Unlocking The Candidate

The key to uncovering the whole-candidate picture involves a holistic look

Unlocking The Candidate

Wilfred Pareto’s observation tells us that a small proportion of people will generally create a disproportionate amount of output in any group.

20% of employees account for 80% of output, while the remaining 80% of employees account for only 20% of output.

The question we beg ourselves is “who are these talented individuals?”

Having looked at internal, external, temporary and permanent hires in the last series, it’s important to remember the era of lifetime employment is all but past us.

From the end of World War II through the 70’s, corporations filled roughly 90% of their vacancies through promotions and lateral assignments. Today that figure is a third or less.

Which brings us to taking a look at a complete stranger, and figuring out, is this person a member of my 20% group, or the 80% group? Now scale this up to the thousands.


Simply by nature, the screening is characteristically difficult. It's a problem few, if any at all, have been able to solve. The aim is to learn as much as you can about a candidate. To find, at the very least, that 70% fit, with remaining positioned as room for training. Which, as the previous article explains, enables high engagement and retention.

You might think you’ve got around this by “not hiring a stranger” with an internal referral. While that’s true for many positions, it’s time we acknowledge some issues with referrals.

Shortcomings of referral-based hires:

  1. Network limitation  - Candidate pool limited to the immediate network of the employee’s in your company.
  2. Homophily tendency - Bound to create homogeneity of workforce. Starkly against diversity goals, the benefits of which we’re all abundantly aware of.
  3. Most importantly - Research shows that referral hires simply work because of the referrers vested interest in the incoming employee. They essentially onboard them. If the referrer were to leave after making the recommendation, candidates don’t perform any better than non-referrals.

Developing a full picture – The Whole Pie

All things considered, essentially every step in the hiring pipeline is specifically designed to unlock a certain aspect of a candidate's profile.

  1. CV – Background
  2. Screening call – Interest in the company
  3. Skills test – Hard skill proficiency
  4. Situational Tests – Competencies
  5. Interview – “Culture Fit”

The remaining part, what we call the “Unseens” constitutes the implied risk every single one of us takes in hiring. The acceptance that a certain part of the profile you’ll only get to learn of after working with the candidate for a period of time. It’s a cost with no real way to overcome, so we work on strengthening the rest of the pie.

This series is a collection of short nuggets, where we look at the most popular, and the most overlooked aspects of the screening process. Incredible strides we’ve identified on our own, and breakthrough practices, from the best of the best in industry.


Our aim, as with any good development in our field, is to position companies to win the war on talent by equipping them with a better understanding of talent and their workplace behaviours.

Which brings us back to the talented few. With all our efforts spent in improving the picture of that candidate pie, what could be hidden in that unseen area? Stay tuned.