Whether it’s a revolution or evolution, technology touches our lives in ways that few could even imagine just a few years ago. There are few, if any, industries that have not been transformed by the digital age.
With the rise of new technologies and automation, there were some that feared the robot apocalypse was upon us. Who needs actual people when machines, algorithms, software and programs can do the job faster, smarter and more cost-effectively?
In the recruitment and HR industries, as job boards, social networking and websites like LinkedIn began their relentless rise, many believed that the human touch was about to stripped from an industry that only exists for human capital.
Of course, the very opposite is true. While there’s no denying some roles and industries have changed forever, advancing technology means new industries are emerging, new roles are being created and new skills are being sought by candidates and employers alike.
In the hiring industry, recruitment software is here to stay. This article explains how it can be working hard for you and providing a seamless and rewarding experience for your team, your clients and for every candidate.
The technology landscape in recruitment and HR
In this article we’re specifically looking at recruitment software and exploring its role and impact in the hiring process. Before we do, it’s important to understand its context and connection to the technology that can support the complete employee lifecycle. This extends from talent acquisition right through to the ongoing management and development of people through HR teams. The recruitment strategy and candidate management technology pipeline covers:
So what is recruitment software?
Recruiting software is not one thing. It’s an umbrella term for different tools that address different stages of the recruitment process. From creating job requisitions and conducting candidate screening to scheduling interviews and even sending out job offers, recruitment software can automate every step of the hiring process.
Generally, most types of recruitment software can be categorised into four categories and will address some or all of these key functions of the recruitment process:
Just as there are many types of recruitment agencies, there are many types of recruiting software and every solution will look different. Some recruitment agencies may also manage work placements so their recruiting software technology stack may include a Vendor management System as described above.
An agency placing technology professionals into permanent positions will have very different sourcing, database and engagement needs than an agency working to high volume briefs for customer-facing service roles. An agency retained for search and recruitment at the highest executive levels will have different needs again.
Why do you need recruitment software?
It’s rare to find anyone in the recruitment business that hasn’t begun to automate at least some of the hiring process. Job seekers – and not just those tech-savvy millennials – have been quick to embrace and engage with mobile apps, social media, job boards and more to find their next job. However, there are still many organisations relying on outdated and labour-intensive recruitment methods.
Recruiting software has been developed and continues to evolve to address the universal challenges and experiences of recruiters the world over:
What does recruitment software do?
The hiring process has many steps. From promoting job opportunities to screening CVs, tracking candidates to making job offers, there are many pressure points. The process can be costly and time-consuming and if things go sideways, you’re not just burning hours and dollars, you could be burning candidates too by making poor hiring decisions.
Automated recruiting software can do all the heavy lifting for you. It organises all the tools and all the data in one place to provide end-to-end functionality through the complete recruitment process. Simplifying and enhancing that process ensures a better experience for everyone – recruiters, hirers, HR departments… and job candidates alike.
By streamlining process, recruiting software can help you significantly reduce hiring costs and fill roles faster.
What are the benefits of recruitment software?
Here’s how your organisation can benefit from recruitment software:
A CRM platform may stand alone or integrate with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that can streamline the entire recruitment process. At its simplest, an ATS is a data-driven system that eliminates the paper chase of traditional recruiting. There are fewer opportunities for data-entry errors and as data is digitised and can even be stored in the cloud, say goodbye to physical files and unwieldy paper charts.
Every ATS is different, but most will include integration with online job boards, careers pages and resumé databases, automated hiring workflows, communication capabilities and reporting tools.
Ai tools can use text, voice and even video to automate part or all of the evaluation and interviewing process. Making the recruitment process up to 90% faster, it’s especially useful for high volume recruitment briefs such as frontline retail or customer service roles.
PredictiveHire’s Ai recruiting tool is a text-based, mobile-first interview offering blind-screening at its best, with no gender, age or ethnicity revealed. Candidates rate the experience highly and appreciate personal feedback and coaching tips.
