The Law of Instrument

08 Feb 16:00 by Nikki Dallas


“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”

Abraham Maslow – Psychologist

Maslow's famous phrase, known as the Law of the Instrument, underscores the liability of relying too heavily on our judgments: they are coloured too much by our bias, prejudices, and personal history. 

But I don’t have any bias or prejudices I hear you cry!  I am afraid you do even if they aren’t conscious.  In order for us to make sense of anything we file through our existing experiences and emotions.  We work out how to label it, where to file it, compare it against something else similar, does it make us feel good or bad …. Literally thousands or processes are going on within a very short space of time and without you even realising it …. It is how the super-computer we call our brain works.  

So is ‘judgment’ the best way to make for you to make a hiring decision?  No of course not.  But we mitigate those failings by comparing your opinions of the candidate with somebody else’s point of view.  That’s why we don’t just rely on one interview we introduce potential new hires to HR colleagues, senior line managers and peers under the comfort of “We can’t all be wrong surely?”  You rely on a consensus of opinion, a democratic point of view but since we have already established that everyone has bias and prejudices, consciously or unconsciously, how can this be the best way to do things.

I have the utmost respect for HR professionals who have created recruitment processes to try and eradicate the ‘fingers crossed’ approach to hiring.   Often a Competency Based Interview is preferred but in my experience certain personality types do not do well with such a rigid style of interviewing and there is rarely room offered for the candidate to ask questions or to effectively communicate their wants and needs from the role and why they think they would be a good fit.   But something had to be done to minimise bias and prejudice and this is the best that companies have come up with thus far.

I’ll let you into a little secret!  The recruitment industry knows that this system of hiring is flawed too.  That’s why generally a rebate system is only for 3 months.  It is commercially difficult to offer more than 3, or (if you are lucky) 6 months’ rebate.  After that the risk is passed onto you and you must live or die by the quality of your recruitment system.  

And in every company I worked at before I set up Talent FM it was drilled into us to Aftercare, Aftercare, Aftercare.  For those not familiar with the term it is ensuring that regular contact is made with both the client and the candidate to make sure that everything is working out OK.  This is done ostensibly as a customer care exercise but ask anyone who has worked in recruitment and if they are honest they will tell you that it is also a commercial issue – will we have to give money back? Or (the worst!) do all the work again for free to find a replacement candidate.  The fact that the whole industry does this again shows that we don’t have that much faith in the process.

But don’t just take my word for it.  Ask around.  What percentage of your new hires leave within  12 months of joining?   If you don’t know then ask the question.  If your company doesn’t know then this is a metric you should not only know but be actively monitoring. Recruitment can be expensive in terms of time and money so you should be measuring the outcome of the process long term.  As someone who wants to make a difference and do better, I would be very interested in the figures if you can please share with me.

After 20 years recruiting facilities management professionals and working with thousands of the world’s top companies I am regularly shocked by the inefficiencies in the hiring process and I know first-hand how much talent is lost through not expediting the process in a timely fashion and by the ‘hit or miss’ interview process.  I was unhappy to continue being a part of this failing merry-go-round and thought that there must be a better way.  So I used all of my recruitment experience and all of my passion and drive for excellence, along with scientific and technological improvements to create Zodiac

I am so confident that my system is better than what you are currently using that I offer a full one year guarantee on all our placements.  I can offer this because 98% of people we place using this system are still in their post after 12 months.  If you know the numbers of new hires that leave within 12 months of joining you will know that 98% is a stellar figure. If you don’t, then find out your number and come back to me.

Zodiac gives hiring managers a whole tool bag instead of just a hammer; with spectacular results.