What Talent Acquisition Needs to Know About Quality of Hire: The Connection Between Workplace Misconduct and Quality of Hire

Quality of hire is a hot topic for companies today. HR.com’s The Future of Recruitment Technologies in 2023 reported that quality of hire is a top concern and priority in 2023. Similarly, Aptitude Research’s 2023 Talent Acquisition Technology Buyer’s Guide found that improving quality of hire was the #1 key driver for investing in TA Technology.

Despite its importance, hiring teams are struggling to define, measure, and improve quality of hire. It’s challenging because, in truth, a good-quality hire can mean dramatically different things depending on the industry, organization, and even position. In this article, you’ll learn the data points, best practices, strategies, and technologies that help companies define, measure, and improve quality of hire.

What is Quality of Hire?

Last week, we partnered with ERE Media on a webinar: Improving Quality of Hire by Evaluating Candidate Behavior. Talent Acquisition experts Keirsten Greggs, Robin Schooling, Freesia Chen, and Ben Mones joined together to help organizations define quality of hire, adopt new strategies and technologies to support enhancements, and even share some of the HR horror stories that organizations face when they hire employees that aren’t high-quality humans.

Collectively, the experts defined quality of hire as a measure of how well an employee can perform the responsibilities of the job well, be an engaged member of the team and organization, can level-up and add value to the team, and will remain at the organization for a substantial period of time.

The Evolution of Talent Acquisition: Why Quality of Hire is Important?

Aspect43’s Insights at Work in 2022 report shared that hiring was the #2 priority of HR and Talent Acquisition teams, according to 51% of companies. The report shared two of the biggest challenges talent teams faced were #1 around not being able enough to get enough applicants, and #2 not being able to find enough applicants with the right skills.

After significant layoffs between Summer 2022 and Spring 2023, there are a lot more candidates on the job market. And, now, hiring teams have to sort through large numbers of applicants to find the qualified, quality, and best candidates for each position.

This is quite a shift in focus considering many companies have spent the last decade focusing on talent attraction, according to Aptitude Research’s 2023 Buyer’s Guide. Now that organizations invested in employer branding and recruitment marketing to attract talent, the attention is turning back to quality of hire.

This evolution is for good reason, too. HR.com’s The Future of Recruitment Technologies in 2023reported that only 1 in 4 companies would rehire 80 to 100% of the employees they hired in the past 12 months. Even more, Aspect43’s Insights at Work in 2022 research found that 1 in 5 companies reported large numbers of new hires leave within the first 60 days.

Two Major Disconnects in Quality of Hire

While a candidate may look good “on paper,” much more goes into finding a true quality candidate—someone that will not only perform the job well but will also work well with the team. Many times, candidates who are qualified to do a job might lack the honesty, integrity, and ethics required to be a positive member of the team and exemplify a company's code of conduct.

This opens organizations up to risks of internal conflicts and workplace misconduct issues, which is why it’s so important to look beyond qualified hires and hire high-quality candidates. It’s also why companies should be thinking about workplace misconduct as a quality of hire issue.

#1. The Difference Between a Qualified Hire and a Quality Hire

While it might seem counterintuitive at first, quality of hire is more than just about qualifications. Sure, a candidate must be qualified. They must be able to fulfill the responsibilities of the job as well as have the right credentials, experience, skillset, and knowledge required for the role they are applying for.

But, a good-quality hire is even more than that.

By the definition of “quality of hire” above, a quality hire must be qualified, as well as have the other strengths, skills, interests, and behaviors to become a positive, productive, and engaged member of the team. Just because a candidate is qualified does not mean they are a quality candidate. Qualified does not encompass adherence to a company's code of conduct. It is solely focused on the skills required to get the job done.

#2. Uncovering the Hidden Connection: How Workplace Misconduct Affects Quality of Hire in Talent Acquisition

What is Workplace Misconduct?

At its core, workplace misconduct is a violation of a company’s code of conduct in a way that harms the company. Misconduct comes in many different forms – common issues include occupational fraud, theft, corruption, violence, bullying, bribery, threats, harassment, and discrimination.

The repercussions of these actions are severe, with organizations losing a considerable portion of their annual revenues and suffering reputational damage. This harm can be in the form of creating a toxic or hostile work environment - leading to significant employee turnover, a lack of productivity, and declining engagement. Or, it might look like reputational damage - companies making headlines for their unethical or illegal behavior. Even worse, it can lead to costly legal action and financial damages.

