Lloyd has worked within recruitment for over twelve years; starting in agency consultant roles, and eventually moving his way up to Recruitment Manager. He has also worked in several internal Talent Acquisition and Continuous Improvement roles in a variety of companies.
Lloyd is a specialist when it comes to data-driven recruitment and process improvement. One of his passions is to apply tried and tested models to make for better processes within recruitment - a true expert in other words.
It is our pleasure to host Lloyd on our blog this week. Lloyd, the floor is all yours!
There are many factors that affect our decision-making in recruitment: the candidate’s CV, their personal appearance, their references and the skills and experience of the recruiter, to name a few. Sometimes assessing a candidate is easy, sometimes it’s not. Today I want to talk about how recruiters assess candidates, and the importance of being self-aware throughout this process.
We need to be self-aware, as our personal views will affect the hiring decisions we will make. We have our personal inclinations, likes, dislikes, etc. and our decision-making can be compromised by flaws in our own perception and judgement. I want to shed light on how these judgements and perceptions affect our decision-making and how to remove these blind spots.
What do I mean when I say blind spots? Similarly to blind spots when driving a motor vehicle, neglecting an area in recruitment can also negatively affect our decision-making. In this blog post, I will share potential blind spots in employee retention, candidate experience and when hiring solely on hard skills. I will also share some common perception biases that can affect our decision-making in recruitment.
Biases in recruitment
One of the most talked about factors to make better hires. There are common biases that are often spoken of in the recruitment context, so I thought I’d focus on three biases that are less spoken of.
- Affinity bias – The tendency to favour people who share similar interests, backgrounds, and experiences with us. Based on my experience, affinity bias can cause us to reject candidates that have different backgrounds and experiences than common candidates. Combating affinity bias is important, especially in a candidate's short market. As an example, we hired a former IT support specialist into our recruitment team because of her drive, people skills and up-front commitment to get up to speed with the rest of the team. This worked out very well in what we needed to achieve in our recruitment campaign!
- Illusory correlation – When the recruiter or hiring manager assumes that there is a connection between a trait and a competency. For example, if a candidate is energetic and social in an interview, it might be assumed that this candidate is great in client-facing roles. Asking questions on how the candidate has performed and behaved will help to make a better assessment. In addition, asking referees questions on observed behaviour will also give you a data point to better assess if the candidate is the right fit for the role.
- Intuition bias – When a recruiter or hiring manager has too much trust in their intuition or gut feeling on the candidate. This is a very common recruitment mistake. Intuition bias can be mitigated by applying a structure based on the job description and keeping a scoring system, rather than basing your decision on a feeling.
If you are interested in learning more about bias in recruitment, I would encourage you to have a read of the following material:
Below are some helpful resources on bias:
- Robert Cialdini’s Seven Principles of Persuasion.
- Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.
- Dian Campbell’s Unconscious Bias.
The basic principle of retention is that the longer a well-performing employee stays, the more value they provide to their employer. This article by Maia Josebachvili goes into further detail on employee retention. How to understand the ROI of investing in People.
Looking at the graph above, you can see that on and offboarding activities have lower output. During the onboarding and post-offboarding, there is a financial loss. It is not until three to twelve months into the role that the candidate starts becoming profitable. Along with this, the ideal environment and culture, allow the employee to excel further and become highly productive long-term. The below graph shows the difference in output level when retaining a successful salesperson long-term versus short-term.
Above, the turquoise area is the output covered by a successful salesperson who is a long-term fit for the role. The grey area is the output covered by a less successful salesperson who resigns after twenty-three months. Given that the output of a salesperson is very easy to measure, the value of retention becomes very clear in this example. The output for other jobs will be similar, but the retention value should be adjusted for each role.
This is why a great fit is key, for both the candidate and the company. Keeping happy employees for a longer period is simply more rewarding. Having a long-term strategy can make your TA department a much more valuable part of the business!
Measuring Soft skills
Throughout my career, I have recruited many technical roles. In my experience, hiring teams often overlook the value of soft skills for expertise occupations such as engineering, trades qualified and licensed roles. In order to assess both hard and soft skills, I keep a scoring system during the recruitment process. This involves setting measurable scores for both hard and soft skills. The soft skills assessment can be more challenging to measure, but there are effective ways to solve this.
A common model to measure soft skills is the STAR model:
This model asks how the candidate has acted in a particular situation, what the task at hand was, their action and the result of that action. This can tell you a lot about a candidate's approach where there is a higher emphasis on soft skills.
For example, in the scenario of hiring a technically competent project lead, a lack of proper communication skills may put both project timeline and outcome in jeopardy. Without proper engagement and communication from the project lead, the goals of the project will be ambiguous for the involved teams. As a result, there may be frustrations within the associated teams, delayed timelines and possible resignations from the project. All in all, the project will be more difficult to finish than expected.
Blind spots within the candidate experience can impact the employer brand and the ability to attract top talent. It is important to provide a positive and efficient recruitment experience for candidates from start to finish. This includes clear communication, timely feedback, a respectful and professional approach, as well as an understanding of the candidate's point of view.
It can be difficult to identify blind spots in the candidate experience. Adding structure and making an effort to continuously improve your candidate experience will help to reveal blind spots and remedy them. Creating a blueprint for your candidate experience and having it in writing is a great way to start discovering your blind spots. As you improve on your candidate experience, update your blueprint continuously.
Some basic tips on candidate experience:
- Undergo the application process yourself to see what it’s like.
- Enable the “connect with us” button which most Applicant Tracking Systems have to send communication for establishing relationships with candidates.
- Inform the candidate on the steps of the recruitment process and keep away from ad hoc steps.
- During the candidates’ onboarding, arrange 1-2-1 meetings with several people and roles within the company.
- Establish a relationship-driven offboarding program in order to maintain long-term relationships with former employees. The candidate may come back for a different role in the future.
- Conduct surveys with candidates after the recruitment process on their experience.
It is important to understand that human decision-making is not objective. We all have our pre-set inclinations, preferences, stereotypes and judgements. However, knowing these can make a huge difference in making better decisions.
In recruitment, we can at times struggle with objectivity as well. There is a battle of interest between the candidate and the recruiter, which skews information and makes data collection biased. To make better hiring decisions, I recommend a measurable and structured process. As an example, I like to score candidates throughout the hiring process on specific skills, culture fit, role fit etc., to make the process more data-driven. Using data this way will help recruiters limit their own biases. It takes time to set up a structured process, but the value that is gained will help recruiters assess the right things, limit blind spots and consistently make better hiring decisions.
In order to continuously improve your process and uncover blind spots, I have one last recommendation that will help you along with what we have covered in this blog post. This is something that very few recruitment teams do today: Follow up on candidates who have performed well in their jobs. By looking at successful candidates, we can reverse engineer our recruitment process, improve the feedback loop of what is working and ensure success within the company.
Do you want to know more about digital reference checking and how it can help you make better recruitment decisions? Get in touch!