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The Science Behind Talent Attraction and Designing Interviews Truly Predictive of Future Job Performance

The Science Behind Talent Attraction and Designing Interviews Truly Predictive of Future Job Performance


Software companies can improve talent attraction while designing an interview process that’s truly predictive of a candidate’s ability to deliver on the job. 


There’s an enormous amount of research and empirical evidence out there that details exactly how you can build a more predictive hiring process for software professionals. But the tech industry and hiring managers at large have all but completely ignored this guidance, relying instead on antiquated hiring processes that have actually proven to be anything but effective.


This paper will build a case for revamping your hiring process around a methodology that’s been proven to attract and deliver better Software Consultants, Developers, and Sales professionals with the skills required to be successful on the job.


“Employers must make hiring decisions; they have no choice about that,” writes Frank Schmidt and John Hunter in their study The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods In Personnel Psychology.


“But they can choose which methods to use in making those decisions. The research evidence summarized in this article shows that different methods and combinations of methods have very different validities for predicting future job performance.”


“In economic terms, the gains from increasing the validity of hiring methods can amount over time to literally millions of dollars,” writes Schmidt regarding the importance of valid assessment methods. “However, this can be viewed from the opposite point of view: By using selection methods with low validity, an organization can lose millions of dollars in reduced production. In a competitive world, these organizations are unnecessarily creating a competitive disadvantage for themselves. By adopting more valid hiring procedures, they could turn this competitive disadvantage into a competitive advantage.”

While the economic and business benefits of making better hires seem obvious, it’s altogether shocking that so few companies in the tech industry have taken a deliberate approach to designing a candidate sourcing and interviewing process that’s truly valid and predictive.

Before we look at which hiring activities are truly predictive, let’s look at some of the common pitfalls that the vast majority of the tech industry has succumbed to with their current hiring strategies.


Chances are your process for hiring software professionals follows a familiar pattern—you post a job on the company website or or other job board, collect resumes, conduct a series of unstructured interviews, and check references before making a job offer.

There’s no easy way to say this, but this is exactly what doesn’t work! These activities have shown to be almost completely useless when it comes to attracting top talent or predicting the future success of a hire. Let’s look at them one by one.

Job postings and your company website are inherently flawed.  The chances of your next ideal hire encountering or applying your ad are slim to none.  The reason is even more simple than you might think…

The truth is that the candidates poised to make the most significant positive impacts to your organization are not surfing the web or applying to job ads online.  They are busy creating results for your competitors!

Reaching this key audience becomes paramount.  Selecting your next employee via passive talent attraction methods is like making life or death decisions about your company based on inherently flawed information.


After surveying over 50 organizations in the Warehouse Management and Supply Chain software industry, we have concluded that a proactive candidate attraction strategy provides the most complete candidate pool to select from and consistently raises the overall quality of hire regardless of the role.


Unstructured vs Structured Interviews

Unstructured interviews

Unstructured interviews have no fixed format or set of questions to be answered. In fact, the same interviewer often asks different applicants different questions. Nor is there a fixed procedure for scoring responses; in fact, responses to individual questions are usually not scored, and only an overall evaluation (or rating) is given to each applicant based on summary impressions and judgments.

Sound familiar? Structured interviews are exactly the opposite.

Structured interviews

Questions to be asked are usually determined by a careful analysis of the job in question. Every candidate is then asked the same questions and their answers are scored objectively using the same rubric.

As a result, structured interviews are more costly to construct and use but are also more valid. In contrast, the much more commonly employed, somewhat free-formed nature of an unstructured interview quickly becomes highly prone to confirmation bias.

“We subconsciously form an opinion about things, and let that influence our decision making. This is dangerous!” writes Benhardsson. “You start to like a particular candidate a lot for whatever superficial reason, you drop your guard, and start giving them more hints or give them the benefit of the doubt in a way that some other candidate wouldn’t get.”


A highly structured interview is the main remedy, as the structure of the interview helps the hiring manager maintain a higher degree of objectivity. “This has been shown to make interviews more reliable and modestly more predictive of job success,” writes Dana. “Alternatively, you can use interviews to test job-related skills, rather than idly chatting or asking personal questions.”



The Secret Sauce: Pro-Actively Sourced Candidate Pools, Work Samples, and Highly Structured Interviews

Now that we’ve detailed the common hiring practices that hold little predictive power, it’s time to share what actually works. Proactive candidate attraction vs passive, previous work samples, and highly structured interviews have all been proven to have truly predictive power when it comes to making great hires.