Stop Calling AI Talent Systems Cloning Machines

People Best Feat Img Rectangle uniqueness vs sameness.jpg

In my last post about Efficacy Attributes, I talked about how PeopleBest uses your “definition of success” or what you already know is working inside your organization to baseline which Efficacy Attributes we should be looking for when it comes to new hires.  

TL;DR? Efficacy Attributes are leading indicators of success that point toward the likelihood that someone will succeed within your organization. These are what PeopleBest look for when we assess new employees. These attributes roll up into 4 Core Styles and 100s of Core Competencies that will eventually make up a person’s profile. They differ from traditional data, things that you might glean from a resume or an interview because resumes’ and interviews look toward the past—they’re lagging indicators of success. 

We do this by running every person in your organization through the PeopleBest assessment and bounce that data off your perception of your employees. After all, you know who’s killing it, who needs to improve, and who isn’t quite working out. 

Next, we look for patterns in the data and create a custom job fit profile template that we can use to measure potential job candidates against. 

Inevitably, someone will say, “But, Jim. If we do that, aren’t we just going to get a bunch of the same kinds of people, who believe the same thing, and have the same values? Won’t we just be a cookie-cutter organization made up entirely of clones? I don’t want to be an army of robots who communicates in only bleeps, blops, and bloops!”  

I’m paraphrasing—with some intentional hyperbole—but the sentiment is accurate, I can assure you. And it’s a valid sentiment. Diversity and inclusion are two of the most important tenets of hiring and should be taken very seriously. Aside from the moral obligation we have toward humanity, studies have shown that diversity has tons of positive side effects for your business.

But what may not be intuitive to most is that AI actually helps you along your path to diversity and removes some of the common biases that plague the hiring community. To make it more intuitive, I’d like to start off by illustrating the difference between what we call “Uniqueness” & “Sameness.”

Defining Uniqueness and Sameness 


Uniqueness is made up of all the things that make you, you. It’s the human experience. It’s when you were born. It’s the things you’ve seen that have molded the way you interact with the world. It’s your religious & political beliefs. It’s your heritage. Your culture. Your familial makeup. Your values. It’s your sexual choice. It’s your ethnicity. Uniqueness is made up of all the things that help us, as humans, raise our hand and self-identify and it helps us understand who we believe ourselves to be. 


If uniqueness is our personal human experience, then sameness would be the outward manifestation of our experiences, or our behaviors. And what’s pretty neat about behaviors are that they’re dynamic, which means that you can have two—or more— people that have similar behaviors, but they’ve come from completely different backgrounds. For example, you can be Hindu or Christian and be fiercely internally motivated. You can be a Republican or a Democrat and still pay attention to detail. You can be a Person of Color or a Caucasian and be dedicated to following through on your commitments.  

If people were mosaics, uniqueness would be the image you see from afar and sameness would be the individual shards that make up the image. And when it comes to diversity and inclusion, we want to know the makeup of the person, not what we can see from a distance.

Humans Aren’t Good at Inclusivity 

Despite some of our best efforts, as a species, humans just aren’t good at looking beyond what we can immediately see. It doesn’t matter how many onboarding training modules we’ve sat through that espouse the virtues of diversity.  It doesn’t matter how many likes we’ve doled out on social media to videos of people doing a good job of being inclusive. 

When the rubber meets the road, we all have our biases. Some of them are more insidious than others. Not every bias has to do with race, gender, sexual choice, or age. Some might be based on what university you attended. Or the clothes you wear to the interview. Maybe you have tattoos, and the hiring manager doesn’t like tattoos. Who knows? The possible combinations of biases are literally endless—ironically—because humans or so diverse and complex.  

AI Software Isn’t So Myopic  

On the other hand, software—if programmed to do so—doesn’t really care what you look like. It doesn’t care where you grew up, who your parents are, what church you go to, what your prior political leanings are, when you were born, or who you love…It doesn’t care about any of that stuff. 

All software cares about are inputs and outputs. And all you should care about is accurate, unbiased data that’s going to help you make the best people-decision in the shortest amount of time. 

My Final Answer 

So, are we creating clones by using AI? Are we eventually going to be a bunch of Stepford Employees who can only respond in certain ways to the challenges we face in the workforce? It’s an emphatic NO from me. 

Actually, it’s quite the contrary. By focusing on looking for the behaviors that make people the same—the underpinnings of success—we open the door to a wide world of unique diversity. A door that humans, historically, have done an incredibly poor job of opening by themselves. 


