Five Unique Ways to Widen Your Candidate Pool

Finding qualified candidates can be a challenge, especially when it seems like the same types of people are throwing their hat in the ring. The following tips can help you approach the hiring process from a new direction, realize new opportunities to widen your candidate pool, and ultimately streamline your hiring process.

A more diverse candidate pool means more options, and that means higher chances of finding an experienced and dedicated long-term employee.

Attract more candidates to your open positions while increasing the chances of filling those positions with the most qualified applicants by leveraging these tips:

Highlight Your Company Culture

One of the most important ways an organization can widen their candidate pool is to simply be transparent. Job seekers in today’s business world are looking for much more than just competitive compensation and benefits packages. They want to be part of a company that resonates with them on a personal level. Company culture plays a vital role in the hiring process.

According to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe strongly that a distinct company culture is vital to a business’s success.

Think of the aspects of your company culture, your workplace, and your team that make your brand unique, then leverage these as selling points when you post job listings and interview potential candidates.

Expand Your Hiring Criteria

Hiring can be difficult, and that’s why many companies are simply turning to recruiting services to handle it for them. In fact, about 40% of U.S. companies have turned to recruitment process outsourcers to find new candidates.

Consider the positions you’re trying to fill and think carefully about whether your posted criteria are too stringent. By lowering your hiring requirements a bit, you could be opening up your potential candidate pool by a wide margin.

Launch a Social Media Recruitment Campaign

The business world has a firm foothold in social media. Regardless of legalities, about 70% of employers use social media to screen potential employees.

Virtually everyone has some kind of online profile, so why not try to forge some meaningful connections with potential applicants?

Work with your marketing team or with your outsourced hiring specialists to come up with an effective social media strategy that targets people who resonate strongly with your company’s mission and values.

Get Creative With Job Postings

The average corporate job posting will attract about 250 applicants, but the company will likely only call a handful of those applicants for an interview.

Review the job postings you currently have open and try to read them from a job seeker’s perspective.

Does it read as a standard job posting, or does it offer potential candidates something unique? What type of language does it use? Are compensation and benefits details thorough and enticing?

Experimenting with new forms of job postings can have excellent results.

Work With a Talent Analytics Firm

After widening the pool, you need a process for finding the best applicant among a sea similar candidates. Investing in a new hire is both time consuming and expensive, so doing it right the first time can boost your efficiency and your bottom line. One way to make your hiring processes better is by using a talent analytics firm.

Find candidates who are suited to the position, fit in with company culture, and are in it for the long haul.

These tips can help your company rethink your hiring strategy and not only attract more candidates, but also increase the number of applications you receive from candidates who align with your company’s values, mission, and culture.


By |2021-10-27T22:28:54-04:00December 16th, 2019|Research, Updates|0 Comments

Five Recruiting Metrics You Should Know About

Recruitment metrics – the data behind your hiring lessons – outline which hiring methods are working for you and which aren’t.

Without assessing the value of your recruitment tactics as well as the performance of your new hire, you could be destined to repeat past mistakes – and that’s a price you pay from your bottom line.

The actual costs of hiring an employee vary depending on the industry and the employee level, but, on average, companies pay about $2,000 per new hire. And that’s just the onboarding process–interviewing and hiring costs add even more.

The point here is simple: the wrong hire can cost your business a lot of time and cash.

Which Recruitment Metrics Should Earn Your Attention?

Countless recruitment metrics are available to recruiters. You could get dizzy just trying to narrow them down from a Google search. However, leveraging these metrics can help ensure you make the best decision during the hiring process so that you don’t have to go through the process again. We’ve gathered a list of the most important metrics to consider and some information on how to measure each.

1. Quality of Your Hires

If you want to know the future, look to the past. Your business has a treasure trove of past data when it comes to hiring – your current and previous employees.

With a Quality of Hires metric, you’re not aiming at determining the general ability of your hire to do their job; instead, you’ll learn how effective your recruiting practices are at finding candidates who accept your job offer and are loyal to your company.

There are many ways to calculate Quality of Hire data. As an example, when using HireScore, we will send an email survey to the hiring manager or appropriate supervisor one year after an employee was hired. In about two minutes, we will collect ratings on the person’s overall performance, technical performance, team orientation and safety.

We summarize our survey with a simple question asking whether you would hire the person again. If yes, then we code the person as a successful hire. If no, then something went wrong and we use the data to learn from past mistakes.

2. Source of Your Hires

Most companies recruit in multiple arenas and use a number of search methods to find candidates. With today’s recruitment sources running the gamut from physical job boards and newspapers to social media and current employee referrals, it is more important than ever to know which sources are providing you with quality hires who are loyal to your company.

Whether tracking in HireScore or simply using a spreadsheet, you should be recording the sources of each hire as well as which candidates were rejected or shortlisted.

Analysis of each will tell you which resources are delivering and which are underperforming. This information can help you make better decisions regarding where to invest your time and money the next time you’re recruiting.

