The ‘H’ of HIRING – The Human Element

By January 5, 2018 CXO Interviews

In human chemistry, ‘human element’ or human chemical ‘element’ is a metaphor- like phrase used to define a person from a chemical perspective. The terms was first used in 1914 by English born American engineer William Fairburn, in his book ‘Human Chemistry.’

The ‘human element’ that we are referring to points to the human behaviour and complex psychology factors that come to play in the various phases for a hiring a human resource for a position in an organization successfully.

While a lot of debate has happened over ‘breaking down’ the hiring process and hiring decision into measurable metrics and data which can be validated and articulated, the ‘human element’ remains at the top of the decision hierarchy which dominates the hiring decision in any hiring process.

Recruitment teams are evaluated and assessed through various measurable parameters like ‘throughput’; ratios like – ‘join-to-hire’, ‘offered-to-join’, ‘offer accepted- join’ etc., the list is endless. These metrics are part of the approach to make the process ‘objective’ and comprehensible to us, yet this approach to hiring effectively renders the process to a level of opacity which objectifies the entire hiring process and yet surprisingly fails to explain how more positions close when the hiring process is more intense, with greater engagement from all the stakeholders involved and when more attention is paid to understanding the ‘DNA’ of the candidates presented and matching them to the ‘DNA’ of the hiring organization.

Our endeavor is to try and understand this very ‘Human Element’ in the Hiring process from a semantic point of view, attempting to understand the nuances and subliminal indications and contradictions which exist simultaneously in it by getting the audience of this article to introspect on this aspect.

Thin-slicing, subjective and intuitive assessment, intuition, non-verbal cues, vibes, aura, trolling, eye movement and body language, the list of ingredients is endless, that goes into the recipe of creating an assessment of ‘Cultural Fitment’ of a potential candidates. Often ‘areas that need to be probed’ are identified by various psychometric tools, yet all of them come with a disclaimer- that these should not be used as the basis of selection or elimination for a candidate (for a position). The ‘human element’ is forced to stake center stage and sit in the hot seat, yet we continuously question its ability to assess, doubt the accuracy of assessment due to inherent subjectivity which is never devoid of bias in the assessor.

Our inability to deal with subjectivity and the ‘Human Element’ in hiring and appreciate its complexity renders us incapable of honing this very powerful skill and prevent us from giving it, its due.

Some of the questions which we should be actually focusing on are –

  • How should we crystallize the ‘pureness’ of the ‘Human Element’ in Hiring and apply this very tremendous skill to our advantage to hire the best resource for the job?
  • How can we develop this often questioned and victimized ‘human element’ and take it to the next level, to the pureness of ‘instinct’ and ‘reflex’ where it becomes laser- sharp?
  • Can we not acknowledge that this complex process of human experience intersecting with human knowledge cannot be broken down into linear, mathematical models and neither should we waste our time and effort trying to do so?

The biggest question remains- can we not take the first step in the right direction in understanding the ‘Human Element’ in Hiring by accepting its defiance to get defined and focusing on sharpening this very powerful skill to a level of ‘zen-like’ precision?

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