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Talent Wars: Companies Think Candidate Pool is Drying Up—But Are They Overlooking “Soft” Criteria Like Personality Type?

talent-sqWith the unemployment rate down to 5.3 percent, hiring and retaining talent continues to be a growing problem for employers. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the average cost of a bad hire can equal between 25 and 30 percent of that hire’s first-year earnings—reinforcing the notion that many organizations literally cannot afford to make a bad hire.

Employee analytics firm PI Worldwide recently announced the results from a new recruiting and retention trends survey, which looked at the way employers find, manage and keep their employees.  After polling HR professionals at organizations spanning multiple industries (including business, finance, healthcare and manufacturing), the results revealed employers are struggling to find talent for open positions, with 65 percent of small, 45 percent of medium and 40 percent of large companies saying that it is their biggest problem.

The survey data revealed that when looking to bring in new hires, most organizations are focusing on the expected areas of candidates’ skills, experience and education. However, companies of all sizes are not including “soft” criteria, such as personalities and behaviors, as part of their job descriptions. This means they are often not putting the right emphasis on equally critical areas (such as motivating drives) and an individual’s characteristics that are important for success. As a result, they are inadvertently narrowing their own candidate pools by concentrating on only the “hard” criteria.

“The survey data points to a growing need to supplement traditional thinking when it comes to selecting qualified candidates,” said Mike Zani, CEO of PI Worldwide, in a news release. “Today, most employers continue to rely on unstructured interviews and previous experience as the predominant method to determine fit. While these are important, insights from behavioral and cognitive assessments can be significantly more accurate in predicting how well a candidate will perform within a specific role, culture, and ultimately how well they will support strategic initiatives.”

The data also uncovered reasons why employers felt some of their new hires were not a fit, and top reasons why employees leave their jobs. Additional notable findings include:


  • When asked why a new hire wasn’t a fit, almost half said either because of behavior or inadequate skills (47 percent).
  • Small businesses report candidate misrepresentation as the primary reason why new hires don’t work out. However, they rely primarily on interviews and don’t use cognitive assessments and knowledge/skills tests as frequently as larger companies.


  • Almost 75% of large companies have lost a top performer due to a poor performer.
  • While small and medium businesses terminate poor fits, over 20 percent of large companies opt to do nothing.
  • The data found that most companies look to retain and motivate employees through bonuses; however, compensation is cited as the number one reason for talent turnover.
  • After compensation, the top reason given for why employees voluntarily left their positions was lack of career development, followed by poor job fit and conflict with a peer or manager.

Download the complete report here.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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