3. Time to Fill the Position

Time to fill is, simply, the amount of time elapsed between the listing of the position and the date of hire. While this metric is fairly straightforward, it can reveal a great deal about the efficacy of your recruitment resources as well as your productivity and efficiency.

Which sources tend to quickly produce good candidates? Which factors produce a bottleneck effect on your process? Time to fill can help you answer these questions and more.

4. Turnover

For some positions, the key metric to determine the success of your selection process is simply whether new hires stay in the job for a given period of time. If you are hiring summer help at an amusement park, you want to know if the person is going to last the full summer.

In some cases, you might even prefer to hire a person who may not perform the job as well but who is more likely to stay in the job.

To calculate turnover, take the percentage of employees who leave (for any reason) in a specified period of time and divide it by the total number of employees that you had in that role during the same period of time.

While turnover is a valuable metric, it is important to understand the context as well. If you lose 5% of your employees, but they are the bottom 5%, then turnover is actually a good thing.

In jobs with a high burnout rate, such as pro football coaching, some turnover is inevitable and is not necessarily a sign of failure. If, on the other hand, you are hiring sandwich makers at a fast food franchise and less than half of them stay for a month, then turnover should be your primary focus.

5. Cost Per Hire

While hiring better tends to have an extreme ROI, often in the hundreds or even thousands of percent, it is still useful to track up front investments. Determining which recruitment tactics are successful and which aren’t from a cost perspective is a key performance indicator.

At a minimum, any assessment or interview should have a significant positive ROI or it’s not worth doing. Tracking cost per hire allows you to determine where your recruiting budget is best spent and justifies your hiring related investments over time.

Calculate cost per hire by adding your total external and internal costs – including advertising, SaaS subscription fees, and cost to sustain recruitment staff – then divide by the number of hires the process produced.

Hire Better With These Metrics

While these five recruitment metrics are certainly not the only metrics you should be tracking to assess your performance, they are among the most important. Whether you’re most recent hiring decisions have proven successful, mediocre, or ill-fated, deeper insight into the many factors that led to each hire should be a key component in your next recruitment endeavor.


By |2019-12-02T10:31:10-05:00December 9th, 2019|Research, Updates|1 Comment

Got diversity? Trusting talent science is key.

As someone who has spent many years in a private sector global staffing company and in the public workforce system, I know how challenging it can be to help people who need jobs find jobs.

Even during times when we are all hearing about the “war for talent” and that it’s an “employee market,” there are talented, hard-working people who have difficulties finding their fit in the world of work. I’m not talking about the “unemployable”, those with little desire to work or major barriers which need to be addressed before they can do a great job – I’m talking about people with excellent skills, experience, and work ethic. People with abilities, and the desire to work. Veterans. Skilled factory workers or miners who lost their job due to a cutback or company closure. People wanting to change careers without knowing how to best translate their transferable skills to their resumes.

At the same time, I work with companies every day that struggle to find people to fill their jobs. Some companies rush to post a job with little preparation and make offers to find they have hired a talented person who does not fit with their culture. Some rely on systems which use keyword searches for specific skills and GPA cutoffs and then they wonder why their pool of candidates is so small.

As someone who sees both sides, there is much common ground. What it takes for different groups to see common ground is communication and education. A common need which is filled for both sides. Simple, right?

Companies want and need to increase their diversity. It gives them greater perspective, enhanced innovation and increased productivity. It brings a stronger culture, and builds a talent brand which, in turn, attracts more and better candidates.

Diverse groups of people (meaning all types of diversity including age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, work experience, etc.) want to offer their talents in a place they feel they fit. They want to grow on the job and in their careers.

How do we make the match? In part we need to have better communication and better data. By describing the job requirements more accurately we can broaden our pool and attract people who are more likely to fit the role. By following the data we may learn that instead of demanding a specific master’s degree for a job, the company might get a great fit with someone who’s done something completely different, but has demonstrated the character, intelligence, and work ethic to be successful. In other words, looking beyond the one to one fit that so often defines the recruitment strategy.

In addition to better communication between the organization and the candidate, we also need better communication about the candidate. Specifically, we need a comprehensive profile of the candidate’s personality, skills, knowledge and experience, and we need insights into where and how to coach them if we want them to grow into the position.

When looking to increase your diversity, realize that if you post widely, use a broad range of predictors, and combine the results of your assessments in a statistically optimal manner, you will naturally end up selecting people with a wide array of backgrounds without having to “force it.”

Included in your group will be people with interesting stories and life experience that will bring diversity, retention and higher productivity to your team.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00August 15th, 2017|Careers, Updates|0 Comments

Choice-Supportive Bias Gives False Confidence to Your Hiring Decisions

By Wendy Beach, VP of Talent Science Solutions at Stang Decision Systems

Spoiler alert: here comes some real-life science to distract you from the daily news! In all seriousness…there is beauty, I’ve found, in the science behind what helps our company match people to jobs and jobs to people.