Good reporting and centralised information can also enhance communications and collaboration between all stakeholders in the hiring process – candidates, recruiters, hiring teams and employers.
Ready to continue your exploration of recruitment software and the benefits it can bring to your business? Find out more about PredictiveHire’s Ai-powered recruitment tool and how we can support your recruitment needs today.
You can try out PredictiveHire’s FirstInterview right now, or leave us your details to get a personalised demo
An AI hiring firm says it can predict job-hopping based on your interviews. The idea of “bias-free” hiring, already highly misleading, is being used by companies to shirk greater scrutiny for their tools’ labor issues beyond discrimination.
The most common systems involve using face-scanning algorithms, games or other evaluations to help determine which candidates to interview.
Activists and scholars warn that these screening tools can perpetuate discrimination. However, the makers themselves argue that algorithmic hiring helps correct for human biases.
In a December 2019 paper, researchers at Cornell reviewed the landscape of algorithmic screening companies to analyze their claims and practices. Of the 18 they identified with English-language websites, the majority marketed as a fairer alternative to human-based hiring. Thus suggesting that they were latching onto the heightened concern around these issues to tout their tools’ benefits and get more customers.
But discrimination isn’t the only concern with algorithmic hiring. Some scholars worry that marketing language that focuses on bias lets companies off the hook on other issues, such as workers’ rights. A new preprint from one of these firms serves as an important reminder. “We should not let the attention that people have begun to pay to bias/discrimination crowd other issues,” says Solon Barocas, an assistant professor at Cornell University and principal researcher at Microsoft Research, who studies algorithmic fairness and accountability.
The firm in question is Australia-based Sapia (Formerly PredictiveHire), founded in October 2013.
According to the firm’s CEO, Barbara Hyman, its clients are employers that must manage large numbers of applications, such as those in retail, sales, call centers, and health care.
As the Cornell study found, it also actively uses promises of fairer hiring in its marketing language. On its home page, it boldly advertises: “Meet Smart Interviewer – Your co-pilot in hiring. Making interviews super fast, inclusive and bias free.
As we’ve written before, the idea of “bias-free” algorithms is highly misleading. But Sapia’s latest research is troubling for a different reason. It is focused on building a new machine-learning model that seeks to predict a candidate’s likelihood of job-hopping. That is the practice of changing jobs more frequently than an employer desires. The work follows the company’s recent peer-reviewed research that looked at how open-ended interview questions correlate with personality.
Applicants had originally been asked five to seven open-ended questions and self-rating questions about their past experience and situational judgment.
These included questions meant to tease out traits that studies have previously shown to correlate strongly with job-hopping tendencies, such as being more open to experience, less practical, and less down to earth. The company researchers claim the model was able to predict job hopping with statistical significance. Sapia’s website is already advertising this work as a “flight risk” assessment that is “coming soon.” Sapia’s new work is a prime example of what Nathan Newman argues is one of the biggest adverse impacts of big data on labor.
Machine-learning-based personality tests, for example, are increasingly being used in hiring to screen. This is to out potential employees who have a higher likelihood of agitating for increased wages or supporting unionisation. Employers are increasingly monitoring employees’ emails, chats, and data to assess which might leave and calculate the minimum pay increase to make them stay.
None of these examples should be surprising, Newman argued. They are simply a modern manifestation of what employers have historically done to suppress wages by targeting and breaking up union activities. The use of personality assessments in hiring, which dates back to the 1930s in the US, in fact began as a mechanism to weed out people most likely to become labor organizers. The tests became particularly popular in the 1960s and ’70s once organizational psychologists had refined them to assess workers for their union sympathies.
In this context, Sapia’s fight-risk assessment is just another example of this trend. “Job hopping, or the threat of job hopping,” points out Barocas, “is one of the main ways that workers are able to increase their income.” The company even built its assessment on personality screenings designed by organizational psychologists.
Barocas doesn’t necessarily advocate tossing out the tools altogether. He believes the goal of making hiring work better for everyone is a noble one and could be achieved if regulators mandate greater transparency.
