Written by Nathan Hewitt

The ROI of Hope | Candidate Experience

Getting your organisation’s candidate experience right is proving to be something we’ll hear about increasingly. This is as job applicants demand more from companies they interact with. A recent poll on LinkedIn by a recruitment specialist attracted almost 80,000 views and 1000’s of reactions. It revealed that 52% of the people polled (one assumes mostly recruiters) believe that a template email is good enough as a response to an application for a job.

When it comes to recruitment, responding to candidates has always been an area we know has been ripe for improvement. And it costs companies too, with a bad candidate experience said to have cost Virgin $5 million.

That’s not to say there aren’t historical reasons why recruiters have not been able to respond to the hundreds of applicants received for a job. Until now it’s not been something we can practically do with limited time and resources. This is where AI plays a fundamental role in moving our industry forward as it allows mass personalisation at scale.

Hiring With Heart

This has never been more important than right now as we have had mass job losses across industries due to the impact of COVID-19. If you look at the Hospitality and Tourism industry across the globe, it’s hard to wrap your head around the sheer number of job losses with very little hope of returning to normal soon. If with every job application we were able to give each unsuccessful candidate feedback on where they could improve, imagine the impact we could have in activating the world economy.

This is entirely possible and every day we hear about the impact our technology is having on people’s lives when they get personalised feedback designed to steer them in the right direction.

81% of people who get personalised feedback from our platform said it was useful in identifying their strengths, 71% said it would help them better prepare for interviews and 59% said it would help them find a job that suited them.

And lastly, it’s not something we can quantify, but we do believe it’s important. What we’re giving so many people right now is hope. We think that’s something worth companies cultivating alongside us too.

To keep up to date on all things “Hiring with Ai” subscribe to our blog!

Finally, you can try out Sapia’s Chat Interview right now, or leave us your details to get a personalised demo

Have you seen the 2020 Candidate Experience Playbook? Download it here.


A CV tells you nothing

CVs are still the most frequent data source used

This seems obvious but yet even today this is the key data source used in screening and hiring. For grad recruitment, your degree, your university and your uni results are key filters used in screening.

It’s already been four years since Ernst & Young removed university degree classification as an entry criterion as there is ‘no evidence’ it equals success. Students are savvy and they know how competitive it is to secure a top graduate job. In the UK, the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (Hedd) surveys students and graduates about degree fraud. The annual results are pretty consistent – about a third of people embellish or exaggerate their academic qualifications when applying for jobs. Read more here >

We analysed ~13,000 CVs, received over a 5 year period, all for similar roles for a large sales-led organisation. From this data set, 2660 were hired and around 9600 rejected. We wanted to test how meaningful the CV is as a data source for hiring decisions.

Can you pick which group was hired?

Look at these two word-clouds. One represents the words extracted from the CVs of those who were and the other from those who were rejected. Which would you pick?

A word cloud depicts the relative frequency of words appearing in the set of resumes by the size of the words in the word cloud, i.e. words in larger font size appears more than the ones in smaller font size. Given that the two word clouds show no significant differences in the words in larger or smaller font sizes means that the two groups are indistinguishable based on the words used within CV’s.

The Bottom Line? The CV is not a reliable data source to guide hiring decisions.

P.S If you had picked Group 2 you would have been right.

Not only does the CV not matter, but it also turns out our prior experience doesn’t count for much either.

Josh Bersin, the premier topic expert in our space, articulates how hard it is to predict performance through traditional testing in this way .

“Managers and HR professionals use billions of dollars of assessment, tests, simulations, and games to hire people – yet many tell me they still get 30-40% of their candidates wrong.”

And now the definitive publication for all things HR, leadership etc. the Harvard Business Review, has shared research that prior experience is also a poor predictor of performance. Read more >

So what signals DO tell you something about whether a person is a good fit for your role, or for your organisation?

Whether their background is similar to yours or the person in your team who is a star? Whether they have played a competitive sport at a senior level (because that’s a good indicator of drive and resilience)? Or maybe whether they are a different ethnicity, gender, educational background to the rest of your team because, you know … diversity is meant to be good for business!

The list of performance ‘signals’ are as many as the number of people (interviewers) you have interviewing new hires. It’s a deeply personal decision like who you choose as a partner and we all feel like we know what to look for. But we don’t.