Because it’s good to understand why we do things a bit differently, this blog on choice-supportive bias is our first in a series of discussing the relevant cognitive biases which prevent many people from making good hiring decisions.

Once we make a choice, we have the tendency to support that choice (dig in our heels, close our minds, stick our heads in the sand…insert your favorite saying here) even if it doesn’t make sense in the face of new information. Industrial psychologists call this choice-supportive bias, and it is one of many cognitive biases that affect our decisions.

I would argue that choice-supportive bias has become even more significant as our world has become more competitive and information leading to constant decisions is available at an ever-increasing pace.

What!? Isn’t it a contradiction to say that in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive business world the “status quo” is becoming even more ingrained in our personal and professional lives? I’d argue we are living in a world of “revolving status quo.” In other words, we try even harder to maintain normalcy and consistency in certain parts of our lives because other parts are changing so quickly.

The two main reasons for this are: (1) the increase in disruption via information and technology available at any moment; and (2) choice-supportive bias. The information and technology pushes us to change, and choice-supportive bias pushes us to lock in previous choices. The conflict between the two leads to pockets of rapid change and pockets of locked-in behavior. Oddly, this implies that rapid change in many areas of business run parallel to systems that may be archaic or obsolete.

Anyone in business, from manufacturing to service, has every moment of the day filled with constant choices and decisions. Since our company is focused on talent, I’m going to simplify this conversation (whew!) and emphasize the importance of resisting choice-supportive bias when attracting, retaining and developing talent. Specifically, I’m going to use the resume as a shining example of how cognitive biases can ultimately reduce decision accuracy.

“Eyeball to eyeball and a handshake.” Does anyone else feel a bit of nostalgia for the times when this was the way you decided if a person was a good fit for your team? In the 1940’s, believe it or not, the resume was a new trend, and it typically included weight, age, height, marital status, and religion (not very PC!). It became popular as companies grew and roles became more skilled or specialized. Resumes also helped as workers had more types of work experience and more geographic mobility. For a time, this was an improvement that made a lot of sense.

The reality of today, however, is quite different. In this fast-paced world, most people do not want to spend hours crafting the perfect resume. What if a good candidate simply doesn’t use the right keywords, or has a job title or education that doesn’t describe his or her full skill set? What if some candidates pay graphic artists and editors to make their resumes shine in a way that others never will?

From the perspective of the hiring manager, who wants (or has time) to spend hours sorting through hundreds of resumes–or worse–resumes with cover letters? Hiring managers and human resources staff are often faced with mountains of paper and/or electronic documents in varying formats, fonts, and length. Nonetheless, thanks in part to choice-supportive bias, the resume has become the default tool for evaluating candidates. Resume, cover letter, status quo, check.

When a “new” idea came along in the not-too-distant past to allow technology to help us with the tedious task of going through resumes, we didn’t start from scratch and look at what computers and data could truly do to elevate the process. Instead we, as a society, collectively held on to the “status quo” while adding an electronic layer. Our “choice-supportive bias” resume protocol was still intact, and the document was simply stored on a computer.

Resume parsing, keyword searching, arbitrary cut-offs of grade point averages…those were all born of using a computer to get through big stacks of documents faster. Did that increase our odds of a great fit? Actually, even though electronic applicant systems were perceived to increase efficiency, they quickly become talent pool limiters, and often increase inefficiencies when it comes to finding the most suitable candidates for a job. There are many internet forums that focus on how much candidates hate applicant tracking systems, and internal human resources staff tend to agree.

What if we used computers and data to help us get to know people better as a first step in a hiring process, not simply weed them out? Can computers really help us be MORE human?

You’ve probably guessed by now that using technology to make the hiring process more accurate and more “human” is our focus at Stang Decision Systems. Our clients are bypassing resumes altogether and working with new ways to see their candidates as a complete person. Curious how? We’d be happy to show you.

When the resume step is eliminated, we start to wonder why we held on to it for so long. Could it be that we’re simply human, with some pesky choice-supportive bias? I think so, but I’d love to hear other theories.

As with any limiting quality, we should not expect to be other than human, or beat ourselves up over it. What we can do, as intelligent decision makers, is become more aware of our biases and search for ways to overcome them. The human brain has a wonderful autopilot mode, but when decisions are truly important, we need to take the wheel and steer toward better options. That is truly progress beyond the status quo!

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00February 27th, 2017|Research, Updates|1 Comment

How’s the fit? Is your selection process resulting in “good” hires?

As I’ve talked about in a previous blog post, a primary goal that drives our work at SDS is to achieve a 90%+ selection process accuracy rate. In other words, we want more than 90% of the people who are hired through our tools to be considered “good” hires.

In order for us to determine whether we have met that goal, we need information about how well these people are performing on the job. However, collecting information about people’s on-the-job performance can get tricky. It’s not always easy to determine with confidence who is a “good” hire and who is not. There are many questions we ask ourselves which help us to trust our performance evaluation data:

  • What types of information do we use to determine whether or not someone was a “good” hire?
  • Whose input do we consider to be the most useful?
  • How is this information collected?

