Written by Nathan Hewitt

What job is HR being hired to do?

Are you measuring yourself using the right metrics?

We ask this question often to drive our product strategy. In a software company, it’s very easy to get caught up in a landslide of features and topics and in a dynamic world of competition and feature parity, product roadmaps can easily get cluttered. It may seem overly simplistic, but it works.

In our case, we are being hired to save our customers time and money in recruitment.

  • 55,000 hours saved in one year  from using our screening tool top of the funnel
  • 500k cash cost savings from doubling conversion from assessment centres
  • Churn reduction of 30% in 12 months from relying on our predictions

Click here for some examples of hours and $’s saved by our customers.

By asking this simple question — what job is HR being hired to do?— you can start to get to the heart of what your strategy should be. And then measure that religiously!

Like product roadmaps in a tech company, HR’s roadmap too can get confused or cluttered by:

> New Trends (CX- candidate experience, EX-employee experience, AI everything)

> Survey fatigue – culture diagnostics, engagement surveys, exit surveys, 1000’s of verbatim to read

> Process fatigue – performance management processes, 9 box, the annual salary review process, post engagement survey processes, and so on

> New system implementations– that can potentially crowd out  low friction  and affordable solutions to drive down business costs

All of this activity can produce more noise than signal because it can easily miss the “why”. And once an HR function is more mature, it can be even more difficult to understand which of the many elements of HR are the ones truly driving the most value for the business.

Here are some tips to ensure your HR team is clear on their job:

1. Make sure it is the CEO’s definition of the job, not yours. Read our second article for more of the CEO perspective.

2. Define the job so it delivers on either lead or lag indicators that are proven to impact on your organisation’s business performance. For example, for a sales business, time to hire matters a lot. Having to wait 45 days to fill a sales role vs 10 days means 35 days of lost sales. That flows straight through to the bottom line. Engagement scores, on the other hand, are neither a proven lead or lag indicator of business performance. Engagement measured from a survey is more of a vanity metric.

3. Ensure that you are looking at the whole job, not just a piece of the job. It’s easy to get too narrow in your definition

Suggested Reading:


A thought experiment: 65 of the best Candidate Experience Quotes

On this page

Background to the ‘thought experiment’ on Candidate Experience

Search for “Candidate Experience” on Google and you will get in the region of 2.3M results. “Wow, that’s a lot!”

Yet do the same search for “Customer Experience” and you will 56x that amount – with a whopping 132,000,000 results delivered to you. Also, have a look at Google Search trends over the past 10 years and, this is what you will see. Overall, there is very little interest in “Candidate Experience” when compared to “Customer Experience”.

The same trend exists in books. Search Amazon for “Customer Experience” and there are over 1000 books written. However, if you do the same search for “Candidate Experience” and theres a pithy 20 books.

To borrow from our recent blog on The Two Big Reasons To Prioritise Improving Candidates’ Experience In 2020: Candidate experience is defined as the perception of a job seeker about an organisation and their brand based on their interactions during the recruiting process. Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey. Is there a difference?

It’s all about how the human feels when interacting with your brand. Thus, it’s all about the human and candidate experience. 

Let’s take the best famous quotes on “customer experience” and change them to “candidate experience”.

What could we learn from that ‘thought experiment”? We borrowed Blake Morgan’s article in Forbes as a source. Some of these quotes should be read as if your full-time role is in Talent Acquisition.

These could provide a source of inspiration for your next retrospective or “Lessons Learnt” on Candidate Experience.

  • Is there anything we’re doing well when it comes to candidate experience?
  • Can we be doing anything better?
  • What are we not doing that needs to start?
  • Is there anything we’re doing that must be stopped?

Candidate Experience Thinking

“We see our candidates as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the candidate experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

“Candidate experience isn’t an expense. Managing candidate experience bolsters your brand.” – Stan Phelps

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

“Make the candidate the hero of your story.” – Ann Handley

“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” – Walt Disney

“If you don’t care, your candidate never will.” – Marlene Blaszczyk

“Loyal candidates, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.” – Chip Bell

“Candidate experience better be at the top of your list when it comes to priorities in your organization. Candidate experience is the new marketing.” – Steve Cannon

“Building a good candidate experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.” – Clare Muscutt

“Exceptional candidate experiences are the only sustainable platform for competitive differentiation.” – Kerry Bodine

Candidate-Focused Culture

“Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Candidates are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.” – Ian Schafer

“Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.” – Earl Nightingale

“Your mission statement may be on the wall, but your core values are displayed in the attitudes of your employees.” – Elle Clarke

“So, get to know your candidates. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.” – Kristin Smaby

“Treat each candidate as if they are the only one!” – Laurice Leitao

“The key is to set realistic candidate expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them—preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.” – Richard Branson

“Revolve your world around the candidate and more candidates will revolve around you.” – Heather Williams

“To earn the respect (and eventually love) of your candidates, you first have to respect those candidates.” – Colleen Barrett

