure your candidates are applying them in a way that makes sense for your organization.
Step 4: Compare Against Benchmarks
This works best with a tool like the McQuaig Job Fit Analysis report, but you can do it on your own if you’ve really built your job benchmarks into the hiring process. Analyze your top contenders against the benchmark you initially set out, and make sure to incorporate their interviews answers, your observations, and their references’ answers into the equation.
The University of San Diego uses job benchmarking to help guide its real estate students. Download the free case study.
Education and experience are certainly important elements in making your hiring decision, but the personality traits you uncover through job benchmarking can make the difference between a short-term and a long-term employee. We’ve always recommended going against gut-feel, and by setting job benchmarks, you’re adding another tool into your arsenal for more in-depth, impactful hiring decisions.