Written by Nathan Hewitt

Are you destroying culture through unscientific promotion decisions?

Who you hire and who you promote are the most important decisions you make as an organization.

And if you care about culture, these factors will shape your culture more than anything else you do to drive culture. If you’re not taking hiring seriously, you aren’t walking the most important talk. 

Forget engagement surveys, team one-on-ones and other reactive exercises – without fair hiring, your people will see those measures as they band-aids they are.

AI for recruitment is about more than just efficiency

When we think about using AI for hiring, it’s usually to deliver efficiency, right?

We’re a bit obsessed with efficiency, and in a one-sided way. I understand why: It’s about dollars and cents. It’s measurable. For many recruiters, it’s the difference between keeping and losing their jobs.

But when you think about why AI can be powerful for promotion, it’s very different. It’s not about weeding through thousands of applications and doing that quickly.

It’s suddenly about more than just efficiency – it’s about measurable quality. Quality you can prove, and in a manner that people can trust.

Improving culture through fair internal mobility

You know, as a former CHRO, I fundamentally believe that your job is to build a culture of trust where your people feel that decisions are trustful and the organization is trustful.

How do you create a culture of trust?

You make sure that those important job promotion decisions are made objectively, not subjectively.

And unfortunately, the way they’re still happening in most organizations is people are making those decisions without any data.

So the power of using ethical AI for other internal mobility roles is a huge investment in your culture of trust. I say ethical very deliberately here, because ethical AI is the only way you can deliver a truly fair assessment of talent being considered for leadership roles.

Imagine the experience you have when you’re in an organization and someone gets promoted, and they’re promoted because they’re a friend of the manager.

It just completely diminishes your sense of engagement and kills trust that you have in that organization.

As opposed to a process where everyone goes through an application experience: an interview, and importantly a blind interview – one that is truly looking for the qualities that matter for the role. Things like cognitive ability, personality traits and behaviors.

And no-one knows where you worked in the organization. No-one knows what’s on your resume or the color of your skin or your gender. And when you ignore those factors, you will discover undiscovered talent.

That’s the key benefit of using blind, ethical AI for internal mobility: You will see talent that you, as a human being, are not seeing, because we’re all shaped by the prism of our own experience. We have biases we simply cannot escape.

And, most importantly, you’re putting a massive down payment on trust.

Your people will trust those outcome decisions more than when they’re just made by people.


Accuracy in hiring decisions is not correlated with experience

To find out how to interpret bias in recruitment, we also have a great eBook on inclusive hiring.

It’s the start of the football season in Australia, and I’ve been thinking about how damn hard it must be to coach. Every week you need to revise your game plan, pick the best team to get the match-up right and galvanise your players behind your decisions. You’re constantly adjusting your approach depending on who you are up against, picking different players to counter your opponent’s strengths.

I have heard it said by people who are more football savvy than me that the best coach is the one who can rid him/herself of biases at the decision point of picking the right players for the match.

The well-known Nobel Laureate behavioural economist, Dr Daniel Kahneman, made the same discovery when he first started to work in the space of ‘human decisioning’.

As a young psychologist in the 1950’s, he was tasked with figuring out which recruits to the army should be allocated to which units, infantry, air force etc. 

All the generals of those units strongly asserted that there was a different type for each unit, and they wanted to make allocations that reflected those differences. What Kahneman found over time was that there was no difference between the best soldiers in each part of the army. 

What he observed was the intrusion of the interviewer’s own intuition when interviewing for these roles. Expert judgments were less reliable than they thought. The right algorithms might have solved this.

Accuracy is not correlated with experience. We rely on heuristics, rules of thumb, mental models that rely on similarity with our own past experience. 

The more likely the individual in front of you looks like your mental model of the person you hired last time that “was a great (insert role)”, the more likely you are to see them as a great (insert role).

Confirmation bias is something we see every day in the stock market. A stock price increase does not mean a company is successful. These buying decisions are emotional, not rational. People decisions suffer from the same human frailty.

That’s why Nobel Laureates like Dr Daniel Kahneman and many smart HR leaders are recognising that the only way to interrupt our own biases is with the right technology.

Read Online

Why text conversations work better for graduate assessment

Text is central to our everyday lives.

Texting, emailing, writing, all of this is done in natural language. The revolution in natural language processing is changing the way organisations understand, and make use of text. Using text data as the assessment data is compelling when you consider the facts about texting in our everyday lives.

95% of graduates in advanced economies own a mobile phone. Research from Google has shown that Generation Z prefers texting to all other forms of communication. This includes messaging apps and meeting in-person. This is reflected in open rates being an order of magnitude higher for text messages – 90%. Compare that to email open rates (18%) and response rates (8%).