“How you think about your candidate influences how you respond to them.” – Marilyn Suttle

“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand” – Howard Schultz

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

“Ease your candidates’ pain.” – Hazel Edwards

Candidate Service

“Your most unhappy candidates are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

“Courteous treatment will make a candidate a walking advertisement.” – J.C. Penney

“Good candidate service costs less than bad candidate service.” – Sally Gronow

“Candidate service is an opportunity to exceed your candidate’s expectations.” – John Jantsch

“It is so much easier to be nice, to be respectful, to put yourself in your candidate’s’ shoes and try to understand how you might help them before they ask for help, than it is to try to mend a broken candidate relationship.” – Mark Cuban

“Only once candidate service has become habitual will a company realize its true potential.” — Than Merrill

“Candidates don’t care about your policies. Find and engage the need. Tell the candidate what you can” – Alice Sesay Pope

“Here is a powerful yet simple rule. Always give people more than they expect to get.” – Nelson Boswell

“A lot of people have fancy things to say about candidates service, but it’s just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, persevering, compassionate kind of activity.” – Christopher McCormick

“We have entered the era of the candidates. Today, providing candidates with outstanding candidate service is essential to building loyal candidates and a long-lasting brand.” – Jerry Gregoire

“Great candidate service doesn’t mean that the candidate is always right, it means that the candidate is always honoured.” – Chris LoCurto


Candidate Focused Marketing

“The first step in exceeding your candidate’s expectations is to know those expectations.” – Roy H. Williams

“Satisfied candidate is the best source of advertisement” – G.S. Alag

“Making candidate evangelists is about creating experiences worth talking about.” – Valeria Maltoni

“No amount of advertising can repair the damage done by failing to properly address a candidate’s concern.” – Albert Schindler

“Candidates who love you will market for you more powerfully than you can possibly market yourself.” – Jeanne Bliss

“If you want to be a good brand and have a value exchange with the candidate… you’ve got to have the listening mechanisms that can catch up to the candidate as well.” – Kelly Soligon

“People don’t just buy your products that they can see; they buy your attitude that they can sense” – Roxanne Emmerich

“Just having satisfied candidates isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.” – Ken Blanchard

“Happy candidates are your biggest advocates and can become your most successful sales team.” – Lisa Masiello

Candidate-Focused Leadership

“Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do, if you are to bring it to your candidate interactions.” – Betsy Sanders

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ – Brian Tracy

“Your candidate doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Damon Richards

“When you serve the candidate better, they always return on your investment.” – Kara Parlin

“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Teddy Roosevelt

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the candidate first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc

“Being in a curiosity mindset means being fascinated by your candidates and their reactions.” – Jake Knapp

“Treat the candidate like you would want to be treated. Period!” – Brad Schweig

“Never lose sight of candidates. Always be focusing on meeting their needs and expectations.” – Sue Duris

Candidate Experience Playbook 2020: Hire with Heart

The good news is that for those organisations who genuinely want to improve candidate experience, it has become much easier to do so. It is now straightforward to give great experiences at scale while also driving down costs and improving efficiencies.

Alas, the win-win is easily attainable. In the Sapia Candidate Experience Playbook, read how organisations are hiring with heart. All done by creating positive experiences for candidates while also decreasing the workload for the hiring team.

Read Online

Trust is the leadership and organisational trait for the times 

A special Roy Morgan survey on ‘Trust’ and ‘Distrust’ of government leaders showed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scores the highest ‘Net Trust Score’ of all. This means that the ‘Trust’ felt toward the New Zealand leader far outweighs the ‘Distrust’. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has highest ‘Net Trust Score’ of all political leaders while Australian PM Scott Morrison has a ‘Net Distrust Score’ to overcome.

At this very challenging time, Jacinda Arden has stood up to the task. Her ratings are off the charts. How did she do it?

She has built a trusted personal Prime Ministerial brand through her casual clothes and addressing of the people via youtube, whilst sitting on her couch at home, after putting her kids to bed.

It’s the trust that gets you through the dark times when you have to ‘furlough’ and somehow retain the commitment and loyalty of thousands of your people

For big-name consumer brands, your customers are both the people in the store buying your products and the people who want to work for you. When you only have so many jobs to go around and your candidates are an extension of your consumer reach, give them dignity. You can do even better and give them a hand up, just by changing how you recruit.

For any relationship, trust starts early. That means trust starts to grow from your very first interactions with your future employee – from your application process through to how you conduct your interviews.

In our current reality of having to work from home and to interview remotely, building trust can be even more of a challenge.

If your Recruitment and HR team are looking to grow trust fast, here are 3 shortcuts by which our customers swear.

1. It’s the end of the black box era – give every applicant feedback

With technology now in the market that ensures every single applicant receives fast automated personalised learning from their interview. There is no excuse for black-box recruiting.

Historically, recruitment is laden with ambiguity and secrecy.