Better Data Equals Better Hiring Decisions

People Best Feat Img Rectangle better data better hiring.jpg

In my last post, we talked about the 4 Must-Haves of an Effective Hiring Tool. I stated that to be an effective hiring tool, the data the tool gives you should be:

  • Predictive 

  • Actionable 

  • Customized 

  • Sustainable

In this post, I’d like to take a closer look at that first bullet—Predictive. Previously, I discussed the concept of leading indicators vs lagging indicators and how leading indicators are a much more powerful measurement when it comes to determining job fit than the alternative.

People Best Feat Img Rectangle Leading Lagging-2.jpg

First, I’ll dig a little deeper into this concept and of leading vs lagging indicators and then give some examples of the type of data PeopleBest looks for when we’re helping our clients make better people-decisions. 

Lagging Indicators 

The things that most people are looking at to make their hiring decisions tend to be lagging indicators. The things you might see on a resume or find out in an interview, for example. Years of experience, prior job history, titles held, certifications, awards, degrees obtained, skills, and even references. All of those are interesting data points, but they don’t always equate to that person being a good job fit. 

The fact of the matter is that all of those data points have context that don’t necessarily apply to your business. Your potential new hire may have been successful, but what if the leadership at the company they worked for was very hands-on and micro-managed everything, and this person thrives on having a lot of structure? If you’re going for a culture of emergence & collaboration and you need someone who is going to be an innovative problem solver—it may not matter how successful this person was because he or she isn’t wired to thrive in the culture you’re cultivating.  

When you start looking at data points through a predictive lens, the lagging indicators you see on paper begin to carry less and less weight. For example, you can assume that a person with a degree from a prestigious university is intelligent, has the ability to learn, and was once able to navigate the collegiate landscape. But you can’t assume that they’re committed to continued learning and that they’ll be able to navigate the interpersonal landscape of your particular business—not based on a BA or an MA.  

Here’s another example. A person may come to you with years of job experience and may have been promoted several times at their last company. You could assume that they were telling the truth and had held an applicable role before and have all the training and licenses necessary to have that role—a reasonably safe assumption. But what you don’t know is if that person had strong leadership at that company who was able to guide them toward success. What if you’re company is expecting this person to self-start, and they end up freezing? You simply can’t get that info from a lagging indicator. 

All of this isn’t to say that sometimes you might look at lagging indicators, decide to hire a person, and hit the jackpot. It happens. Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn sometimes, right? Rather, I say all of this to emphasize that lagging indicators only show us if someone has the baseline skills to do the job. They can tell us if someone is actually a surgeon or Accountant or a CSR etc. They can point toward whether or not this person has done this type of work before. All of which is relevant data to have, but ultimately insufficient but to make a hiring decision or to help choose one candidate over another. 

The good news is that there are better data sets out there. 

Leading Indicators  

Leading indicators are anything that might point to a person’s likelihood to succeed in the future. Unlike lagging indicators, these predict success. More accurately, they predict a person’s ability to succeed, or their efficacy. That’s why we call these leading indicators Efficacy Attributes. 

Efficacy Attributes are exponentially more poignant than anything I’ve ever seen on a resume or heard in a job interview. Here, let’s play a quick game of would you rather…

Would you rather know: 

  • How many years of experience someone has or how they’ll deal with a crisis? 

  • What someone’s last job title was or if they’re detail oriented with high follow through? 

  • If someone is proficient in Office or if they’re creative and committed to learning? 

  • What university someone went to or if they’re humble & collaborative?  

I believe that most business owners and hiring managers would want to know the latter in all four scenarios because they’re more applicable when it comes to building teams and staffing departments. Knowing someone’s tendency to behave a certain way, in a certain scenario is invaluable data to have when it comes to making hiring decisions. You can use this knowledge to not only assess the individual, but you can also use it to build better, more well-rounded teams and develop specific future job profiles.  

More on Efficacy Attributes 

In my four “would you rather” questions from above, the second half of each question correlated to an actual Efficacy Attribute that we test for when we do our assessments. In total, we’re measuring 29 different Efficacy Attributes on a sliding scale that will eventually help us determine what your Core Styles and Competencies are. Each person has a work, interpersonal, engagement and ego style, as well as 100s of competencies that our Efficacy Attributes help us to measure. This often leads to millions of different calculations and potential profiles. This often comes off as a little overwhelming. 

And one of the questions we get asked the most is how do we weight each attribute? Or how do we determine which ones are most important to measure? If millions of profiles are possible, how do we know we’re using the right one? The answer falls a little outside of the Predictive bucket and lands in the Customized category, but I think it’s worth noting so that you can get a sense for how we’re thinking about this stuff. The attributes are deemed important because it’s based on what’s already working inside your organization. 