And no amount of interview or bias training or even interview experience is ever going to make us better at these decisions.

But experience does matter, but it’s a different type of experience. It’s the experience that comes from doing something 10 x, 10,000 times, a million times, with feedback on what worked, what didn’t, under what context etc. And of course, if one could remember all that.

Think of a different context- the grading of an exam. If you ask your teenager or university-aged son/daughter what would make them trust an exam result, they would likely say
1. Consistency
2. Anonymity
3. Data-driven, i.e some kind of formula for assessment, that assures consistency and fairness.
4. The experience of the assessor.

The fact is … just as no human driver will ever match the learning capability and velocity of a self-driving Tesla car, no assessor will ever be as good as a machine that’s done it a million times. The same applies for AI in recruitment.

No human recruiter will ever match the power, smarts and anonymity presented by a machine learning assessment algorithm.

We would love to see you join the conversation on LinkedIn!

Suggested Reading:

Read Online

How to assess, choose and use the best talent assessment tools

In recent years, a flood of pre-employment talent assessment tools has come into the market.

From automating initial candidate interviews to conducting online skills or personality testing, these tools help recruiters look beyond the CV to find the best candidates for every job.

In today’s competitive world of work, recruiters and hiring managers want to be sure that every decision is the right decision. As competition between companies for the very best talent has increased and as more candidates apply for fewer roles, just filling a role is no longer an option.  Reviewing CVs and assessing candidates is time-consuming and costly, and recruiters need to be confident that they are delivering value to their clients in both costs and the quality of candidates.

That’s why recruiters and employers alike are seeking ways to take the guesswork out of the process in identifying talent who will be the best fit for the team, work most productively and stay in the role longer. 

In this guide, Sapia explores the types of tools available, the insights they can provide and how they can benefit your business. We’ll also provide some guidelines for helping you to assess which tools could deliver the best return on your investment.

Why use talent assessment tools?

Pre-employment assessment of candidates is, of course, the very reason that recruiters exist.

Talent assessment tools have been developed to help make that process easier, faster and more cost-effective. The tools leverage technology to more accurately identify the best talent for a role and predict their fit and performance in that organisation.   

The benefits of candidate evaluation software can include:

  • Go beyond the CV – Leverage technology to focus on skills as well as things such as cultural fit, aptitude, cognitive abilities and more to identify candidates “most likely” to be successful.
  • Increase productivity – Spend less time on manual screening and more time on higher-value briefs and candidates.
  • Decrease costs – Automated processes can reduce the costs of manual talent review and assessment, dramatically reducing overall hiring costs. Redirect savings to investments in people or technology.
  • Remove bias from the process – Data-driven tools can take unconscious bias out of the assessment equation to focus on skills and fit. Sapia’s Ai-enabled text interview automation platform, for example, offers blind screening at its best to help build workplace diversity. 
  • Build deeper talent pools – Use technology to extend your reach to more candidates. The best tools integrate with your applicant tracking system to seamlessly run hiring processes and build ‘ready to go’ talent capabilities.
  • Fill roles faster – With the ability to screen more candidates in less time you can confidently begin interviewing sooner.
  • Be successful – With the right talent assessment tools working for your business, you are more likely to achieve the best talent outcomes every time.
  • Improve the candidate experience – Provide an engaging and enjoyable experience for candidates.  Some tools including Sapia’s platform automate personalised feedback that is always appreciated by candidates.
  • Know what candidates want – Using data to understand candidates, their motivations and their expectations can help managers be better prepared for onboarding. Building profiles of successful candidates will also provide insight for the next similar brief.
  • Make hiring decisions with confidence – Objective evidence and data-driven findings can help make every decision a better decision.

Types of talent assessment tools

The wide range of available talent assessment tools can be generally grouped into three areas of assessment: Work behaviours; Knowledge, skills and experience; Innate abilities and attributes. 

Some tools may focus on a single attribute such as coding abilities or English competency while others can combine a range of tests and interview capabilities within one platform.

Once the requirements of a role are understood, the right tools can be chosen to assess those competencies.

