Alex Catalán Flores

Lawyer | Management Consultant. Full-time as Head of Operations at Suvita, a Charity Entrepreneurship-incubated nonprofit focused on increasing the uptake of child immunisations in India.

I write on Medium from time to time:

Hit me up if you wanna talk smack or play some AoE4.


Sorted by New

Topic Contributions


Hiring: How to do it better

Brilliant post. I have been reading about and dabbling in evidence-led HR for some time, and on my to-do list was writing this exact post for the forum (although I suspect mine would've likely been of a significantly lower quality, so I'm not mad at all that you beat me to it) 

How can an organization effectively use intelligence tests & personality tests in hiring, while avoiding/minimizing legal risks? I know that many are rubbish, but are they all varying degrees of rubbish, or are some of them noticeably better than the rest? How good is Wonderlic? The gap between this can help you select better applicants and here are the details of how to implement this seem fairly large. What research has been done in the recent two decades?

I didn't see you cite it, but I assume you've come across Schmidt's 2016 update to his '85 years' paper? See here

I do think that such a quiz should be used with caution, as it can make the hiring process feel fairly impersonal for the applicant. Depending on what population you want to recruit from, some applicants may strongly prefer human contact rather than to use a quiz, so much then when prompted to do the quiz they choose to drop out of the application process.

I wasn't aware of that China-specific example you outline in the footnote, so it's a nice reminder that cross-cultural considerations are important and often surprising. However,  that aside,  in general I sense that it's a win-win if applicants drop out of the process because they don't like the initial quiz-based filtering process. Self-selection of this kind saves time on both ends. While candidates might think it impersonal, I have a strong prior against using that as a reason to change the initial screening to something less predictive like CV screening.  

perhaps I'll find answers to some of these questions during the coming months as I continue to work my way through my to-read list

Would be curious to see this list, for my own purposes :)

For some jobs, it is easy to create work sample tests, but for a lot of knowledge work jobs it is hard to think up what a good work sample test could be. I'd love to see some kind of a work sample test example book, in which example work samples for many different jobs are written out. Does something like this exist?

How to create good structured interviews? The gap between this is more effective than unstructured interviews and here are the details of how to implement this seem fairly large. Are there resources that go more in-depth than re:Work?

I often hear people asking for resources like this. Like you, I suspect that the significant effort investment required in closing the implementation gap is what keeps some people form implementing more predictive selection methods. 

I'm not sure what your MO is, but I'd be keen to collaborate on future posts you're thinking of writing or even putting together some resources for the EA community on some of the above (e.g. example work samples, index of General Mental Ability tests, etc). Won't be offended if you prefer to work solo; we can always stay in touch to ensure we're not both going to publish the same thing at the same time :)

Organizational alignment

OP -- I'm curious to hear your thoughts about investing greater energy into making goals more 'legible', as you put it. It strikes me that organisational alignment via loyalty + compensation + culture + management + hiring is circumventing the main problem, which is that the organisation's goals aren't clear. 

For example, couldn't an organisation whose North Star is to “do research to determine priorities for making the long-term future go well" create alignment by breaking down that overarching aim into its constituent goals? I'm spit-balling here, but one such constituent goal could be to "Become a research powerhouse", which would in turn be measured by a number of concrete and verifiable metrics such as "Publish X policy briefs" and/or "Double number of downloads on knowledge products on the website".   These goals would be fleshed out and discussed in detail, then published for everyone to see (or even create sub-goals for specific teams/departments). One could even publish them online so that external candidates can see them during recruitment rounds. The overarching idea is that being able to assess the organisation's goals will allow people to self-select, both in terms of the work they're doing but also in terms of their personal fit within the organisation, leading to greater alignment as people re-focus or exit. 

It's likely very obvious by now, but I'm putting forward John Doerr's Objectives & Key Results framework. It's hugely popular these days, and I'll be the first to admit a bias toward it. Doerr's broader point, however, is that one of the benefits of better goal-setting is organisational alignment:

A two-year Deloitte study found that no single factor has more impact than “clearly defined goals that are written down and shared freely. . . . Goals create alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction.”

My curiosity regarding your thoughts on this arises purely because your original post doesn't mention better goal-setting as a way to generate alignment. I also haven't come across many critiques about the better goal-setting = alignment assumption, so any thoughts on that vein would be very interesting to hear 

EA and the current funding situation

Couldn't agree more, Rob. Perhaps my perception is coloured by my own experience and circle of friends, but there certainly seems to be a subset of people out there who genuinely enjoy scaling organisations. I think this is particularly the case in the for-profit sphere, where feedback loops are sometimes instantaneous thus leading to increased satisfaction among the scale-up types.