One of the first things we do when we get a new client is, we put the entirety of the workforce thru the PeopleBest assessment. Then, we pair the data we get with whatever your particular measure of success is within your business. For example, you know who the superstar employees are. So—initially—once we’ve determined the core styles and competencies that thrive within your organization, we may look at the profiles of those superstars to determine what the profile of a new hire should look like.

Parting Thoughts

Our secret sauce is in finding the “bullseye” within the 29 Efficacy Attributes, the 4 Core Styles, and the Core Competencies. This is the backbone of all 4 “must-haves.” Once we’ve nailed those “bullseyes”, not only do they allow you to be predict the likelihood of an individual’s success, but that potential success is customized to your unique company and culture, too. When applied correctly, the insight they give is actionable and can help you do more than just hire—they can help you craft robust career progression paths and identify and close the gaps that will turn moderate employees into great ones. 

Lastly, the accuracy of the Efficacy Attributes gets better the more you use PeopleBest. This leads to a phenomenon that we call getting “smarter as you go.” The PeopleBest software grows and learns the same way you do—leading to a sustainable hiring tool that you can use time and again with pinpoint accuracy to make better, more effective people-decisions. 


The Four Must-Haves of an Effective Hiring Tool

There are two groups of people out there in the hiring world. The first are the people who rely on, Indeed, and other job boards. Or maybe they think a professional “headhunter” will be able to help them recruit new talent. These are the same people that subscribe to the idea that running hiring ads is an effective tactic—despite diminishing returns on ad spend. All of this while being avalanched with countless cookie-cutter resumes that take hours to pore over. Old school stuff.

The other group are the people who have realized, through trial and error, that resumes, and traditional hiring practices are insufficient. These progressive people have turned to technology in the hopes that automation will help.  These are the people who are using applicant tracking systems to help supplement their current practices – hoping this can help them hire better people.

That being said, there are a lot of tools and confusing options in the market to choose from. DiSC, Myers Briggs and Predictive Index are among the most commonly used profiling tools that companies leverage to assess personality attributes. Beyond personality profiles there are many vendors who attempt to quantify a potential hire’s soft skills—companies such as Applied, Pymetrics, and Koru come to mind.

But before you make your decision, I want you to consider the following…

The Four Must-Haves 

I started PeopleBest with a belief that a well-rounded tool, system, or company (let’s group them and call them products) should embody the following four attributes. Your product should be:

· Predictive 

· Actionable 

· Customized 

· Sustainable

Some basic products might check one or two of these attribute boxes, and that’s a good start. But if it doesn’t have all four, you’re not really going to be successful with it. Sure, you might see some marginal improvement, you might even get lucky and find your next superstar, but it isn’t going to be sustainable unless all these attributes are in place and accounted for.

Let’s dig a little deeper into each one and discover what it means to be predictive, actionable, customized, and sustainable.

Information Should be Predictive 

Products shouldn’t point toward lagging indicators of success. The whole reason you’re looking for a product is because the lagging indicators weren’t working to begin with. Resumes, achievements, awards, and past promotions have no actual bearing on a person’s ability to be successful in a new role. Rather, it only means that they’re qualified.

Lagging indicators are the bare minimum when it comes to hiring filters, a lot of the time they aren’t even relevant at all.  This is evidenced by the fact that we’ve seen many people experience great success in sales and administrative roles that have no prior experience in those roles. They come out of other industries such as hospitality, event planning, and even call centers.

Instead, your product should point toward leading indicators of success, or Efficacy Attributes as we call them. Things like internal drive, ability to adapt, appetite for continued learning, and humility are often exponentially more indicative of future success than the things you might see on a resume like certificates of achievement, or even years of experience.

Data Should Be Actionable

If the data that your product aggregates only helps you say yes or no to hiring a person, then it’s insufficient data. Your product should help you say yes or no, but it should also help you make better staffing decisions by identifying the gaps that a potential new hire might have. Also, the data can help you craft customized career and skill progression paths from the get-go to close those gaps faster.

So, not only do you need to be able to determine if a person has the right Efficacy Attributes, but you also need to be able to quantify and measure them in a way that’s meaningful to your business. This will help you visualize the strengths and/or deficiencies of your potential new hires and give you a head start on paving their road to success.

Having the capability to identify these gaps allows you to make decisions that you may not have been able to make before. For example, team placement. If someone is deficient in a certain are, you may decide to place them on a team that has that area as a strength. And that goes in the opposite direction, too. If someone is really strong in a particular area, you may place them on a team that can use the help in that regard.