By Karen Haoa, July 24, 2020, MIT Technology Review | https://www.technologyreview.com/
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It scares me sometimes when I think about the big decisions I’ve made on gut feel and will probably continue to make relying on my instincts.
Personally, I would love to be armed with meaningful data and insights whenever I make important life decisions. Such as what’s the maximum price I should pay for that house on the weekend, who to partner with, who to work for, and who to hire into my team. Data that helped me see a bigger picture or another perspective would be very valuable. For most of those decisions there is so much information asymmetry which makes it feel even riskier. For sure I could check out glassdoor when choosing my next job but it comes with huge sample bias and not much science behind it.
So why is there still an (almost) universal blind acceptance that these decisions are best entrusted to gut feel? Especially given the facts show we are pretty crap at making good ‘gut’ based decisions.
I’m one of those people that believe in the power of AI — to remove that asymmetry, to dial down the bias, to empower me with data to make smarter!
At a recent HR conference, a quick pulse around the room confirmed there is high curiosity and appetite to understand AI. What we’re missing is the clarity about the opportunities and what success looks like from using it. The concern about how to navigate the change management exercise that comes with introducing data and technology into a previously entirely human-driven process is daunting.
The best human resources AI is not about taking the human out of hiring and culture decisions. Far from it. It’s about providing meaningful data to help us make better decisions faster.
Having worked in the ‘People and Culture’ space for a while, I know building trust in how the organisation makes decisions — especially people decisions — is hard in the absence of data. Yet we all know that transparency builds trust. So how can you build that trust through transparency when the decision-maker is a human — and the humans make decisions in closed rooms and private discussions.
Remember that feeling when the recruiters call up and say you weren’t a good fit — who feels great about that call? A total black box cop-out response!
It doesn’t have to be this way, and the faster we can get to better decision making the better. Seven months ago, I joined a team of data scientists who had spent the prior three years building technology that relies on AI to work its magic and equip recruiters with meaningful and actionable insights when hiring.
I’m no data scientist. I have had to learn the ins and outs of our AI pretty fast. And because our technology is at work in the people space, I’m learning how to ensure the AI is safe, fair and our customers trust it and us to do the right thing with it.
If we reduce it to its core process, a machine learning algorithm is trying to improve the performance of an outcome based on the input data it receives. In some instances, such as in deep learning algorithms, it’s trying to simulate the functioning of the human brain’s neural networks, to figure out the patterns between the data inputs and data outputs.
Because it has no feelings, it’s going to be free of the biases humans bring to these critical decisions. Plus machines are more malleable to learning and way faster at it. This is more critical these days when roles are changing dynamically and swiftly as industries are disrupted.
Our team plays in predictive analytics for recruitment space. What this means is our AI seeks out the lead indicators of job success: the correlating factors between values, personality and job performance. We all intuitively know that behaviours drive leading indicators. But we struggle to assess for those consistently well.
Our job is to augment your intelligence and ability to make the right decision. By knowing how people treat others, what drives them, and their values, you become better informed about the real DNA of a person and how they might function in your team.
A powerful motivator to use AI is to build confidence and trust in the process from both candidates and people leaders by dialling down the human element (getting rid of the bias) and revealing the patterns for success. Less room for bias = more fairness for candidates = more diverse hiring. Key to this is we don’t look at any personal information — the machine doesn’t know or care about your age, gender, colour or educational background.
For our customers having this data is empowering and helps them make smart decisions. For all the people who are affected by those decisions, they can feel relieved that they were considered on their merits, not based on someone’s gut feel.
But if I have to choose between trusting biased humans and (a sometimes) biased machine they create, I know which one I would trust more. At least with a machine, you can actually test for the bias, remove it, and re-train it.
With so many candidates in the market, it’s more important than ever to create an engaging and human candidate experience. But you need to balance that with finding the best talent for your role.