The answers to these questions are critical factors which help us when determining if our selection process is resulting in “good” hires. I’m going to focus this blog on explaining some of the most critical factors we consider when collecting performance ratings.


When supervisors are asked to make evaluations on their people, the context in which these ratings are gathered can dramatically influence the true accuracy of the evaluations. For example, if a supervisor is asked to make evaluations that will be used to determine pay and promotion, the supervisor may rate someone differently than if they were evaluating a candidate for purposes of determining future training. In either of these cases, there are motivations that affect how a supervisor evaluates their subordinates that may have little to do with making precise, accurate evaluations. These motivations may include factors such as maintaining the morale of the supervisor’s team, motivating people to improve in the future, or ensuring subordinates receive pay increases.

Because of these motivations, we prefer to not use ratings obtained within an organization’s performance appraisal system. Instead, we prefer to collect our own ratings with a survey that is ONLY used for purposes of evaluating the selection process. We let evaluators know that their ratings of each individual will not be seen within the organization, and will be used for research purposes only…which ultimately leads to continuous improvement in their selection process. By doing this, it allows supervisors to focus on making accurate evaluations of their people without having to worry about the implications of these ratings.


For many jobs, people are evaluated by objective criteria, at least in part. For example, a production worker in an assembly plant may be evaluated by number of products assembled; a police officer may be evaluated by number of tickets written; or a car salesman may be evaluated by number of cars sold. On the surface, these criteria seem very reasonable. However, as Borman points out, there are several reasons why objective criteria often do not accurately reflect someone’s true performance on the job.

First, objective criteria may only reflect a small part of one’s job (e.g. the number of tickets written by police officer). Second, when using objective criteria, someone’s performance is often dependent on factors that are outside of his/her control (e.g. production worker is dependent on many others when assembling products). Finally, the numbers obtained from objective criteria might be difficult to evaluate. For example, a car salesman at one store might sell the same number of cars as a salesman at another store, but the market for cars at these stores could be very different.

Ultimately, when using objective criteria as a performance measure, you need to diligently research how these measures are obtained in order to ensure that the information truly reflects the person’s performance.


When collecting performance ratings, the supervisor is often considered to be the person who is in the best position to make these evaluations. However, there is often value in collecting ratings from sources in addition to the supervisor. As many jobs are complex in nature and include working with people at all levels of an organization, ratings from sources such as peers, subordinates, customers, etc. might capture information about someone’s performance that isn’t reflected in supervisor-only evaluations. By collecting ratings from multiple perspectives, a more comprehensive portrayal of employee performance can be obtained.

Clearly, there are many issues to consider when collecting performance information. While the purpose of this article was to introduce some of the most common issues that we often wrestle with, we realize that each organization and each job has its own factors that need to be considered. As such, we realize that there is no perfect measure of how someone is performing, which in turn can make it difficult to determine who is a “good” hire. What we do know, through experience, is that following best practices for collecting performance ratings can greatly enhance the accuracy of this information.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:20-05:00July 12th, 2016|Research, Updates|1 Comment

6 Signs Your Employee Selection Process is Broken

In this blog series, Spencer Stang, PhD, discusses why organizations fail to hire better employees, and gives insight into what companies can do to make better hiring decisions.

Occasionally, conflicts arise between being honest and making somebody upset, or not being honest and keeping people happy. My rule of thumb in these cases is that truth trumps tact. I would rather have somebody tell me the truth rudely than to have him or her pass along a polite lie.

I’ll try not to be rude, but the truth is that your employee selection process is almost surely broken. You may have put a great deal of time and effort into your process, and you also, most likely, know that it still isn’t where it should be. Here are six of the most common reasons your process is broken, and what you can do to correct them. As with all generalizations, some exceptions apply.

1. You Require Resumes

For most openings your best candidates aren’t in job hunt mode. Many of the people you would want to hire don’t have a resume and won’t bother making a resume based on a job posting–no matter how enticing. The first step of the selection process needs to be so easy that the curious candidate just falls into it. People always tell us, “I wasn’t really looking for a job when I saw the posting.” These are the people you want to attract!

Clients will sometimes say they want the application process to be challenging (e.g. send resume to apply) because it eliminates people who are too lazy to make a resume. There is some truth in this notion, but it is misplaced at the beginning of the process. The employee selection process is a two-sided relationship, and before you ask anything significant of a candidate, you first need to prove yourself to him or her.

In other words, show the applicant that the job is real, the company is real, the opportunity is real, and demonstrate that he or she will be treated with respect. Once you have established yourself, then it’s okay to ask applicants to do any number of assessments as part of your due diligence, and the applicants will understand and respect the process. Bottom line, you don’t want to ask too much, too soon, and you always want to treat candidates as you would want to be treated yourself.

