How Big Data has an Effect on Hiring Decisions

The applications for big data are nearly endless. One area where big data is proving to be extremely impactful is in the hiring process.  One only needs to look at the way professional sports teams use analytics to acquire talent to understand the practical applications for big data. Organizations look directly to data to determine gaps in their current team makeup and to evaluate potential acquisitions to address those needs. Companies in all industries can use – and expand upon – these same principles to identify, evaluate and select the talent they need to create their own all-star teams.

The Limitations of Traditional Hiring

Traditional hiring relies upon the intuition of managers and HR teams rather than facts or data. These teams are able to conduct interviews and manage the hiring process, but human instinct isn’t always the best indicator of how well an individual will perform in a specific role. This is especially true when it comes to highly-skilled positions. Department heads can provide HR teams with a specific list of skills and qualifications to look for in potential candidates, but HR professionals don’t always know precisely how to evaluate people for those skills in an interview.

The limitations work in the opposite direction as well. When department managers are responsible for their own hiring, they may be adept at pegging down a candidate’s skill set, but they are usually not as well-versed at identifying soft skills or personality match during an interview.

Objectivity in the Numbers

Big data allows hiring teams to marry their intuition with the objectivity of cold, hard facts. When data is used in tandem with traditional hiring methods, it helps to identify the candidates with the best potential for true success. For example, big data eliminates the unconscious bias that can often rear its head in the interview process.  Let’s say the most qualified candidate in a pool began their career as a bit of a job-hopper. Having “too many” jobs can disqualify them in the mind of many interviewers. But, a study of more than 20,000 workers by Evolv revealed that prior employment tenure had no bearing on predicting future success. An analytics program allows no room for unconscious bias, and therefore keeps highly qualified candidates who have strong predictors for success to stay in the running.

Big data can be deployed in an infinite number of ways to help improve hiring decisions. It can be utilized to improve job postings, predict work ethic, determine personality match, identify individuals with strong leadership potential, improve retention rates and predict future success in a role.  However, to realize the full potential of big data, it should not replace human intuition, but instead be used to guide hiring teams through the decision-making process while significantly reducing or even eliminating the bias and emotion that can drive poor hiring decisions.


In order to make big data work for your hiring decisions, you have to have HR professionals on your team who value the benefits of the technology. If you want to improve your hiring practices, or connect with human resources professionals to round out your team, Contemporary Staffing Solutions in Philadelphia can help. We have a strong network of HR professionals from entry level through management who are ready to help you elevate your human resources department. Email us today to learn more about our dynamic results.