Risk Mitigation in Your Hiring Process

By Joseph T. Sefcik, President, Employment Technologies

The term “risk mitigation” has almost become a household term. We hear references to risk mitigation pertaining to investments, business operations, computer systems, emergency management, crop management, product liability, public relations, and the list continues.

Yet, as it pertains to human resources and talent prediction, we seldom hear the term. Risk mitigation implies a set of priorities and tolerances for risk that we might be willing to accept. Not all risks can be eliminated, but when predicting top talent, these risks can certainly be mitigated.

That’s why I’m proposing that you consider “risk mitigation” as an HR strategy—minimizing negative consequences, especially legal consequences while optimizing business results. Naturally, there is both tension and balance between minimal exposure and optimal results. So, how does risk mitigation apply to talent prediction and the science of hiring the best employees?

#1  Talent prediction is a science, not an art.  Today there is a considerable body of research comparing talent prediction methods.  Some methods are good, some better, and others best.  So, if talent prediction is a quantifiable science, then it’s possible to rank the effectiveness of various methods.  For example, see the attached chart based on data from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that ranks a variety of current employment testing methods.  Talent prediction will never eliminate all errors, yet the risk of errors can be mitigated by paying close attention to the science.

#2  Accuracy. Accuracy. Accuracy. These are the three most important elements for risk mitigation and ultimate hiring success. If a process is documented and can be proven accurate, your potential risk and exposure will be mitigated. Yet, accuracy alone is not enough. Accuracy without fairness will likely create greater exposure rather than less.  Rationally, we understand our goal for talent prediction is a fair and accurate process. Unfortunately, it is surprising how easily these goals become secondary to logistics, convenience, fear of dropouts, etc.  If predicting the best talent is truly important in your organization, then holding firm on accuracy and fairness will most assuredly minimize your risks and optimize results.

#3  Your greatest risk is the human element. If we acknowledge that talent prediction is a science, then we know there are variables that affect the outcome. So, our primary purpose is to isolate and control the variables that affect our hiring decisions.  It amazes me how often procedures, either unintentionally or intentionally, fail to mitigate the effects of the human element.  Whether it is inconsistency, bias, lack of training, or something else, identifying and addressing human emotion must be a top priority for proper risk mitigation.

#4  Applicant reaction.  Years ago an applicant’s reaction to the hiring process was not even on the radar.  Organizations were in control of the process and the outcome. Fortunately, the process is now more humanistic with a give-and-take approach, rather than just a take.  Still, there are many differences in hiring procedures, with some being considerably more engaging and applicant friendly than others. Risk mitigation in today’s culture requires consideration for applicant reaction. Selection processes that are consistent, easy to follow, and highly job relevant not only create a more positive applicant experience, they also mitigate the risk of error and legal challenge.

#5  Truth or embellishment? Embellishing the truth or “what I say” can be an art for applicants.  Granted, some applicants are more prone to embellishment than others. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to discern between good applicants and good embellishers. So, to mitigate risk, we should take serious notice and account for self-report information such as interviews, survey questionnaires, and self-ratings.  If your selection process includes any type of self-report data, when possible, obtain confirmation as to the accuracy of what is reported.  “What I say” does not always correspond to the reality of “What I can do.”


Joseph T. Sefcik is the founder and president of Employment Technologies. As a thought leader in simulation and virtual interview technology, Mr. Sefcik pioneered some of the earliest employment simulations for organizations such as The Coca Cola Company, Ford Motor Company, and the New York Police Department. For more than 30 years, his passion has been the advancement of simulation technology for personnel selection and development, creating the industry’s widely recognized line of EASy Simulations®. He can be reached at Joseph.S@EmploymentTechnologies.com.

Employment Technologies is the pioneer and world’s leading developer of employment simulations for talent prediction. An unprecedented five-time national Top HR Product of the Year award winner, we offer a full suite of interview tools and simulations designed specifically for key jobs and industries including, contact centers, customer service, financial services, sales, collections, hospitality, and more! 

To test-drive the latest talent assessment technology, contact us here or call 888.332.0648.