During the recruitment phase, there are several ways that candidates are evaluated. There are recruiters who base their choice on technical skills and those who trust their instincts during the interview whilst others prefer to make decisions based on soft or behavioural skills.
Contrasting approaches can lead to contrasting results. Tackling the question: ‘What are the best practices for consistent (and successful) recruitment?’
Soft skills, the (future) reference for recruiters?
The meta-analysis by Frank L. Schmidt – professor of psychology at the University of Iowa – which covers nearly 31 candidate pre-selection evaluation methods, shows that the majority of new recruits are unsuccessful. 89% of these failed outcomes are due to insufficient consideration of behavioural factors: fuelled in part by an approach that focuses on candidates’ technical skills (hard skills) and their professional/academic background. This selection criteria is the criteria that most people use to write their CVs, which remains a standard in the recruitment process.
However, times are changing and the world of recruitment is no exception. For example, the rise of soft skills is gradually changing the perception recruiters have of candidates. Without denigrating technical skills or making recruitment screening redundant, there is greater emphasis placed on a candidates’ personality, natural talents, cognitive abilities and even on their motivations.
This change in course towards soft skills, when done correctly, offers increased efficiency and more confident predictions for many positions. Even if certain soft skills are in great demand, it is essential to target and choose the skills that are relevant to the position offered, rather than selecting something that is ‘trendy’.
The importance of data and the emergence of artificial intelligence
In traditional recruitment processes, a single person or team of people is responsible for identifying and evaluating the candidate’s soft skills. This practice may be effective depending on the recruiter’s experience, but most of the time, this practice is insufficient.
The very practice of conducting an interview, which is more complex than it is credited for, can result in the recruiter missing certain skills or misunderstanding them due to cognitive biases by which they are influenced – however unaware. This can lead to inconsistent judgments that vary from one candidate to the next. Using data from personality questionnaires to prepare for the interview gives candidates a standardised assessment. This provides an efficient and fair method, and it offers the highest yield when the candidate’s data can be compared with that of internal employees to ensure that desirable personality traits and skills are found.
Some companies decide to go even further by opting for technological solutions, including artificial intelligence. For example, A.I. allows us to develop, for each position in question, a standardised profile. By analysing all the data available for this position, it is then possible to compare the desired-profile with the candidates’ profiles.
This positive perspective of A.I. and technology in recruitment is not shared by all, mainly due to fears of ushering in dehumanising and discriminatory procedures. However, the value of technology in this instance comes from its ability to help and support them – largely by automating tasks where human-factors are not adding value. If recruitment processes are flawed from the start, the effectiveness of artificial intelligence can be questioned. Data sources and recruitment processes – engineered by talent acquisition professionals – are critical to success.
Some make these mistakes during interviews
If there is a time when the recruiter can fully play their role and add their maximum value, it is during the interview process. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid certain pitfalls if we want to maximise the chance to execute a successful recruitment process. One of the first and most obvious pitfalls is not adequately preparing for the interview. Here, the recruiter runs the risk of evaluating candidates in an unequal and inconsistent manner, missing out on interesting profiles. It is therefore important to structure interviews based on specific evaluation criteria. This criteria should not be solely based on the candidate’s CV or the information it contains, but rather their potential and personality, which can’t be found by simply reading their resume.
Finally, a good recruiter positions themselves as the candidate’s equal. They take the approach that the candidate has as much information to offer as they do during the interview. Building an informal exchange is therefore essential in order to establish trust and consequently improve the candidate experience.