Requiring a live conversation with an org psych if you ever wanted to know your results from sitting your 3-hour psychometric test

Receiving the ubiquitous reject email or call – you don’t meet the requirements of the role, or worse, ‘you are not a good culture fit’

The known unknown- that it could be weeks or even months until you know whether you get the job

2. Expectations have changed enormously for job seekers too.

Even a few years ago, we wouldn’t question the black box of recruitment, the lack of a reply. We wouldn’t expect to receive feedback from an interview. Or to be asked to give feedback

Any company can introduce a feedback request into their recruitment, but giving feedback requires real smarts if you don’t want to kill trust.

And that feedback needs to be meaningful, relatable useful and ideally immediate. A feature enabled only by AI and only by smart human AI.

Today you can access smart AI to give every applicant that learning opportunity. And why wouldn’t you make that a priority in a world of growing unemployment and more disappointed candidates?

Plus, for a consumer brand, their candidate pool is usually also their consumer base and the bigger the brand, the more rejections they give out. In some cases, they are rejecting candidates in 6 figures. Which makes the candidate experience vital for the business even more than for your EVP.

No matter how many candidates apply for a job opening, enhance trust by giving every one of them automated personalised feedback.

3. Kill the bias – commit to genuine blind screening

Barb or Buddhi? Who do you think has a greater likelihood of getting the interview? I don’t like my name much, but I don’t believe it’s ever been a factor in my career opportunities. Unlike Buddhi, my co-founder. When I interviewed Buddhi for the role, he said he had experienced the ‘name’ discrimination himself.

An NYT article reminded us that simply having a ‘white name’ presents a distinct advantage in getting a job. Call-backs for that group being 50% higher. We have already written about the fact that no amount of bias training will make us less bias.

We worry intensely about the amplification of lies and prejudices from the technology that fuels Facebook. Yet do we hold the mirror up to ourselves and check our tendency to hire in our image? How many times have you told a candidate they didn’t get the job because they were not the right “culture fit”?

The truth is that we humans are inscrutable in a way that algorithms are not. This means we are often not accountable for our biases. And bias training has been proven not to be an effective guard against biased hiring.

Enhance trust with your applicants by committing to blind screening, at least at the top of the funnel. While it’s tempting in a world of ‘zoom everywhere’, video interviews are the opposite of blind screening.

Similarly relying on AI that uses deep learning models to find the best match, also don’t endear themselves to building trust with your applicant pool. They make explainability a real challenge for the recruiters.


Suggested Reading:

To book a discussion with Sapia – click here – we would love to chat

Read Online

Chat-based interviews reliably predict job fit

To find out how to improve candidate experience using Recruitment Automation, we also have a great eBook on candidate experience.

A major study has validated the ability of AI-powered, chat-based interviews to assess personality traits and job fit.

The analysis of Sapia’s model, which uses text-based communication to interview candidates, has been published in peer-reviewed journal IEEE Access.

The researchers used data from more than 46,000 job applicants who completed an online chat interview and a questionnaire based on the six-factor HEXACO personality model. The HEXACO traits are honesty-humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience.

Personality models such as the Big Five and HEXACO are based on the ‘lexical hypothesis’. That is personality characteristics are encoded in language, showing the foundational impact of language in defining identifiable personality traits, the researchers say.

After the applicants’ personality traits were assessed they were asked to provide feedback on the accuracy of how they were described. Also, the researchers found 87.8% of the participants agreed with the description given for each of the six traits.

Behavioural questions

Sapia CEO Barbara Hyman tells Shortlist that in the Sapia interview question, they aim to avoid focusing on hypothetical scenarios that create the potential for candidates to give similar answers to others. Additionally, the interviews are oriented towards behavioral, not situational questions.

Candidates can likely work out what trait is being assessed by each question. However, they can’t “game” their responses with pre-rehearsed scenarios, she says.

Examples of the questions used in the interviews include:

  • Which of our values do you really connect with, and why?
  • Explain to us the one thing you really want to learn from someone else that you work with and why?
  • What is a goal that you’ve set for yourself and what did you learn from achieving it (or not)?
  • Sometimes things don’t always go to plan. Describe a time when you failed to meet a deadline or personal commitment. What did you do? How did that make you feel?
  • What motivates you? What are you passionate about?
  • Not everyone agrees all the time. Have you had a peer, teammate or friend disagree with you? What did you do?
  • In sales, thinking fast is critical. What qualifies you for this? Provide an example.
  • Would you rather win, or be happy? Explain your answer.
  • Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond to do something for someone; how did that make you feel?

Sapia: Making recruitment easy!

Candidates respond to the assessment questions with a noticeable sense of intimacy and authenticity, even including emojis in their answers. “The same way they would respond to a friend”, says Hyman.

Finally, she adds that a text-based approach leaves less room for recruiter partiality compared to CVs, psychometric assessments, and video interviews.

Predicting personality using answers to open-ended interview questions, IEEE, June 2020

Source: | Wednesday 15 July 2020 9:21am

Read Online