How to develop a performance based hiring strategy

How to develop a performance based hiring strategy

Performance-based hiring is exactly what it sounds like—a process used to find and hire top talent.

Lou Adler, president of The Adler Group, a training and consulting firm, is often accredited with developing this methodology. Here we look at this and other techniques to develop to help you streamline your hiring processes to get the best talent for your business.


Define what you’re looking for

Some employers approach hiring by coming up with a list of qualifications, the required level of experience, academic achievements, personality characteristics, and skill sets, you get the idea. But this approach can be considered flawed because all of those points only serve as indirect predictors of success.

From another angle, being able to directly predict someone’s success is actually very easy. You can start this by making a list of the things you would like them to actually achieve on the job and capturing them in your performance-based job description. 

Compare if the candidate has completed tasks like these in a similar environment. If the answer is yes, then driving for proof in these areas is really all you need to predict their success on the job. 

Don’t limit your candidate pool

Typically, hiring managers target the “active” pool of candidates, ie people that are actively searching for employment. While this may seem like a solid tactic, it actually eliminates a large portion of other talent. Consider these statistics:

It is estimated that 15–20% of professionals are open-minded about new opportunities, but not actively applying for them. Another 60–75% of people are defined as “passive candidates”— individuals content with their current roles, with no intention for change.

Lou Adler suggests organizations implement a ratio of 2:1 passive to active candidates for the optimal sourcing mix. Be aware that it takes time to nurture them, so be prepared to build relationships over an extended period of time. Don’t forget that leveraging your company’s employee referral program is also an excellent source of talent.


Conduct an “evidence-based” interview

Many think the most important aspect of any hiring process is the interview. But, if you fail to ask the right questions, you won’t really know if a candidate will be a good fit for your needs. The solution? An evidence-based interview.

With your performance profile in mind, ask your candidates about their major professional accomplishments. If your candidate is a top performer, they’ll most likely have a proven record for success.

Ask for examples of past achievements around the goals you have outlined in the performance profile. Be specific, keep an eye out for metrics, specific examples, and work examples.

Offer a differentiated candidate experience

The best candidates will be frequently approached that will follow a similar pattern. The job title, the location, the salary and the company it’s with. But these factors are not what drives a candidate’s ultimate decision—people make the decision to leave a comfortable role because they see a new position as a positive career move and a new challenge

You need to lead by asking if they’d be open to exploring an opportunity that’s better than what they have today. If they say yes, this has immediately established that they are open to a move and means they have in fact taken the first step.

Focus on areas such as job stretch, career progression, job growth and job satisfaction, if the candidate agrees, it is a great sign. If you get a good match the candidate may well try to convince you that they are right for the job and you know you are onto a ‘win win’ situation.

In summary

That’s the basis of the performance-based hiring method. Start with a crystal-clear understanding of the job’s outcomes and know the market. Make sourcing decisions accordingly, and look for evidence from candidates for the ability to do the job, whilst also adding value to them.