Another way you can make the right data actionable is by using it to determine the amount and type of training someone needs to get up to speed. If you have two candidates and one displays the attributes of someone who can get up to speed in a week and the other will take a month, you might choose to make one hire before the other.

Having this type of data at your disposal is proves crucial because not only does it help you make better people-decisions, but it also helps you make better business decisions. Better business decisions will then inevitably lead to lower costs, faster ROI, increased productivity & morale, among a plethora of other secondary and tertiary benefits.

If your product isn’t helping you make nuanced decisions like this, you’re missing out.

The Experience Should Be Customized

This is likely the most intuitive of the 4 attributes, but you’d be amazed at how many people still put their faith in products that have no way of understanding the specific business need to which it’s getting applied. Whichever product you choose needs to know what it is you’re trying to achieve. It must be aware of the current landscape of your organization and be able to give you data that matters to you. Data based on your values, your unique goals, your particular constraints, the exact specifications & duties of the job role, and how you define success.  All of this in addition to the fact that the data has to embrace the culture you want to cultivate.

If it was your personal life, would you place important life decisions in the hands of a tarot card reader, or the daily horoscope in the Sunday paper? Or would you turn to a family member, or some other such trusted advisor, for advice? Most would choose the person who knew the most about them and their history, and who could offer relevant advice given what the other person knows about them.

It’s the same when it comes to hiring products. Always choose the product that is the most customizable to the framework of the values that matter most to you, within your unique company, and in your particular industry.

Let us show you how you can leverage your existing Rockstar’s to build custom profiles based on what we already know works inside your organization. 

I know I just used a lot of squishy, feel-good language, but that doesn’t make It less true. It doesn’t make it less powerful either. When we say custom, we don’t mean that your product should cater to your feelings or whims—not necessarily at least. We mean that your product should have the capability to get situationally specific to the things that matter most to you. For example, maybe you care about decreasing turnover. We’ve created custom profiles that were able to quantify a person’s likelihood of quitting within the first year. Another custom example we’ve done is to quantify a person’s likelihood to get in an accident because a client of ours had a lot of worker’s comp claims over the years and they wanted to remedy that.

Customizing a profile for your culture is one thing. Customizing a profile that will help you hire in a way that enables you to move the business needle in directions outside the HR department is an extremely powerful and profitable capability to have in today’s changing business environment.

The Process Should Be Sustainable 

This last attribute may be the most important of them all. The product you choose has to be sustainable. One thing in the business world is certain, and that’s the fact that change is coming. It’s inevitable and when it happens it’s going to come fast. So, you’re going to need a product that can keep up with you as your business matures and new needs arise. Nowadays, you know more about your business and your market than ever before and you need a product that can learn as fast as you do.

So, what are the main characteristics of a sustainable product?

·      It has to turn data over quickly and with pinpoint accuracy

·      It must be cost effective to allow for frequent use.

Think about it. If you need to hire someone next week so you can sell your next high, 6-figure deal and it takes 3 months to get a profile—is that going to help you sell that deal. Probably not. If developing a job fit profile costs you $20K each time you need one and can only be done as a one off by an expert I/O psychologist—are you going to want to create a new one monthly? Annually? Probably not. If it costs $20K and the profile sits on the shelf for 5 years—do you think it’s going to help you when you need it? Probably not.

Our software makes it easy. The algorithms crunch the numbers and make millions of calculations in seconds, so you can start implementing your data and seeing results immediately

If you had a cost-effective system that could pump out custom profiles in minutes, the possibilities are endless. Not only could you hire someone when you needed them and use an up to date profile to do it but you could also use it to tighten up hiring practices in general, save money on training & onboarding,

Imagine a world in which you can run profiles over and over again as new data becomes available. That new data being employees whom you’ve hired and employees who’ve left the company. You could then tweak the profiles ever so slightly on a whim, getting your job fits tighter and tighter. The tool would—in effect—get smarter the more you used it. It would learn new things about your company and the people who work there as fast as you wanted it to.

Parting Thoughts

There are a ton of players in this space. Many companies are out here offering hands-on consulting, intuitive software, cutting edge psychology & behavioral science. And I don’t think for a second that any one of them are being disingenuous or aren’t trying to be helpful in some way.

In fact, I think a lot of these companies do a lot of things well. Some of them might check the predictability and sustainability box. Others might check the actionable box. While others excel at customization. But I challenge you to look for a company that embodies all four before you make your decision. Again, without all four of the attributes in place and accounted for, the product you choose is going to fail you at some point.

At PeopleBest, we built our software and our business plan with these attributes in mind. And, if given the opportunity, I’d love to show you how we do it.

Thanks for reading and happy hiring!

Download the 4-Must Haves Infographic Now