By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

Traditional methods of hiring in North American business are inherently flawed.

They tend to provide hiring decision-makers with flawed and unreliable information from a variety of sources. This information is then processed in an equally flawed and unreliable decision process, leading to a decision that, statistically, is not based on anything that reliably predicts success in a job.

Let’s begin by considering the information on which we rely and the quality of that information. Most hiring processes begin with a standardized application that is used to gather basic historical information about an applicant which includes who, what, when and where kinds of questions regarding what the applicant has done in the past – much of which has little to do with what he or she might do for us. In some situations, we may also have a resume to work with, often the product of a professional resume writer. As a whole, what is the quality of the information we are considering?

The most definitive answer to this question was provided by a series of studies published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Summarized, their conclusions add up to this: More than half of applicants lie or exaggerate in applications and resumes! We would add another critical observation: We don’t know which part is lies!

In the traditional practice, what do we do to try to improve this flawed information?

We check references. Unfortunately, reference checking is prone to all of the same flawed information of applications and is both hard to obtain and time-consuming. A serious argument could be made that this process adds little useful information to our cache.

Finally, to complete the information gathering, we use that time-honored tool of the hiring process, the interview.

Consider these facts gathered from a variety of studies by SHRM and other sources:

  • 63 percent of all hiring decisions are reached in less than five minutes of interview time. The next 25 minutes we spend does not change or improve this decision.
  • Interviewers have less than a 15 percent chance of identifying lies from application information in an interview.
  • Interviews predict job success only 14 percent of the time.
  • Demographic variables such as age, race or gender influence interviewer judgments.

Consider a few other facts contributing to faulty decisions in hiring:

  • Once we make up our mind, we are extremely resistant to change.
  • Things do not always work the way we think they will.
  • We are trained to draw conclusions from fragments of information.
  • Our perceptions influence our reality, and perception is flawed.

Practical Response to the Challenge:

Two components can help overcome the multiple challenges described in the previous section:

  1. Introduce as much good, accurate, reliable, valid information into the process as you can.
  2. Reduce dependence on flawed decision-making processes by applying a systematic, verifiable and reliable structure to the process.

The first point is remarkably easy to accomplish, using valid, reliable, legally defensible assessments. The second point is remarkably difficult to accomplish, because it requires giving up well-established (but counterproductive) habits in which we tend to be deeply invested.


Across businesses, across job titles, across the continent, results of applying these two components have been remarkably consistent:

  • Turnover goes down.
  • Cost of the hiring process diminishes.
  • More hires become “Top Performers”.
  • Profits increase.
  • Businesses become more profitable.
John Borrowman