2. You Immediately Make Candidates Create a Username and Password

Imagine that I tell you that I hold the secret to success and happiness. I go on to say that by following three straightforward rules, you are statistically guaranteed to be more successful and happy than the average person. All you have to do to learn these rules is create an account with a username and password . . . and the username is your private email. You can imagine that only a small percentage of people are going to create the account, because it is likely to be a waste of time. What if instead of making an account, you only had to scroll down the page to read the rules to happiness and success?

In this case, most people would scroll down–if nothing else for the sake of curiosity. Furthermore, after you read the rules, if they actually made sense, and they had a basis in research, the credibility of the source would go up significantly. Essentially, the more you prove yourself, the more credibility you build, the more information, time, and money a person will trade with you.

Respect must be earned, and immediately asking a person to create an account is not a way to earn respect. To see this in your current process, look up the number of people who click on your job posting and compare it to the number of people who actually apply. Most companies get fewer than one in ten people, and half of that loss is due to the “create an account” initiation process.

3. You Don’t Communicate Consistently and Honestly 

Starting with the basics, if a person applies for a job with your organization, you should tell that person if he or she is no longer under consideration, and/or if the job is filled. If you don’t have the time to do this, then you don’t have the time to run a hiring process.

Note that in your communication process, it’s okay to tell candidates that the process is taking longer than expected, or that it has been put on pause for a time. Research suggests that when you don’t say anything, most people will actually assume that something is worse than the truth–so lean towards honest disclosure without getting into the gory details.

Finally, unless you work for the CIA, never lie. Don’t lie to make a candidate feel better or to cover for a mistake made by somebody on your staff. Don’t lie to keep your company from being sued. When you lie, it leads to a culture of lying that will ultimate hurt your HR team and organization.

4. You Collect Data on Candidates Who Have No Chance of Being Hired

In the era of Google and Facebook, data has never been more valuable. It’s so valuable that many organizations use morally questionable methods to get people to provide them with their personal information. Once you know that a person will not be hired, you should stop collecting data on that person as soon as it’s reasonably possible. Do NOT use the hiring process as an excuse to collect data that you or your applicant tracking system vendor thinks may be useful or valuable later. This is a creepy practice that is used by far too many organizations.

Most organizations with applicant tracking systems ask knockout-type questions as part of the process (e.g. are you at least 18 years old? Can you work in the U.S.? etc.). Some of these processes ask these questions after candidates have already provided an extensive amount of personal information (which is bad). Some ask these questions first, but then go on to collect personal information even if the applicant doesn’t meet the minimum qualifications (also bad).

By asking the knockout questions first and then eliminating people who don’t meet minimum requirements, we can respect each applicant’s time and personal information, and improve the legal defensibility of the entire process. The only thing that doesn’t happen by using a more respectful process is you don’t get to store gigabytes of personal data on unqualified applicants, that you are probably never going to use anyway (unless you actually are Google or Facebook).

5. Your Process is Not Customized to the Job

This is an easy one to spot. If you use the same selection process across your organization, then your process is definitely broken. To state the obvious, accountants, programmers, machinists, and programmers are all different. Asking applicants for different types of jobs to go through the same process either because it’s simpler, or because “corporate wants a standard process,” is not going to get you the accuracy rate your organization deserves.

It will also feel generic to applicants, who then may not take it as seriously. Your application process should ask different questions based on the job. If you use personality assessments (and you should), then you need to match the personality profile to the job. Additional assessments, including job knowledge testing and basic ability testing (math/reading) as well as the interview also need to match to the role.

Furthermore, the intensity of the process should vary based on the consequences tied to a bad hire. If you are hiring a maintenance supervisor at a refinery, the consequences of a bad hire could literally be life or death. In this case, it makes sense to put more time and effort into your process than you would if you were hiring a ticket taker at the local theater.

6. You Think Hiring is More an Art Than a Science

Over the course of my career, I’ve had many people tell me that hiring is “more art than science.” Typically, this happens when a person is about to hire somebody who has a relatively low probability of success on the job. In other words, it’s a catch-all excuse for not following decision science. I know this well because I’ve made the mistake myself. The very first person I ever assessed for a client interviewed extremely well, had a perfect background for the job, but tested very poorly (i.e., big red flag!). The client dismissed the test results and I went along with their assessment noting, “the tests aren’t perfect.”

Within six months, the new hire crashed and burned, and cost the organization a great deal of money. In hindsight, I should have known better, but I got caught up in the “art” of the process. My gut told me that this person was going to be great in spite of his test scores. I knew that statistically the tests were just as accurate as the interview process, and yet I put unwarranted weight on my own observations. Had I factored the test results appropriately, I would have made a different recommendation–the right recommendation.

This, of course, is just an anecdote, and anecdotes make for bad science. After having the opportunity to track hiring “exceptions” on a much larger scale, we have solid evidence that when it comes to predicting future job performance, science trumps art. When you hire someone who goes against the science, you are four times more likely to be hiring someone who is going to fail than if you hire someone recommended by the process (science).

