Candidate Assessment – You’re too good to be true

interviewThe recruitment industry has historically got such a low barrier to entry even the recently discovered Kawahiva tribe in the Amazon basin has already opened its first agency there without much trouble.

Unregulated yet unchecked, the best recruiters have continued to reinvent themselves along the way in a manner that would make Madonna blush. The better ones can tell you Boolean Strings isn’t a folk music instrument and branding isn’t what American Cowboys use to locate their cattle. Today, every recruiter who wishes to remain relevant in a fractured world of work should be rightfully applauded for their own specific 10,000 hours of mastery.

With one exception. The assessment process itself. Greatness here resides with the business psychologist and the recruiter is still tied to an unstructured interview that has slightly more validity than checking your star sign.

Let’s remember that this corner of the recruitment world remains the coup de grace at the end of the 3cs of recruitment :

  1. chasing the elusive, passive prospect (typically through a previous experience word search on the CV);
  2. catching them (through an increasingly devilish play on words in an Inmail that seduces the prospect into believing you had a movement down below when seeing their work on Github);
  3. capturing them on a talent list, community or pipeline (with the hook of a corporate video on the careers site showing how whacky the office is or a company purpose that overstates the reality of what is a simple exchange of labour for pay and benefits).

When it comes to converting the candidate (frankly the reason the CEO provided lots of money for Tech and people in the first place) to employee (whatever that increasingly means) we remain beholden to what our grandparents experienced with the only difference being we’ve stuck it on-line.

You see, for all the developments we’ve made along the way elsewhere, assessment has remained untouched in the last couple of generations. Those protective psychologists have been historically responsible for creating a valid but ultimately poorly deployed user experience complete with expensive training sessions as a pre-requisite. The entry into the digital era has been largely resisted and at times resented by the psychologists. My favourite anecdote remains when one of the established assessment players told me that they resist any mobile-enabled delivery as it demonstrates that unless a candidate is sitting in a quiet room on something called a personal computer then they aren’t taking the thing seriously !

So, if that’s the establishment then no great surprise that we’ve seen smaller, more nimble players emerge seizing the user experience agenda (candidate and recruiter) and disrupting the marketplace.

Our search for job and culture fit remains the promised land at the end of the recruitment journey. For enlightened Talent Leaders there’s recognition this area fuels toxic candidate experiences – at one end unstructured interviews drive biased decisions lacking validity, which we find hard to explain adequately. At the other end we too often produce expensive on-line assessments to post-rationalise selection decisions especially for senior roles. Check many boutique search firms and this is exactly what they do on the final 2 or 3 it seems, usually to justify their large retained fee.

Vendors that now begin to recognise the power of our social footprint online will seize the next phase of development by using this data. The impact is huge and beyond recruitment into engagement, culture and productivity where a constant, frictionless assessment of all of us at work can be driven without us even knowing. Too many barriers for widespread adoption has hampered its growth so far but as the digital world becomes increasingly omnipotent it’s hard to think this won’t be the next phase. The 30 minute on-line culture assessment and Situational Job Test (SJT) will go the way of the ugly annual employee survey and performance review.

The talented HRD and the open-minded recruiter will continue to adapt accordingly as products emerge into the ecosystem with a need to sew it together with APIs until an enterprise-wide solution hits the jackpot. However, perhaps one consequence may be the end of the occupational psychologist as the data scientist overtakes them as kingpin of the assessment world.

Until next time. Are you ready ?

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One thought on “Candidate Assessment – You’re too good to be true

  1. The sooner we get away from random, amateur, unstructured interviews the better. Sadly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Newly promoted, and even very experienced hiring managers are rarely trained in conducting interviews that will accurately and consistently determine the better candidates, and are then left to make it up as they go along – somehow inventing their own Heath Robinson method as they go. Even more dangerous is when these numb-skulls try to pass on what they know to the next generation of interviewers.

    In my book, no line manager (or supposed recruiter) should be allowed within 40 yards of an interviewee until they are decently trained. It’s really not rocket science

    Equally, there are some fantastic assessment tools out there, which are being willfully misused in the wrong hands. By that, I do not mean that trained psychologists are at all necessary. Most fantastic products have no need of psychological interpretation at £200 per hour. The truth is that solid, useful reports on individuals can be produced for the equivalent of £10-30 per assessment, and are valuable, when used as part of a calorie controlled diet / sorry a well structured hiring process. Assess at the point of application, give everyone a summary report, use the report to inform (and prompt) the interviewer to probe areas of concern, and Robert’s your mother’s brother!

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