People don't actually 'go' to interviews anymore, you know. Image: Shutterstock

Friday 10th April 2015

Recruitment Disrupted 2: Selection

Tech expert Nick Holmes looks at how assessment is changing – with an emphasis on video interviews and candidate motivation

Last time out in this series about where recruitment is going, we looked at how technology is driving disruption to traditional sourcing and talent engagement approaches. But it’s not just sourcing where major disruption to traditional approaches and supposed best practice is happening.

Selection processes have become a way for future hires to assess how good an employment prospect you are. So you’d better start taking this seriously, because how we select talent is changing fast, and one thing is for sure: this ain’t hiring like your dad did it.

The world where mistakes matter more

In a connected world, making hiring mistakes can have greater impact than it ever did.

The person you hired who just didn’t work out isn’t just bad-mouthing you in the pub, they are now reviewing you and your business on sites like Glassdoor, who have brought to employer brands the same type of peer review scrutiny that TripAdvisor has brought to travel.

So make a mistake, and you are now going to pay for it online every time a potential hire does their research.

The old ways are dead

Way back in time, or around 2005 or so, most hiring decisions were made on instinct. Decisions were based on gut feel, following the wisdom of the crowd, because someone had a good CV, or on basic assessment tools like ability tests.

Turns out though that all these old-time selection criteria don’t correlate well to actual job performance. Google recently announced in the New York Times that academic performance, for instance, has absolutely no correlation to job performance either. So if many of the old time traditional approaches are being called into question, is there a better way?

So where do I go now?

Some of the smartest changes to assessment are coming from turning the whole problem on its head, and thinking about what works for candidates rather than what works for employers.

Hung Lee: ‘What’s important is aptitude, attitude, motivation and values’

London-based start-up Workshape argues that focussing on engagement is all-important. “The coming challenge in recruitment is not finding the people (sourcing), it’s getting them to talk to you (engagement),” argues Hung Lee, Workshape’s founder. “In areas of high demand, the amount of noise candidates receive is overwhelming and the candidates are responding by screening everything out.”

Workshape’s response to the level of noise and pain candidates have to go through has been to re-imagine how selection works by allowing candidates to match themselves to available roles where employers have described the actual job content. And not just that, they are doing it based on motivation, rather than the old-school focus on prior job experience.

‘We are beginning to understand that experience is not a great indicator of future performance,” says Hung. “What is important is aptitude, attitude, motivation and values. The problem is that the traditional artifacts that we use to carry information about people – the CV – is all about experience, and not at all about the factors which make a great employee. “

And there’s more….

Challenging traditional approaches to hiring doesn’t stop with putting the candidate first, or focussing on motivation rather than experience. Digital or video interviewing is challenging the old-time view of how and when an interview takes place, allowing candidates to take an interview where they want, when they want, with no days off or excuses to current bosses.

The result is an engaging selection process for candidates, and importantly great data for employers. And it’s the data to drive better hiring decisions, which starts to explain why major corporate employers are adopting video interviewing so quickly.

The appliance of (data) science

With the growth explosion in the volume of data humans are producing, it’s no surprise that data science has great application in relation to talent selection. The volume of data available gives us many more points of reference on which to base hiring decisions.

A HireVue evaluation page. Image: HireVue


“The idea of data is not new – there’s just a lot more of it. The volume of data available now can be sliced and diced a million different ways. The important thing is knowing what questions to ask and the learning you take from the answers,” explains Darren Jaffrey, General Manager EMEA for leading digital interviewing provider HireVue.

The challenge with recruitment has previously been that the amount of easily available and useful data seemed to be very small, without paying consultants a vast sum of money to conduct days of assessment. Video is helping take that challenge away.

HireVue has spent a lot of time and scientific expertise working out how to use the massive amounts of structured and unstructured data in a video interview. “When structured and unstructured data discovered during a digital interview is compiled and analysed it can be applied to improving hiring decisions, with special emphasis on building great teams,” explains Darren Jaffrey.

So not only can video provide a better and more engaging experience for candidates, it makes hiring decisions better. No surprise that digital interviewing is one of the fastest growing sectors within the HR tech arena, with over a quarter of all companies surveyed in 2014 using video as part of the selection process.

Finishing up – 5 lessons to hire better

With the world changing fast, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. So to make life easy, we’ve listed five steps to start improving your selection process.

Lesson 1 – see what your hiring process is really like

Research Glassdoor and other online candidate communities, and see how you are reviewed. Think about your hiring process. A long and painful process with loads of steps makes you look like a business bound by bureaucracy. At the other extreme, a simple one-stage interview with a hiring manager makes you look like somewhere where not much thinking gets done.

Lesson 2 – walk a day in the candidates’ shoes

Take some time to experience your selection process as a candidate. Ask yourself, does it feel right? Are you really engaged? Then do some calls with people you did and didn’t hire. Ask them how it felt, and also how you compared to the best experience out there. Listen to what they say and start making changes.

Lesson 3 – get digital

You might think digital interviewing isn’t for you. That doesn’t actually matter, because it is about what works for the candidate. Give it a try, put yourself out there and see the difference. Whether you trial one job or go for broke immediately, it’s a step in the right direction.

Lesson 4 – become a data geek

This one might take some collaboration. You can’t become a data scientist overnight. But that’s no excuse for not trying to work out what good selection actually looks like backed by data. If this all seems too tough, there are plenty of products out there that come with built-in insight.

Lesson 5 – never stop learning

For too long most businesses have relied on antiquated practice and not changed much. Now you have started learning, don’t stop. Keep reading, keep learning – and keep hiring better.

About the author

Nick Holmes

From Monday to Friday, HR technology is my world. I help a diverse set of customers get the most they can from HR & elearning technology. It’s a complex world for HR leaders – there are no easy solutions, and no two leaders are the same. Business is changing fast, and HR is changing fastest of all, which keeps life supremely interesting. I’m a zealot about technology, collaboration, authentic leadership and how these are all combining to change the way we will work in the future.