In other words, you shouldn’t ignore your gut, but you also shouldn’t trust it. If you want to put probability on your side, your process should include properly validated and weighted measures of education, experience, soft skills, technical skills, aptitude, character, and personality fit. If you “feel lucky,” you can skip all that and opt for short cuts and trusting your gut. But I’m guessing that’s not a risk most organizations would knowingly want to take.

If your organization is already following the recommendations made in this post, then you are off to a great start. Next month we will focus on “Problem Seven” which gets into a more advanced diagnosis allowing you to optimize a process that is already working well.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:21-05:00June 14th, 2016|Careers, Research, Updates|0 Comments

A Job Candidate’s Journey Through the SDS Application Process

As most of us know, the job search and application process is not always fun nor easy. However, there are ways to make the process more efficient to save both the applicant’s time as well as the employer’s. One way to do this is to create an application that is split into several steps, and the process ends if the candidate is disqualified following any of those steps. This way, the candidate’s time isn’t wasted going through unnecessary steps if it is already determined that they are not qualified.

Another way is making the applicant assessment as accurate and specific to the job as possible so that, ultimately, the best-fitting applicant can be hired and have a better chance at succeeding in their new role.

As an employer, you may be wondering what our application process is like from the candidate’s perspective. In this article we will walk you through what it’s like to apply for a job through Stang Decision Systems’ hiring process.

Finding the Job

When a new job is created in the SDS HireScore Talent Portal, that job is posted to your company’s own custom SDS job board, to (our proprietary job board), and over 100 of the most popular job boards. The applicant sees the job posting on one of these sites, where they can then click the posting to get details about the job and apply.

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Applying for the Job

Once the applicant clicks through to the job application, they are greeted with a page asking the most basic questions for that particular job. These include questions concerning their highest degree earned, right to work in the U.S., and specific base skills required for the job.



The skill-related questions will require the applicant to answer on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 meaning “Expert” and 1 meaning “No expertise in this area.” This helps quickly determine the applicant’s proficiencies in several key areas.

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If the applicant passes this first portion of the of the job application, they move on to the Employment Application Form, which asks more detailed information about the applicant–including their education, work experience, and contact information.

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The applicant then continues on to the SDS Big Five Inventory, which measures the applicants’ behaviors in five specific areas: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Although this is a relatively short assessment (it takes about 20 minutes to complete), it yields powerful results to help paint a complete picture of the applicant’s behavioral traits as they relate to a specific job.

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Following the Big Five Inventory, the applicant will be taken to the final part of the application–the Situational Judgement Test–where they are asked a series of questions that put them into dealing with real-life scenarios for that particular job, and asks how they would respond. These questions gauge the applicant’s common sense problem solving and cultural fit as well as their competency in their particular field.

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Following the completion of this application, the applicant’s HireScore will be generated and ranked with the other applicants for this position. This score is determined by a customized, job-specific algorithm that weighs the values from this application against the optimal values for that particular job. The employer can then contact the top-ranking applicants and continue the hiring process.

Final Thoughts

After taking a sample SDS job application for an optometrist position, your humble correspondent had the following thoughts to offer on the process:

  • The application was straightforward and easy to understand. It was organized in a logical manner and did not ask any questions that felt out of place or too personal.
  • The Big Five Inventory personality assessment contained short and simple questions, but it was clear that the number of questions combined with their specificity would accurately reveal significant negative (or positive) personality traits.
  • The Situational Judgement Test for this application (in this case for an optometrist position) asked questions that seemed to have relatively obvious answers, but also questions that were more difficult and required specific knowledge–such as converting eyeglass prescription values from one format to another.

So there you have it. The SDS application process itself might not be entirely different from some of the other processes out there, but the customized and specific questions combined with the knowledge that the values from this assessment are weighed against the optimal values for this job and then combined to produce a single comprehensive score gave the feeling that this was a fair and accurate process that minimizes human bias. And this certainly would increase the confidence in the system for both applicants and employers alike.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:21-05:00June 1st, 2016|Updates|1 Comment

Achieving the “Sweet Spot” for Talent Science

In keeping with the theme of answering the questions I often receive when sharing our tools with companies and human resource professionals, I’d like to put the “Where does SDS work best?” question to rest. Usually people ask if we are best at finding high-level candidates for executive positions, or big numbers of entry level, volume, production workers. The answer is yes. To both—and everything in between.

It’s human nature to have the urge to quickly throw a new concept or idea into a familiar category, in order to understand it more easily and move forward more quickly. In our fast-paced world and overloaded minds, we want to say to someone “Oh, it’s like X,” so that we can cut to the chase and take action.

It’s understandable for that conversation to happen when someone first hears about Stang Decision Systems. I hear “Oh, you’re head hunters…you’re an applicant tracking system…etc.” That’s when a few well-known industry names come up. “We already use X, so we’re set, thanks.” However, I have to reply, “SDS is not like X.” That’s the point where some learning must begin, and to be honest, it’s not easy for many busy people to make a decision to create a new spot in their mind.