Whatever the consequence may be, it isn’t good. It isn’t quality.

How Does Workplace Misconduct Impact Quality of Hire?

Workplace misconduct can be committed by anyone in or associated with the organization. It can be done by employees, executives, investors, contractors, vendors, or even influencers and brand ambassadors. With the stakes so high - reputational, legal, and financial - it’s important for talent professionals to think about workplace misconduct during the hiring process.

For example, you wouldn’t want to be the person who hired the museum payroll manager who was charged with stealing $2 million in a 13-year-long fraud scheme. Or, the executive search firm that placed the former Wells Fargo executive who pleaded guilty to creating fake bank accounts and harming customers. And, you definitely wouldn’t want to be on the JPMorgan team that gave the green-light to acquire a $175 million startup that was accused of fraud.

Instead of bringing people into the organization who are okay with breaking the rules and putting your people and company at risk, talent professionals can choose to be one of their organizations’ first lines of defense by hiring people who comply with the company code of conduct.

How Talent Acquisition Experts Measure Quality of Hire

Measuring quality of hire is just as hard as assessing it. There is no universally-accepted formula. And, many HR technology solutions don’t have a single quality of hire metric. Nor do most organizations have the same company codes of conduct.

That said, the experts on the ERE webinar shared several data points they use to measure quality of hirethroughout their hiring processes.

Chen looks at key communications indicators like how they respond to emails, how they prepare for interviews, do they understand the role and responsibilities of the job, and do they have the right skills to do that job.

Greggs adds the importance of tailoring data points to the specific role being hired for. For executive roles, for example, she looks for behavioral queues around leadership abilities and a team focus. For entry-level positions, she assesses basic capabilities, learnability, and attitude.

Beyond levels, different industries and positions within require different metrics. Truck drivers, for example, should have a clean driving record, lawyers should be in good-standing with the designated bar, and financiers should have solid credit histories and shouldn’t be committing financial crimes.

As a leader and hiring manager, Mones combines some old school data points like eye contact and firm handshakes where appropriate with newer measures around workplace misconduct, which he gathers from online screening solutions. He does this because he wants to understand if people are violating his organization's company code of conduct publicly online. so he can get an idea of how they will show up in the workplace – i.e. if they are bragging about stealing online, why wouldn’t they do the same at his company??

As organizations strive to examine the effectiveness of a recent hire, it's essential to look into a number of data points that span the spectrum of job performance, skill sets, and the ways people interact with others.

How to Improve Quality of Hire

As hard as it is to measure quality of hire, improving it isn’t a walk in the park. Employers must have a hiring process that allows them to fairly assess candidates skills, capabilities, and be free of workplace misconduct issues. It requires a diverse group of decision makers and decision-influencers involved throughout the process. And, it’s always helpful when technology can help automate and gut-check our decisions throughout the process. Here are some tips for putting the right process and tech stack in place to assess and improve quality of hire.

Strategies and Tactics to Improve Quality of Hire

In terms of strategies, there are several things our hiring experts recommended throughout the webinar. The experts shared the following tips:

  1. Intake Procedures: Making sure everyone is on the same page at the start of the hiring process is important. This is when it’s important to define the open role, scope of responsibilities, any criteria that is required for the position or team, as well as the time to talk about process and expectations.
  2. Panel of Decision Makers and Influencers: While most of the time, the hiring manager has final say on who gets hired. Chen mentioned that she built the Fama hiring process to ensure there is not a single decision maker. This allows the hiring team as a whole to assess candidates for different needs across the business, outside of a specific role or team.
  3. Structured Interviews: Structured interviews are a great way to ensure that companies are fairly evaluating candidates throughout the hiring process. This type of interview simply means that all the candidates are asked the same questions in the same order, usually by the same people. This allows each decision influencer or decision maker to compare answers. It also ensures interviewers don’t ask illegal interview questions and create a poor candidate experience.
  4. Diversified Interview Panels: Another tactic that helps companies fairly assess quality of hire is to have a diverse panel interviewing candidates. This is a great way to gain several perspectives on each candidate, show candidates how diverse your organization is (which is something candidates care about), and also allow the hiring team to see how candidates treat different interviewers. If a candidate is rude to women employees but nice to the men employees, that may be a great indicator of potential discrimination and misconduct.
  5. Evaluate Candidate Behaviors: In the webinar, Chen and Greggs noted that it’s important to evaluate how candidates behave throughout the process. Do they respond to emails timely? Send thank you notes? Are they polite or rude to each person they interact with? Noting, small interactions can tell a lot about candidates.