1. Learnt knowledge, skills and experience assessments look at candidates’ specific job knowledge, qualifications and work experience. Assessed against the agreed capabilities required for the role, these assessments can be an extremely accurate and effective predictor of a candidate’s performance in the role. Some tools may focus on specific sectors and roles  – eg sales, HR, health, hospitality, programming, engineering – while other platforms will cover a range of these with tests that can be customised to specific requirements

Some examples:

  • Job knowledge assessments: This type of test measures specific areas of knowledge or skills – often technical – that are considered minimum requirements for a role. 
  • Skills assessments: Through mobile-driven text conversations, video interviews, multiple-choice quizzes or even online ‘games’, job-specific and general work skills or soft skills can be assessed.
  • Coding assessments: There are many tools designed specifically to test and assess candidates’ coding abilities and technical skills. These assessments can be used at the screening stage to filter candidates or during later interview stages where full-scale coding challenges could reflect actual work or challenges the candidate would encounter as an employee. Tools can be a platform and industry-specific.
  • General skills: Tools can also address general work skills such as literacy and numeracy, basic typing and data entry, ability to follow instructions, and more.
  • Work behaviour assessments:  observe actual behaviours and simulations that match and help predict real on-the-job requirements. Job simulation exercises and work sample tests give candidates an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and skills. They allow employers to assess job-specific skills and analyse candidates’ capabilities in decision-making and prioritising, multi-tasking or their ability to work under pressure. Tasks can be highly customised to specific responsibilities of the role and of the organisation.

2. Innate abilities and attributes assessments focus on traits that are not job-specific such as personality, interests and cognitive abilities including problem-solving, logic skills, reading comprehension and learning ability. These universal human traits have proven to be effective indicators of job performance and cultural fit. Softskill testing: Tools can be used for talent evaluation across a range of qualities and personality traits such as teamwork, sales ability,  good judgement, integrity, curiosity, impact, ownership and independence.

Some examples: 

  • Automated Interviews: AI-driven platforms can automate interview processes and provide a better experience for recruiters, hirers and candidates alike. Platforms like Sapia’s automated text interview can provide a true advantage, especially at the screening stage for large volume recruitment briefs such as customer-facing retail or service teams. 
  • Candidate ranking:  Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, many assessment tools will analyse results to grade and rank candidates.  Rankings around different criteria can save time and provide the confidence that you are focused on the right candidates.
  • Cognitive screening: These tools provide insight into how candidates think, solve problems and learn. Insights can help hirers understand future management needs to prepare and support new employees to be successful in their role.
  • Integrity assessments: Assessing attitudes and experiences relating to honesty, reliability and trust.
  • Psychographic screening: Insights into a candidate’s personality, values and interests can help assess their fit within a team and within an organisation’s culture and values.
  • Bias-free screening: Unconscious bias removed from the process so candidates are assessed on their skills and decisions are not influenced by a candidate’s gender, age, ethnicity and other personal credentials that do not affect their ability to do the job. Sapia’s mobile-first, text interview platform is an industry leader in blind interviewing.

10 questions to help you choose the best talent assessment tools 

Saving time and money, filling roles with better quality candidates. That’s the key reason talent assessment tools are indispensable across the recruitment industry and in every employment sector. But with the plethora of tools available, how do you decide which ones are right for your organisation? Which talent assessment tools will best contribute to your success?

Before you invest, Sapia’s talent assessment tool checklist can help:

1)  What do you need to know?

As an experienced recruiter, you can probably already recognise where your talent assessments sometimes fall short or you think they could be better. The data insight that can support your recruitment and hiring processes will be different for everyone and will vary according to:

  • industry or sector specialisation
  • experience level of candidates – entry-level to management and C-suite roles
  • qualifications, skills or personality traits required for roles
  • nature of brief–  specialist technical roles or large volume team roles

When you know what you need to measure, you can start narrowing your search to identify the tools that can give you what you’re looking for.

2) How will the findings be presented?

Consider the format and depth of the feedback that different tools can provide. Is a numerical ranking of candidates sufficient or will in-depth analysis, comparisons and recommendations better serve your needs?

3) Do assessments support the hiring organisation’s brand values and strategy?

Consider whether the tools positively support an organisation’s employment policies and practices such as workplace diversity and inclusion, language or numeric competencies and minimum skills requirements.

