Although Hanna Neuborn, Global Head of Talent Science at Canonical, doesn’t believe she’s found the Holy Grail of finding the best talent, she feels it’s pretty close and has been effective for her company. 

At the start of 2023, Neuborn was integral in turning Canonical’s Talent Acquisition team into a Talent Science team. Canonical employs staff in more than 30 countries, the majority work remotely, and receives nearly 80,000 applications each month.

Neuborn felt that a better process to establish exactly which candidates would be the best fit for their business was needed so she brought together a team of psychology-based professionals to understand how to best predict performance – and it’s working. 

“Since pivoting to a talent science model, Canonical has seen a 50 percent increase in its “exceptional performers” in the last year, experienced a 45 percent increase in hires made, and seen nearly three times more applications than in 2022,” Nueborn shared with HR Daily Advisor. “And our company has been steadily hiring new team members through the economic downturn of the past several months without any layoffs. Canonical views hiring as a team effort and we haven’t been afraid to do things a bit differently, sometimes radically different.”

In this week’s HR Query, Neuborn shares insights on what Canonical is doing to reinvent the hiring process and hire the right people for the right job, as well as what organizations can benefit from to make better hiring decisions.

Here’s what she had to say.

How and why should companies stop panic-hiring?

HN: It is no secret that making a wrong hire is incredibly expensive for a business. Pressure to fill roles before they are removed from the budget is not uncommon in many organizations and leads to bad decisions being made.

Equally, the view that if a candidate has done well in another company, they are sure to do well here is a common mistake. We create a hiring plan that allows us to take our time and hold out for the best candidate even if this does mean it can take us longer to fill each role.

Having confidence in your process is imperative for success here.

Much of the tech industry has had a turbulent year and we have seen many organizations reducing their headcount and making redundancies. Our careful planning and meaningful hiring enabled us to ride this storm, which placed us in a pretty unique situation with no need to reduce team sizes or let our valued people go compromised by costs. It also enables us to attract and offer some great talent that other organizations simply did not have a place for.

Why is it important for companies to not get caught up in what their competitors are doing when it comes to hiring?

HN: Competing on the length of the process and time you take to assess a candidate serves no purpose for your own business. It becomes a race to get an offer on the table first based on an assumption that if the candidate is good enough for another organization, they are good enough for you.

When I put it like this, it seems slightly mad but that is the truth of how so many organizations make their decisions. It is also important that you give the candidates time to decide if you are the right place for them and if they are really committed to your mission.

For those who are, they will rarely get distracted from sales tactics from other organizations. So, providing you have an exceptional product story to tell and create a culture of outstanding talent, you can afford to be selective and take your time on decision making.

In any single industry, every organization will differ hugely in terms of culture and ways of working. These differences can see a candidate sink or swim even with an exceptional track record. You have to take time to understand what success really looks like and deeply embed this into your selection process.

Again, this is not just about technical competencies or company values but inherent behaviors and intrinsic motivation that drive a person’s success. Your hiring process must be unique to you. Too many organizations are afraid to break from this mold as they do not want to be seen as different.

What are a few ways companies can get decision-makers trained and on the same page?

HN: If you are going to allow your business to make and own their hiring decisions, it is an investment of time to make sure they understand the principles of what you are trying to achieve as an organization and how to run a fair and equal process. This will not happen overnight and will take time and commitment.

Building out a robust training program that delves into the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ is critical. As an example, last year, our hiring cohort went through a 12-week program to learn the art of hiring and to gain a deep understanding of what we need as a business and why we assess in the way that we do.

Recruiting is always something that most see as a hassle, and many try to cut some dangerous corners.

So, understanding your talent principles is critical to trusting people to make the right decisions. Our hiring cohort (just short of 200 people) all join a one hour call every Friday that I lead with our CEO to celebrate who we have hired that week, why we selected them as well as to talk about our process and principles as a group of professionals invested in our business.

How does Canonical utilize data to make sound decisions?

Our Talent Science team has a blend of experience from psychology and neuroscience backgrounds to programming and analytical skill sets. We follow the journey of all our applicants right through to their first 360 performance reviews then come right back to the process and data and see what we have learnt from the process.

We are tireless with this approach to ensure we are continually enhancing our selection strategies to get the best global talent we can. We look at our hires and what would have happened if we had changed the selection process slightly to work out if it would benefit us or if it would have meant we lost great talent.

It is a carefully tuned machine that we are running where the slightest tweak in the process can have a huge impact on the outcome.

How can companies make sure the information they’re collecting is serving a purpose and predicting the performance of a candidate?

HN: I would advise that the starting place is to gain a deep understanding of what makes someone successful at your organization. It is easy to focus on technical skills but this must also include the mindset and behaviors of the candidate. 

Leadership exists in every role at every level, and understanding what will make a great leader amongst peers led us to examine how fast a person picks up instructions, how they have self-reflected and learnt, how they have made decisions and how they collaborate with others. 

The outcomes of your assessment processes should be monitored carefully to understand what indicators and combinations of skills best predict how well someone will perform.

The post <strong>HR Query: How to Hire Top Talent</strong> appeared first on HR Daily Advisor.