Sometimes it’s harder to NOT have direct competitors, because you have to spend a lot more time breaking ground educating clients. I’d like to think it’s lonely at the top. At SDS we do a lot of knowledge sharing, which ends up great when the light bulbs turn on for people and they start getting excited about something new, which can help them do their own job better. They become like excited prospectors who’ve struck gold. That’s the fun part…getting to see customers start becoming champions of what we do because they enjoy it and see the benefits to their bottom line and their culture.

So, to answer the “sweet spot” question, SDS does not fit into one category. What we do may seem too good to be true, but it’s true that our tools work for one hire or one-thousand hires—in nonprofits or for the manufacturing sector. We don’t simply track (why just track when you can rank?) We don’t “head hunt”–we look at the whole person. We integrate layers of proven methodologies and data-based tools with the human element of structured interviews and great communication.

The best part is that it’s been streamlined into an easy-to-use portal…much like an intuitive driver’s seat for a fun sports car or a pilot’s high-tech interface. The work happens in the background after we customize on both sides – the job analysis and the candidate application. The client can use as many or as few of the features available to them as they prefer, and the outcome is the same 95% hit rate on a great match for the job.

Since our process at SDS is to customize for the exact job, and then customize the application process, you can understand why we work for any hire. You need every hire to work best for you. Is YOUR sweet spot finding the right people for each of your open jobs? That’s where we fit in.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:21-05:00May 9th, 2016|Careers, Uncategorized, Updates|0 Comments

Marathon Petroleum Named America’s Best Employer by Forbes

One of our largest clients, Marathon Petroleum, was recently ranked Best Employer in America by Forbes Magazine. The list was compiled by Forbes by asking more than 30,000 U.S. workers employed by companies with more than 5,000 staff to 1) rank from zero to 10 how likely they were to recommend their employer to someone else and 2) rank how they felt about other employers in their industry.

The list included 500 employers from 25 different industries. Marathon Petroleum, headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, employs more than 45,000 people in the U.S. One of the key features to Marathon’s success was a significant turnaround of a Texas refinery that was plagued by an abysmal safety record and disgruntled union.

As Forbes details in their feature story on Marathon, the Texas refinery had a tragic past involving numerous disasters that killed and injured employees. Federal investigators cited a broken safety culture as the cause, where managers had a “check the box” mentality and were more “worried about seat belts” than outright catastrophes.

Marathon’s CEO Gary Heminger said, “We’ve taken our culture into that refinery. We’re going to operate it with the best safety and environmental skills available.” With a heavily unionized workforce, this was no easy task. However on the first day Marathon took ownership of the refinery, all of the plant’s workers were put through personal responsibility training, putting each and every employee in the mindset that they are collectively responsible for the safety of the organization. Managers were given more responsibility to make safety-related decisions without having to go to a higher level first.

“We collaborate; we do not compete,” said Connie Bradley, a refinery manager at Marathon. One of the key outcomes is that rather than profitability, the metrics for employee performance include safety and mechanical availability. “This leads you to a culture of preventative maintenance and of really looking after your assets,” said Heminger.

Lastly, ’employee grooming’ is a policy that Heminger works to maintain at Marathon. Employees aren’t pigeonholed into one position or another; rather, employees are given the opportunity to learn new skills and be put into positions where they may excel at better than their previous position. When an employee goes on vacation, “we will bring someone in from another plant to take a look at their job,” said Bradley. “The intent is to give them the opportunity to look at something different.”

Marathon Petroleum’s strategy of fostering a more effective culture of safety and responsibility was vital to the successful re-management of an catastrophe-ridden Texas refinery. It probably goes without saying that the single most important factor in making a strategy like this work is the quality of the people themselves.

Since 2005, Stang Decision Systems has been working closely with Marathon to help them hire and develop thousands of employees throughout North America, including: all operators and maintenance personnel at all refineries; all pipelines and TT&R non-salaried employees; all marine ops and maintenance employees; and various specialized roles including security, warehouse, lab techs, and sign makers.

We would like to congratulate Marathon Petroleum on being named Forbes’ Best Employer for 2015, and we look forward to being a part of their success in the coming years.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:21-05:00April 25th, 2016|News, Updates|0 Comments

Algorithms Beat Experts When It Comes to Hiring

The status quo is broken. Specifically, resumes, unstructured interviews, and combining predictive measures using professional judgment doesn’t work well. Over one hundred years of research in the area of industrial and organizational psychology supports this thesis, so I’m going to skip the basics and dive into the good stuff.

The good stuff, in my opinion, is more toward the cutting edge of decision science. We know that human beings, on their own, are imperfect decision makers. We know that well over 100 documented cognitive biases have an effect on our ability to make optimal decisions. We also know that many decision tools have demonstrated the ability to improve the accuracy of hiring decisions.

Job simulations, cognitive assessments, structured interviews, well mapped personality assessments, situational judgment tests, biodata, and physical ability assessments are all potentially valuable for predicting job performance. Moreover, when we combine the results from multiple job-related assessments in a statistically optimal, or even reasonable, fashion, the overall prediction is far more accurate, on average, than predictions made by experts who rely strictly on their “guts” to make these decisions.