4) Do tools remove bias from talent assessment?

Removing unconscious bias from the talent assessment process is a priority for organisations looking to improve workplace diversity and inclusion. While a text-based chat platform (such as Sapia) can effectively take bias out of the equation, video submissions bring the opportunity for bias front and centre of the process.

5) Do the tools support the interview process?

Few, if any, hiring decisions should ever be made solely on the basis of talent assessment tools rankings or findings. Make sure tools can provide meaningful data that will enhance the interview process. Many tools will help identify areas that should be explored further in the interview process and even suggest questions to help shape the interview.

6) How will the tool integrate with existing systems?

The best tools will integrate with your existing systems and processes and with other tools. You want to be sure that you can combine data from different tools to create meaningful reports and records. Tools that integrate with your existing ATS (Applicant Tracking System) are likely to deliver the best savings in time and effort.

7) What will candidates think?

Every candidate deserves a fair and positive experience, whether they are successful or not. Choose tools that are easy and engaging to use, appropriate for the role and tools that will enhance, not undermine, your employer brand.

The best tools also deliver value by allowing candidates to provide feedback on their engagement with tools after the assessment process.

8) How do I find out what tools are best?

Ask your industry colleagues for recommendations and search the web for reviews and guides like this one that can help you navigate a very crowded market. When you think you’ve found the tools that will work best for you, your clients and your candidates, ask vendors to show you how their assessment tools can deliver with a personal demonstration or even a free trial.

9) Have you analysed the costs?

You want to be sure that your investment will pay its way. Take the time to consider the value of the candidate feedback or assessment of different tools will provide. Many vendors provide online calculators to help you estimate the return on your investment.

10) Do the tools support best practice?

Talent assessment tools can provide objective, measurable insights that other more traditional recruitment methods can’t provide. But technology has its limits too. Make sure that a positive candidate experience remains a priority – nobody wants to feel discriminated against or feel embarrassed or violated by intrusive personality testing. 

Make sure also that in focusing on one key skill or trait, you’re not missing a candidate’s true strengths. In short, don’t use your talent assessment tools as the recruitment tool, use them in conjunction with all the other methods, tools and skills in your recruitment toolbox.

The Buyers Guide to Navigating Ai Hiring Solutions

Leveraging objective data to augment decisions like who to hire and who to promote is critical if you are looking to minimise unconscious preferences and biases, which can surface even when those responsible have the best of intentions.

The greatest algorithm on earth is the one inside of our skull, but it is heavily biased. Human decision making is the ultimate black box.

Only with data, the right data alongside human judgment can we get any change happening. And clearly, what your employees and candidates are now looking for, is change. We hope that the debate over the value of diverse teams is now over. There is plenty of evidence that diverse teams lead to better decisions and therefore, business outcomes for any organisation.

This means that CHROs today are being charged with interrupting the bias in their people decisions and expected to manage bias as closely as the CFO manages the financials. But the use of Ai tools in hiring and promotion requires careful consideration to ensure the technology does not inadvertently introduce bias or amplify any existing biases. To assist HR decision-makers to navigate these decisions confidently, we invite you to consider these 8 critical questions when selecting your Ai technology. You will find not only the key questions to ask when testing the tools but why these are critical questions to ask and how to differentiate between the answers you are given.

This guide is presented by Sapia whose AI-powered, text chat talent assessment tool has a user satisfaction rate of 99%.  

Read Online

“Please don’t go” – How to diagnose, cure and prevent Turnover Contagion

“Will the last team member to leave please turn out the lights”

New year, new job.

January is the most popular month for employees to look for new opportunities. But that doesn’t have to mean starting the year with an epidemic of departures.

People leave their jobs for all sorts of reasons.

  • Personal – for instance when a family member needs to relocate.
  • Professional – to get more pay, a promotion, or make a career change.
  • And of course,
  • Organisational – when they are no longer required or suitable for their job.

Any thriving business will want to see a healthy level of turnover in its staff. But what if your people are leaving simply because their colleagues are leaving?

We call this the Turnover Contagion Effect (TCE) and it’s something that every business should care about.

Diagnosing Turnover Contagion

You may have experienced Turnover Contagion yourself. It’s that growing sense that “everyone” in your team is job hunting, and it’s been around for as long as people have worked together.

