New approaches to recruitment

New technology is throwing up some interesting ways of approaching the recruitment process.

One trend is the growing number of platforms which allow for video interviewing. These have the potential to reduce both time and expense from the shortlisting process, says Matt Craven of CV & Interview Advisers.

“There is a lot of administration and coordination involved in reducing 100 applicants to a longer shortlist then getting that down to five or six people you want to interview face to face. What if you could just jump into a website, go to a database and choose from up to 6,000 interview questions, drag and drop around 10 of them into an area of your screen and email candidates to be interviewed by webcam by the programme?” There are several existing programmes which use actors to pose the questions or post them on-screen.

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“The hiring manager can watch the videos on their phone or tablet and if they find that the person is not right within the first few minutes they don’t have to sit through the whole interview as they would have to if it were face to face. It saves a lot of time and it is up to 1,000 per cent cheaper than a standard first round face to face interview. It gives the hiring manager more time to focus on the second round of interviews.”

Management and leadership consultant Jane Sparrow, author of The Culture Builders, agrees that using web technology can help the sifting process. She says:  “The cv usually just tells you whether the person is competent – and so that’s important – but go beyond it. I’ve conducted a lot of recruitment first conversations via Skype – with a webcam – for a general chat. Then progressed where it feels there might be some chemistry. That helps me immediately see whether the candidates are energised and hungry or whether their cv has gone out to hundreds without any real appetite to be part of what you stand for … Even though Skype, body language can tell you a huge amount. Energy and tone are easy to assess.”

Craven also singles out psychometric tests as having progressed tremendously since they were first introduced. These are tests which measure a skill such as verbal, numerical, abstract or mechanical reasoning and questionnaires used to find out about a candidate’s personality type, learning style or career choices. “A lot of companies have yet to embrace the power of the tests which are now on the market which are proven to be good at what they do,” he says. “Instead of the old multiple choice questions, many of the newer tests are like virtual games which assess people’s critical thinking skills.”

Some use second life to test whether candidates are commercially minded. “Gaming is the way it’s going,” says Matt. “It’s a natural evolution as the younger generation tend to be gamers and the games give you a feel for how they will behave and think in certain situations.”

He mentions the Cyber Security Challenge UK, a three-hour gaming event which involves candidates taking on the role of forensics and defence specialists working for the UK Government and attempting to outsmart cyber crime. They then present their findings to a panel and recommend what action should be taken. The most successful candidates get offered jobs in companies where internet security is key.

Social media

Social media is also key. For recruitment consultant Angela Maclaren, author of Getting into work – you CAN do it, employers need to make the most of social media to widen their potential talent pool, including using Facebook job boards. She says: “To get the right candidates coming to them whether recruiting or not, employers should look at their own online status. Keep up to date blogs, have a team creating a positive online reputation, doing campaigns etc. so the candidates looking for work or people already working but fancying a change in job/career or looking at the hidden job market will have that company in mind and be encouraged to write in speculatively.”

Sparrow agrees. “If you want to really recruit the right person then you need to take apart the traditional model of CV sifting and iterative recruitment processes,” she says. “99 percent of companies recruit when their back is against the wall – either someone’s left, or work has increased to the point of expansion – effectively you are in a seller’s market. My advice is to make it an ongoing process – establish LinkedIn groups that are for people interested in working with the company, have ‘no-job-yet’ meetings with people to build a relationship and see who is keen enough to engage with you without the definite prospect of a role. Encourage your own employees to be part of this – providing recommendations for this pool of potential people, and meeting some of them.

“The important shift to make is that recruitment isn’t a transactional process that’s done quickly – well, not if you want to get it right. Organisations that realise it takes time to build relationships, talk to people and have them meet other colleagues over coffee as part of the process are those that attract and retain the best talent. If you’re just relying on CVs you’re in a transitional process. People have more networks than ever these days so ensure your managers and recruiters are well connected. Be in it for the long term. Ideally, you want to get to the point where you’re desperate for a role to open up because you’ve got some amazing potentials. This requires more work, but will result in far better choices on both sides.”

Application forms

But there are still some areas of recruitment which can be improved without the aid of technology or new media, says Matt Craven. His particular bugbear is employers who get people to send in a cv. He says application forms are much better at helping employers get an insight into whether the candidate is suitable for the job as employers can dictate the kind of information that goes into them.

Linda Whittern, Director of Careers Partnership, says one of the main areas employers can improve their recruitment process is better preparation. This begins with “finding out exactly what skills and experience are needed to do the job well before you advertise it”.  Linda advises: “You do this by having frank, probing conversations (separately) with the person leaving the job and with their manager.”

A list of essential and desirable attributes is then drawn up and only those who meet all the essential attributes are selected, then the applications are sifted for desirable attributes. Linda adds that many recruiters still don’t prepare properly for the interview either.

“Recruiters still make the mistake of not preparing properly for interviews.  They should know the details about the job (job description and person specification) and the candidates’ details by heart – they often don’t … which is unprofessional of them, a dreadful experience for applicants (who’ve often put their hearts and souls into making good applications) and a source of unnecessary risk for their organisations,” she says.

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