Extreme Hiring Process – the NFL Draft

So the NFL Draft was held last week. How did your team do? Did you get a future super star? It should be obvious, right?

The circus that has become the NFL draft is by far one of the most unique and extreme hiring processes ever seen, not only in sports but in any industry – a spectacle like no other. To put it into a Workforce Management context, think about your recruiting and hiring process. What other industry (besides maybe the FBI, Secret Service, CIA, etc.) puts so much evaluation and scrutiny into their selection of a new hire? Especially one with no professional experience! How do you hire a recent college grad? Sift through hundreds of resumes? Maybe use a college job fair?

The NFL hiring process is a 2-3 month public boot camp, with physical and mental testing that would result in countless HR violations in most industries. After detailed review of film and analysis of the previous three or four years of on and off the field performance, players are then subjected to the NFL Scouting Combine. At the Combine, all invited players have every aspect of their physical make-up and skill sets measured, documented and ranked. Every test is now not only open to the media, it is broadcast on television! Everything from a players’ speed, strength and agility to their height, weight, wingspan and body fat percentage are made public. Then there is the Wonderlic Test – an IQ test, used by many employers, that is given to all players entering the draft. While this practice is common in many industries, these scores seem to have less of bearing on a prospect’s chances of being hired than in any other industry. Following the combine, players are asked to hold additional workouts – sometimes called Pro Days, where more football specific sessions and interviews are held to showcase their abilities.

Here’s where it gets interesting… when teams begin to hone in on the prospects they want, not only do they perform “reference checks”, they do full blown background investigations. Players that may have questionable character or may have had some type of trouble in the past could be subjected to private investigations. These findings are often also publicized.

What’s fascinating is that will all of this “selection science” used by the NFL, the success rate for top picks is not nearly as high as you would think. The two top draft choices last week were quarterbacks. Will they turn out to be like a Peyton Manning or John Elway, Hall of Fame-bound champions, or a big miss like JaMarcus Russell, David Carr, Tim Couch and Ryan Leaf? With all of the effort put into the selection process, how can that happen? Have you ever hired your top choice candidate, only to be let down when they turn out to miss the mark?

While these NFL Draft pick busts still happen, the selection science seems to be getting better and yielding much more success. Which may just be why more detailed analysis and science is being applied to hiring in the workforce. From healthcare, to hospitality and retail, organizations in almost every industry are improving their hiring process, reducing turnover and strengthening their growth and profitability with more advanced employee selection and hiring.

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