Skill testing can give recruiters a competitive advantage in today’s job market. Candidates who are hired on merit, rather than background, tend to stay longer and perform better over the long term. Here’s how to use skills assessments to fill your open positions, no matter how many applicants you are dealing with.
A skills test is an assessment used to provide an unbiased, validated evaluation of a candidate’s ability to perform the duties listed in the job description.
Typically, a skills test asks a variety of questions in different formats to see how candidates perform on-the-job tasks. A good skills test includes questions that are capable of being answered by someone already doing the job and can accurately measure key performance metrics. Questions should also be specifically tailored to relate to the responsibilities of an open position. Many skills tests include immersive experiences, like coding challenges or job simulations, to mimic how a candidate performs when faced with a real-life scenario.
Other types of job-readiness evaluations deploy validated psychometric assessments to identify those in-demand soft skills: things like motivation, conscientiousness, resilience, and emotional intelligence. A personality assessment varies from a skills test in that it predicts how a person will behave in a specific scenario, rather than their ability to complete a task.
While skills test cover task-related abilities, like coding, copywriting, or sales, some pre-employment assessments integrate the less tangible capabilities – things like teamwork and leadership. These qualities are sought after by executives at more than 900 companies, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of executives.
Yet, 89% of those surveyed said they have a “very or somewhat difficult time finding people with the requisite attributes.” Where traditional hiring methods fall short, a skills test can easily clarify a candidate’s true talent.
“Many service companies, including retailers, call centers, and security firms, can reduce costs and make better hires by using short, web-based tests as the first screening step. Such tests efficiently weed out the least-suitable applicants, leaving a smaller, better-qualified pool to undergo the more costly personalized aspects of the process.”
Overall, skills tests can play a critical role in predicting on-the-job success. More so than resumes or job interviews, a skills test can assess the true potential of a new hire to go the distance with the company. Here’s how skill testing works, and why more companies than ever are starting to integrate skill testing into the recruitment and hiring process.
Skill testing works best when the questions being asked are specifically crafted to the role and needs of the team hiring the new candidate. In designing a skills test, combine different types of questions to get a 360-degree view of how a candidate will perform in different scenarios.
There are a variety of ways to set up a skills test – and we’ll get into the mechanics of how to actually run the assessment in the next section. But, designing a thoughtful aptitude test takes some initial foresight on behalf of the hiring manager and team.
Ultimately, the best use for a skills assessment is to help recruiters move away from the resume and allow candidates to prove they are the real deal. Crafting the right series of questions should be a collaborative process between the recruiting team and the team hiring the new employee. Here’s how these teams can set up and run a skills test.
In designing a skills test or pre-employment assessment, there are a few specific steps to take in order to thoughtfully structure your questions.
Based on our work with over 8,000 customers, we recommend following these best practices in setting up and running your skills test. These tips can help with candidate engagement and lead to high rates of completion.
We also suggest that video responses not be timed; there are too many technical issues that can result from a candidate trying to film a one-way video interview. If you do wish to set a time limit, make sure it’s at a minimum of five minutes.
Running a skills test through Vervoe, or any other platform, is relatively straightforward. Vervoe’s skills assessments let you select questions from a library of assessment tools, or design your own questions based on the specific needs of your company. The Expert Assessment Library offers questions and trials created by experts in their fields, meaning they have at least 3+ years of experience in their specific area of expertise. You can preview questions from any of the assessments and add them seamlessly through the Vervoe platform.
Now that you know how to set up an assessment, when should you deploy this tool during the hiring process?
Timing is everything when it comes to adding a skill assessment to your hiring process.
Research by Harvard Business Review revealed that skills tests should come early in the hiring process. According to their study, “Many service companies, including retailers, call centers, and security firms, can reduce costs and make better hires by using short, web-based tests as the first screening step. Such tests efficiently weed out the least-suitable applicants, leaving a smaller, better-qualified pool to undergo the more costly personalized aspects of the process.”