Using Talent Acquisition Technology to Assess Quality of Hire

In addition to strategic processes and best practices, having a comprehensive tech stack is essential to assessing, measuring, and improving quality of hire. A robust HR tech stack should include several different kinds of solutions to assess quality including a mix of video interviews, pre-hire assessments, background checks, reference checks, drug tests, as well as online screening for workplace misconduct.

Each of these solutions is great for specific use cases and serve various purposes within a hiring process. Background checks are great for verifying identity, credentials, as well as education, work, criminal, and financial history. References are great for leveraging past workplace behaviors as a data point to assess potential future work behaviors. Video interviews make it easy to interview candidates in today’s remote and hybrid workers. And, pre-hire assessments provide insight into candidate’s behaviors, skills, and even handwriting.

All of these help assess whether someone is a quality candidate, but none of them do a great job at surfacing potential workplace misconduct issues. That’s why adding online screening for workplace misconduct can be a powerful addition to the TA tech stack.

Online screening solutions identify potential instances of workplace misconduct through compliance filters aligned with an employer’s code of conduct. By compliantly searching thousands of public online data sources for misconduct like violence, threats, fraud, harassment, sex, and drugs employers can now add another dimension to quality candidates. More importantly by using a third party provider protected class information is filtered out, candidate consent is a requirement, and candidate privacy is protected - so no searching private or deleted profiles.

The Future of Assessing Quality of Hire With Talent Acquisition Technology

While the solutions above can be an indicator of qualified and quality hires, each also has some cons - especially as people get smarter and technology advances over time. For example, reference checks are great for a quick peek into a job candidate’s work life, many candidates only share references from people they know will deliver a strong review. At the point in time where deepfakes can be created for an insignificant cost, how long will it take video interviewing tools to be able to tell the difference between an AI bot and a human? Similarly, how good will behavioral assessments be now that ChatGPT can pass the MCAT and get into medical school? It’s important to look at our tech stacks in the larger and broader context of the world we currently live in - and the future.

Similar to the way video interviews and behavioral assessments look for certain indicators of job success, online screening has the potential to help companies create ideal candidate profiles that compare traits of a company’s top performer to a slate of candidates. This is done all the time in the context of advertising solutions helping customers identify and target their ideal customers - and there’s similar potential with online screening solutions, as well.

Mones outlines this potential in his recent research, How Online Screening Impacts Quality of Hire, which he shared on the ERE webinar. Through what’s called a “professional affinity map,” online screening solutions will soon be able to identify key qualities that contribute to the success of top performers and identify candidates with similar leadership abilities, collaboration styles, empathy, and, of course, a lack of online misconduct.

Outside of assessing quality of hire, companies need help measuring it. Luckily, there are advanced talent intelligence solutions on the market that tie all kinds of hiring, employee, and performance metrics to help measure and monitor quality of hire.

Together, this tech stack can provide a holistic support system to help hiring teams understand their candidates and make the best hiring decision for each position.

Conclusion

While many companies have long-considered quality of hire to pretty exclusively search for the most qualified hires, the truth is there’s so much more to hiring “the best person for the job” than job qualifications.

Today’s hiring teams must understand that being qualified is just one qualification of a quality hire. And, there are other factors that must be considered when thinking about hiring a great-quality candidate like workplace misconduct issues.

While in the past, workplace misconduct wasn’t one of those factors, the most strategic hiring teams are adjusting to incorporate workplace misconduct screenings into their candidate evaluating and selection processes. This is helping companies foster trust with existing employees, safeguard the organization from reputational, talent, legal, and financial damages, and helps you truly hire the most qualified candidate and the best person for the job.

For more on Improving Quality of Hire by Evaluating Candidate Behavior, watch the recording of the ERE webinar here. And, subscribe to the Fama blog for additional strategies and tips on improving quality of hire.

Get the Newsletter

Recent Blog Posts

Fama in the News