The science of hiring

New mathematical formula and database could take the guesswork out of choosing the best candidate for the job
||Last Updated: 03/23/2006

A complex mix of co-efficients and matrices will revolutionize the world of hiring, claims a University of Calgary business professor.

The process, synthetic validity, could streamline the hiring process, saving HR months of work and thousands of dollars by identifying the best candidate for the job using a single mathematical formula, says Piers Steel.

"Essentially this is a single standardized system that could select almost anybody for anything in one-thousandth the time and one-thousandth the cost," he says.

The idea is to create a database of elements that predict behaviours necessary to do a given job. The information would be gathered from tests of individuals currently employed in that job. Then, with Steel's fancy mathematical formula, hiring managers could compare a candidate to the database to determine if she's the right person for the job.

The process would allow HR to determine the best candidates available in any given applicant pool, says Steel. Since the top one per cent outperforms the bottom one per cent by a ratio of 50 to 1 in some jobs, he says, the top performers are worth many times their salary, while those at the bottom can cost employers.

However, it may be a while before mathematics takes over the HR department. Steel estimates he and his team will have to interview at least 41,000 people to create the database.

Steel describes the process in this month's issue of the

International Journal of Selection Assessment


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