Skill tests should be used to screen candidates in, not out. The issue many recruiters face is that the volume of candidates makes it impossible to carefully consider each person’s ability. Smart algorithms and AI tools can turbo-charge candidate assessments by scoring results quickly and removing human bias from the equation.
Vervoe’s algorithm scores candidates using a multi-layered approach. Candidates are ranked based on how well they performed, rather than filtered out if they didn’t achieve a certain benchmark. The top candidates easily rise to the top; but no one misses out on being considered for the next round. When used early in the hiring process, skill tests can select a more diverse pool of applicants to continue onto the next phase.
There are many ways to set up a skills test, depending on the position for which you are hiring. Pre-employment skills tests can cover a range of positions: administrative assistant, finance and accounting, and call center reps are just a few roles that companies hire for using skills assessments.
Excel skill tests, coding skill tests, typing skill tests, and other computer skill tests are the most common forms of pre-employment assessments. Some companies focus on questions that are task-related, e.g. “Create a Powerpoint Slide that has a video embedded in the presentation.” Questions can get hyper-specific to test a niche skill, like a coding language, or be posed more broadly to test the general requirements for success at a certain level.
Some companies choose to focus on verifying the skills that will help a candidate succeed beyond the immediate position. This approach skews closer to a pre-employment assessment, with questions designed to reveal if a candidate can climb the corporate ladder, adapt in a challenging work environment, or respond under pressure.
For example, one call center rep test included questions such as, “You have an elderly customer on the phone who is having trouble understanding your instructions. A colleague is also trying to transfer a call from a customer you served before, and you have a scheduled follow-up call happening in 5 minutes. How would you handle and prioritize in this situation?”
Multiple choice, open-ended questions, and pre-recorded video responses are all great ways to see if a candidate has what it takes to do the job well. But, do candidates enjoy answering these types of questions?
By most accounts, candidates appreciate the opportunity to showcase what makes them great at their job. Orica, the world’s largest provider of commercial explosives, integrated skill-testing into their interview process to the delight of their job candidates. In revamping the interview process for graduate students looking to join the Orica team, recruiters consolidated their online evaluation components into one platform, Vervoe. The skill assessment combined questions focusing on skills, logic, and values.
An average of 86% of candidates completed the online process, and the reviews were mostly positive. Here’s what the candidates had to say about the skills test:
“The tests required total engagement and thought, and were a clear demonstration of what makes Orica different from any other company.”
“I think the questions were very diverse and it allowed me to showcase myself, my skills and abilities in different ways.”
“It gave me an opportunity to showcase who I am as well as challenge my skills”
This is just one example of how a skill test can change the entire interview process for a potential new hire. In a job market where people spend an average of 11 hours a week looking for a new job, it’s easy to get burned out, fast. Every job description starts to look the same; every interview begins to feel stale.
When given the opportunity to showcase their talent through real-world tasks, job candidates will jump at the chance to be engaged with the job description, rise above their resume, and challenge themselves. Companies that use Vervoe’s assessments experience a 97% candidate completion rate, which is among the highest engagement rates in the industry. Candidates love the opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Even if they aren’t hired, skills testing offers a break from the repetition of the stale interview experience.
The benefits of a skills test aren’t limited to the candidate experience.
Recruiters looking to hire diverse, high-performing teams with better efficiency and consistency can use pre-employment tests to their advantage. Skills tests are a better predictor of performance than resume screenings or traditional interviews alone. Resume screenings are bad for three reasons. First, studies suggest that it’s common for candidates to lie on their CV. The person you think you’re hiring may not actually possess the qualifications you think they do.
“We just wouldn’t be able to interview 2000 people in two weeks. But what we could do is utilize Vervoe to more accurately and in quite an unbiased way, assess everybody’s application during that period.
Rather than just assess the first 200 [applicants] and maybe hire 150 of them, Vervoe allowed us to actually assess all 3000 applicants in a two week period and still be able to select the best 150.”
