• Somer Hackley

How to improve hiring and avoid "the mismatch problem"

I came across this video over the weekend from 2008, Malcolm Gladwell on the Challenge of Hiring in the Modern World. It made me think of a few conversations I’ve had recently. Gladwell talks about what he calls “the mismatch problem”: when the criteria we use to assess someone’s ability to do a job is radically out of step with the actual demands of the job itself.

He goes on to say that mismatches exist because of our desire for certainty, for hard objective reliable standardized predictors of performance. We have a desire to impose certainty on what is inherently uncertain. And the mismatch problem grows as the complexity of occupations grows.

This made me think about the tips and listening ear I’ve given to candidates who are frustrated that some hiring processes are flawed, mainly that they disagree with reasons they were disqualified, the judgement they were given, or that the recruiter simply didn’t understand them or the job itself.

I challenge all of us as recruiters and hiring managers to think about the mismatch problem, and if our qualification methods continue to evolve just as the complexity of the jobs themselves evolves over time.