To re-phrase the last sentence, algorithms beat experts at predicting future job performance. This general finding has been tested hundreds of ways with different types of predictions and different types of experts. The results are powerful, they are conclusive, and they are massively underutilized in the real world. We aim to help change that by including statistically optimal scoring generated by carefully derived algorithms with all of our assessment results.

So, for example, if you have a candidate who has taken three assessments, we will provide you with four scores:

Works Hard = 9.1
Works Smart = 6.4
Works Safe = 8.5
Baseline = 8.4

The first three scores indicate the individual assessment results and the final score indicates the overall score, appropriately weighted, across the assessments. We call this weighted composite score a Baseline score.

The Baseline score is the single best indication of a candidate’s probability of success on the job and Baseline scores are directly comparable across candidates. So, in a situation where different candidates have different strengths, the Baseline score can be used to quickly and accurately rank order the candidates in terms of their probability of success on the job.

Think about employee selection decisions that you have observed. Most hiring decisions come down to a person or group of people trying to compare candidates in an apples and oranges fashion. Candidate Joe has the most appropriate college degree for the position, candidate Sue has better job experience, candidate Pat had the best energy level in the interview, and candidate Kyle scored highest on the math test.

Who should you pick? How much weight do you put on each of these factors and how do you combine them to look at the “whole person” and compare that person to the needs of the job? Does a college degree really matter for this job? Is job experience at one organization easily transferable to another? Does “energy level” in a 30-minute interview suggest high energy on a day to day basis? Does “high energy” really matter if the person isn’t smart enough to be trainable?

People who have been involved in hiring decisions readily see that the complexity of most decisions quickly goes beyond our abilities. Fortunately, the human brain has wonderful mechanisms for dealing with complexity. One of these mechanisms is the use of simplifying strategies commonly referred by decision making researchers to as “heuristics.”

Our brain knows that, on average, a loud noise is more important than a soft noise. Things that smell good are more likely to be edible than things that smell nasty. A restaurant with many cars in the parking lot is more likely to be a good option versus a restaurant with few cars. In all of these cases the rule of thumb has some merit, but it is also likely to lead us astray at times.

Imagine that you are in charge of picking players for an NBA basketball team. There are lots of players from all over the world to choose from so you decide that you aren’t going to look at anybody who’s height is under 6’. You know that there are some great players who are less than 6’ tall, but you also know that you don’t have time to evaluate every player and by cutting out all people under 6’ your pool of candidates seems much more manageable.

Cutting part of the pool allows you to focus your time on players with the highest probability of success at the expense of a tiny proportion of great players who are under 6’ tall. This same scenario applies for any type of minimum requirement when hiring. Requiring 5 years of work experience, a 3.0 GPA, or a college diploma will simplify your hiring decision . . . at the expense of precision. What if we could simplify our options without losing precision . . . wouldn’t that be a better option?





As decision makers we face a dilemma. We need lots of data to make an accurate decision and we need to simplify that data to make sense of it. Simplifying is smart, which is why our brain does it automatically using heuristics. Over simplifying, however, is not smart and leads to many preventable mistakes, which is why we need a better way to make important decisions.

Algorithms provide the better way. An algorithm can efficiently combine data from a wide variety of measures in a fashion that minimizes data loss. An algorithm can be used to quickly and accurately rank order 7000 candidates in seconds and the results are far more accurate than if a team of people scour the same information for weeks. Algorithms can also be tracked over time and updated with improved algorithms.

Oddly enough we can model the decision making of experts using policy capturing studies, and the resulting algorithms are more accurate than the people they were modeled after (crazy, but true). In fact, we have modelled the decisions of NFL teams and created algorithms that rank order NFL draft prospects. On average, these algorithms are 36% more accurate than the selections made by actual NFL teams. We’ll get into the details of why this is true in future blog posts, but the simple explanation is that algorithms are extremely consistent whereas humans, even expert humans, are not.

So, when you think about humans being beat by algorithms, how do you react? Anger . . . “they” can’t be better than us! Fear . . . what are people going to do if the algorithms start making all the decisions? Disbelief . . . what does this guy know, he’s just a guy writing a blog. Or amazement . . . imagine the great things people could do if they improved their decision making when making life changing decisions! Many years ago I was a bit irritated that computers were beating Chess champions and, much later, Jeopardy champions. Today I have come full circle and I am simply amazed that people can build machines, computers, and algorithms that make people better at doing things they love to do.

Just as a bulldozer amplifies the power of a person and allows her to move more dirt faster than a hundred people digging with their hands, algorithms allow us to make faster, more accurate decisions in a less biased manner. The initial fear and pushback against using algorithms to improve our decision making is both understandable and irrational.

Let’s get over it and start making better decisions.

By |2018-03-07T16:37:21-05:00February 8th, 2016|Research, Updates|2 Comments