Second, resumes only provide a high-level view of a candidate’s credentials and work experience. These items don’t offer qualitative insight into actual on-the-job performance. Coupled with recruiting biases that are built into the process, the third threat is that recruiters are privileging candidates based on background and demographics, rather than talent. Perhaps this is why new hires crash out as often as they do. According to one study, 46% of new hires “fail” within the first 18 months of being hired.
Skill tests can help take some of the bias out of the interview process, give recruiters a new evaluation metric to consider, and lead to happier, long-term hires. There’s ample evidence to suggest they really do work better than many of the other traditional hiring methods recruiters have relied on in the past.
In our experience, skill testing works better than traditional hiring methods – with some caveats.
Without a doubt, aptitude tests can be used to replace resume screening. This style of sorting through candidates increases the chance that the best candidates will be unfairly eliminated. Good people get screened out, rather than screened in. So-called “pedigree proxies” – resumes and cover letters – are not indicative of job performance, yet they are often the quickest way a recruiter or algorithm can think of to cut down on their stack of candidate resumes.
Skills tests improve time to hire while allowing the hiring manager to see how someone will do the job, before they get the offer. This reduces turnover costs, which add up quickly: the cost of making the wrong hire can be up to 2.5x salary, easily over $100,000. Working with Vervoe’s skills assessments, on the other hand, can help a recruiter identify the best people at under $100 per hire.
The best skills tests, however, need the right formula to help the candidates succeed. Some recruiters focus narrowly on the skills that will help a new hire succeed in the immediate position for which they are hiring. Yet, many CEOs emphasize the importance of soft skills – things like leadership and teamwork.
New hires may end up being disappointed and leaving because they lacked the soft skills needed to adapt to their new team, not necessarily the skills to perform the job. Recruiters must integrate questions into their skill assessment that focus on critical soft skills that predict long-term success. These validated psychometric assessments are key to assessing “culture fit” without defaulting to recruiter bias.
With any kind of assessment, there’s a common concern that’s quite commonly raised: is this assessment valid?
There are many types of validity, and it’s rare that a test will satisfy every type. Looking specifically at tests for finding job fit, there are a few different types of validity that are particularly relevant, not just to ensure that the hire is a good one, but to ensure compliance with EEOC regulations.
In all cases where assessments are used, and in every step of the recruitment process, it’s essential that employers track and remain aware of differences in performance that are biased toward particular demographic factors. At Vervoe, we constantly monitor assessments to make sure candidates take tests that are fair, and based solely on skills that reflect how they would perform on the job.
In conclusion, we’ll leave you with few thoughts on skill tests compared to interviews.
First, interviews, in general, need a total overhaul. Recruiters have been asking the same, outdated interview questions for decades. Many candidates get overwhelmed by the performance anxiety inherent in the interview and may make (forgivable) mistakes. Nevertheless, many recruiters like the security of meeting someone before making an offer.
Many recruiters seek the same insight from a group interview or case study that they would get from an individual skill test. Unfortunately, using these methods can’t give you the same valuable information as a straightforward aptitude assessment. Case studies can be too conceptual; rather than seeing how a candidate will approach the work listed in the job description, case studies ask abstract questions. The goal of asking “how many tennis balls can fit on a Boeing 757” is not to see if the candidate can guess the right answer, but to see how they approach the question and reason through their response.
But this knowledge doesn’t always serve a recruiter with the best predictor of on-the-job success.
Group interviews provide more insight – into a candidate’s teamwork, leadership, and communication, for example. Yet, in a group scenario, extroverts tend to dominate. It can be difficult to see how each candidate performs as an individual while trying to consider the group at once.
In summary, skill testing is all about understanding whether a candidate can do something or knows something. It’s about verifying their ability to go the distance with your company. Pre-employment assessments differ slightly in that they focus on predicting how a candidate will behave in certain scenarios, not what they can do. By combining questions from skills testing and pre-employment assessments, recruiters can get a more accurate picture of the candidate’s ability.
For more reading, check out some of these great resources.