Benchmarking Basics: Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

The State of Hiring





The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the world in a few short months, and one aspect of daily life that has been hugely affected is the job market. Before the pandemic, there was a war for talent and an enormous human resource crisis. Businesses were competing for the consideration of quality candidates, and the U.S. was enjoying a historically low unemployment rate. All of that feels like a dream to workers in our current situation; unemployment is the highest it has been since the Great Depression in the U.S., and many businesses are struggling, period.

However, this means your business is in a unique position to find a perfect fit for your next open role. If your business is stable enough to consider hiring soon, you will now have access to a higher quality talent pool than ever before, as more professionals are on the market and looking for work. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to prepare. On the contrary, now is the time to polish up your hiring process and make sure it works well for your organization. Consider benchmarking! This process is an upfront investment that will save you money, resources and frustration in the long run. I had a conversation with Sarah Merkle, TTI SI’s VP of People, to answer all the questions you might have about benchmarking. Here’s how you can use it, why the process works so well, and what to do to move forward, right now.

What is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking is the process of creating the profile of the ideal candidate for a position, and then measuring all candidates against that profile. It’s most commonly used in the interview process, but can also be used to measure an employee in their current role.

How Do You Create and Use a Benchmark?

The ideal candidate means a lot of different things to different people. This diversity of thought is a good thing, until it becomes a hindrance to the hiring process. Get the multiple perspectives you need while saving time by putting together a team of Subject Matter Experts, or SMEs. While a panel of SMEs is not necessary, it is a best practice. It can include employees who previously held the role, the candidate’s future direct report, and/or their future co-workers.

“Working in a collaborative environment with multiple stakeholders gets you a variety of opinions and removes internal biases and personal agendas.”

The SMEs each build out the results of an assessment as if they were their ideal candidate. Then, an average is found from each of those ‘ideal’ profiles. This average is your benchmark! After the benchmark is created, introduce it several steps into your interview process, after the initial rounds of reviews. Most organizations only use a benchmark with their top 3-5 candidates. This way, the normal screening process isn’t disrupted; it just gives deeper insight into each candidate, and a professional way to measure that insight at the end of the process.