Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hire the Uglier Model, Part 2

An earlier post, Hire the Uglier Model, encouraged evaluation of two similar job candidates by choosing which one had more to overcome. Hiring managers typically take the opposite tack and select the candidate with more accolades. One way to think about this is with some basic geometry:

A candidate's status can be thought of as dependent upon how fast he develops, how many years he's had to develop, and how much of a headstart he had in life. This can be written as follows:

Development_Status = Development_Rate x Time + Headstart

If you think of this as a line equation ( y = mx + b ), then you can plot the respective lines of two candidates and make an estimate of future success. I'll use some unspecified units for both Development Status and Time (all that matters is the relationship between the two candidate's values, not the units per se).

So take two candidates, each with the same Development Status after 25 Time units have elapsed. They have equal Status right now. However big candidate A's headstart was, it must have been offset by candidate B's superior Development Rate. Since you are hiring based on expected future prowess, candidate B is more likely to exhibit this since he has overcome B's headstart hurdle and has now leveled the playing field, ready to leave B in the dust. Yes, there are other factors to consider (diminishing returns, non-linearity, etc.), but B is a better pick, ceteris paribus.

There is evidence that some top firms have figured this out. Lara Stone is on Vogue covers; Stacy Keibler is not.

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