We have candidates completing our text-based FirstInterview assessment every 2 minutes somewhere in the world. Through this we see data the trend towards mobile-first assessment experiences.

Analysing the behaviour of 41,314 candidates from March 2019 to March 2020, more than one third completed their assessment on mobile,  with applicants saving 40% or more on time to complete it on a mobile vs a desktop.


The Power of Language to Assess Values and Traits

In graduate recruitment and with growing unemployment as a result of COVID-19, humanising your recruitment means using assessments that feel human, that are empathetic and respectful to the candidate’s time and effort, that mirror how we live and work every day.

  • Having a text conversation on a mobile phone.
  • Asking typical interview questions to which graduates can relate, e.g ‘which of our values do you connect with and why?’
  • Asking 5 or 6 questions, that respect every applicant as unique and empowers them to share who they are, in their language, sharing their personal stories.
  • Receiving for your eyes only, personalised and constructive feedback within minutes that deepens your self-awareness

These aspects of the experience enhance trust and engagement leading to a 99% positive sentiment rating.

See for yourself why:  Try it Here > 

Answering 5 open-ended questions generate at least 75 different data points about a person. Even 200 words is enough to reveal your true character and personality.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

It is the combination of NLP (a branch of AI), our unique machine-learning models and our proprietary dataset (containing 25 million words) that form the foundation of our text-based assessment.

Curious to know the science behind the technology? Get in touch with us here

Read Online

What can HR learn about risk management from banks?

The Royal Commission has brought about a lot of scrutiny on the banks, and for good reason. But we have to give them credit where it’s due.

Compared to HR teams across the country, banks know a thing or two when it comes to managing risk.

Which is funny, as I’d argue that hiring a staff member is a much riskier proposition for a business than a bank having one of its customers default on a loan.

Imagine if your bank lent you money with the same process that your average recruiter used to hire for a role.

They would ask you to load all of your personal financial information into an exhaustive application form. Your salary, your weekly spend, your financial commitments. All of it.

The same form would include a lot of probing questions, such as:

  • Will you pay this money back on time?
  • When have you borrowed in the past and paid back on time?
  • Describe a time that you struggled to repay a loan and what you did about it?

Then, assuming your form piqued their interest, they would bring you in for one on one meeting with the bank manager. That manager would grill you with a stern look, asking the same questions. This time though, they will be closely watching your eye movement to see if you were lying when you answered.

In each part of the process, you get a score, and then if that number is above a certain threshold, you get the loan.

It’s almost laughable, right?

Banks wouldn’t have any customers if they used that approach.

Only people who desperately need money would put themselves through that process. And they’re likely not the best loan candidates.

Banks work hard to attain incredibly high accuracy levels in assessing loan risk.

Meanwhile in HR, if you use turnover as a measure of hiring accuracy its as low as 30–50% per cent in some sectors. If you combine both turnover and performance data (how many people who get hired really raise a company’s performance), it might be even lower than that.

Banks wouldn’t exist if their risk accuracy was anywhere close to those numbers.

Well, that’s how most recruitment currently works — just usually involving more people.

There are more parallels here than you think.

Just like a bank manager, every recruiter wants to get it right and make the best decisions for the sake of their employer. As everyone in HR knows, hiring is one of the greatest risks a business can take on.

But they are making the highest risk decision for an organisation based on a set of hypotheses, assumptions and lots of imperfect data.

So, let’s flip the thought experiment.

What if a bank’s risk management department was running recruitment? What would the risk assessment look like?

Well, the process wouldn’t involve scanning CVs, a 10-minute phone call, a face to face interview and then a decision.

That would be way too expensive given exponentially more people apply for jobs than apply for loans each year. Not to mention the process itself is too subjective.

I suspect they would want objective proof points on what traits make a candidate successful in a role, data that matches the candidate against those proof points and finally, further cross-validation with other external sources.

They wouldn’t really care if you were white, Asian, gay female. How could you possibly generalise about someone’s gender, sexuality or ethnicity and use it as a lead indicator of hiring risk. (Yet, in HR this is still how we do it.)

Finally, they’d apply a layer of technology to the process. They would make it a positive customer experience for the candidates and with a mobile-first design. Much like a loan, you’ll lose your best customers if the funnel is long and exhaustive.

I’m not saying that banks are a beacon of business. The Royal Commission definitely showed otherwise. But for the most part, they have gotten with the times and upgraded their processes to better manage their risk. It’s time HR do the same.

Suggested Reading:

The CHRO Should Manage Bias Like the CFO Manages the Financials

What Job is HR Being Hired to do?

You can try out Sapia’s Chat Interview right now, or leave us your details to book a demo

Read Online