Having tracked the performance of thousands of senior professional staff and managers over the past 50 years it turns out it’s not hard to predict who will be successful. All you need to do is ask candidates to describe their major accomplishments most comparable to the key performance objectives (KPOs) of the open job. As long as you dig deep enough the factors shown below will pop out. Consistency is what matters, though, not one-time occurrences. This preview of the Sherlock Holmes deductive interview describes the probing needed to gather this information.

What’s surprising is that AI hasn’t been able to figure this out. But once you review the list below you’ll see why, since most of these factors aren’t easily seen on a resume unless you can read between the lines.

The 10 Best Predictors of Hiring Success

  1. Being assigned to stretch projects soon after starting a new job. This is a clue that the hiring manager recognizes the person’s potential.
  2. Consistently volunteering for big projects or to handle problems. This is a sign that the person is self-motivated and committed to personal development. This is truer if it occurs year after year.
  3. Being assigned to cross-functional teams that are growing in importance. This is evidence of great team skills, especially when those on the team ask the person to be on other teams.
  4. Being asked to handle important problems and projects. A pattern here reveals the person’s technical and organizational competency.
  5. Heavy exposure to senior company leaders. Find out how the person got the exposure, why, and what happened as a result. This is further proof of upside potential and business acumen.
  6. Being rehired by former managers and/or hiring former co-workers. As part of this find out why and how. The reasons reveal true competency and reliability.
  7. Developing and promoting staff members for more important jobs. Don’t hire anyone for a manager’s position without this type of track record.
  8. Coaching and mentoring others. This is a significant clue that the person is a subject matter expert in some field when others seek out the person for advice. When the person proactively helps others it’s a clue that the person will be a good manager.
  9. Formal recognition for any of the above. Be a cynic but if the above clues reveal outstanding performance they need to be backed up with raises, bonuses, promotions, awards, speaking events, whitepapers, prizes or formal letters of commendation.
  10. The Fit Factors must be in alignment. Even if all of the above is positive, the person could still underperform if they aren’t intrinsically motivated to do the actual work that needs to be done, doesn’t mesh with the hiring manager’s style or doesn’t complement the company’s way of doing business.

It’s essential to prepare a performance-based job description before conducting the interview in order to assess these factors properly. These types of job descriptions define the job as a series of 5-6 key performance objectives (KPOs) rather than a generic list of skills, experiences and competencies. Then by asking about comparable accomplishments you’ll be able to quickly determine if the candidate is a fit for the job and if likely to be a top performer.

It’s not surprising that traditional AI for hiring hasn’t identified these same factors since they’re not readily apparent without first scanning the resume for rate of change of growth. That’s what good recruiters and hiring managers do when initially reviewing resumes. Making matters worse is that most of the best people don’t use postings to find new jobs since they know they’ll be considered too light when compared to the traditional requirements. As a result they tend to rely more on networking.

That’s why, given these types of challenges, AI has not progressed as rapidly as needed to replace the human touch when it comes to assessing competency and predicting performance.

In fact, maybe it never should.