Your colleagues may not have told you directly that they’re searching. But when there’s a sudden spate of funerals, urgent repair visits or caring for holidaying parents’ goats (all true stories) you may get a sense that something’s up.

Then there are the colleagues who are cagey about letting you see their screens. And of course the ones who quite blatantly tell the rest of the team that it’s only a matter of time before they leave.

However confident and secure you may feel in your role and the organisation, it’s only natural to begin to question your position.

Have your colleagues spotted some major flaw in the business that you’ve overlooked? Do they know something you don’t? Should you put some feelers out there, just in case?

But if you’re observing that disintegrating team from the Human Resources department, you’re probably asking rather different questions.
How did TCE start? Can you stop it spreading further? And how can you prevent it from happening in the first place?

What causes the Turnover Contagion Effect?

Turnover contagion stems from co-workers sharing how they’re feeling and how they’re valued at work. When it’s positive it contributes to more productive working environments and more engaged workers. But when workers are looking around it breeds unrest – it becomes contagious. And once TCE starts it can be hard to stop.

And it seems to be getting worse nowadays, for a variety of reasons;

  • Lower unemployment rates globally make it much easier for your employees to find a new job, and feel more confident in looking for one. There’s also some evidence that the current political climate is discouraging people from looking outside their home countries. So once an employee starts to look, they may find that they are up against far fewer competitors on the shortlist.
  • Social media, and the web in general, have made it amazingly easy to browse for new jobs, even for those who are “not really” looking. LinkedIn is the most obvious place, but there’s a wealth of job sites and careers advice sites that can stir up job dissatisfaction. Social media also spreads the contagion. It’s always been obvious when an unexpectedly large number from one team leave, but now any employee who has reasonable internal connections can spot a trend.
  • Lack of job satisfaction also contributes. Just a few little shared problems in the magic combination that includes pay satisfaction, team relationships and support, communication across, up and down the organisation, the demands of the job, and opportunities for growth and training can add to the spread of TCE.
  • Poor job embeddedness in your company makes things even worse. Studies (1) show that a highly embedded employee is less likely to leave, and very likely to motivate co-workers to stay. A well-embedded employee has many connections within the organisation and the local community, and their job fits with other aspects in their life. The stronger those links, the more committed a worker is to the organisation. Leaving their job would mean sacrificing more than salary. They also risk the loss of friendships, community links and their sense of belonging. So a company where many workers are strongly embedded is less susceptible to TCE. When workers are poorly embedded, far more are ready to leave. They’ll be updating their resumes, watching job postings, applying for new positions, and that inevitably causes an increased individual turnover.

Add these together and you may also experience a fifth factor.

  • Damaged employer reputation. As awareness of increasing staff turnover grows, your reputation as an employer may take a hit. And from there it can become a downward spiral. Your employees notice that more people are on the move. They start to think there’s something wrong with the organisation. They conclude there’s something wrong with anyone who chooses to stay, and they start their own job hunts. The internal damage spreads rapidly over social and traditional media to the local community and across your industry, making it harder to persuade new people to work with you, as well as increasing turnover. It can even start to damage the reputation of the products or services you provide.

Why does Turnover Contagion Effect matter?

When your business starts to suffer from TCE you might think there’s an upside. A long-awaited clear out of rotten wood. A way to make savings on employee costs. A chance for re-organising a dysfunctional department. And yes, all those can be somewhat true.

But whenever you lose a team member there are costs, apart from the obvious ones of losing their production and having to recruit and train a replacement. And these costs far outweigh the benefits.

  1. You lose the training you’ve invested in that person.
  2. You lose their knowledge of your business and all the relationships they’ve built up, internal and external.
  3. You may have to ask other team members to take on their workload while you recruit and then get the new hire up to full productivity – with potential detriment to their normal work.

And as you lose more and more from a team you also risk the engagement and morale of all of their former colleagues. In fact, that’s the greatest risk of the Turnover Contagion Effect – that it spreads further.

As our recent White Paper says (2), “… failing to monitor and moderate turnover can result in leaver behaviour becoming a cultural mainstay of a particular role type, or an accepted norm in the business as a whole.”

Here are 11 Essential Things to Know About Employee Turnover

A Possible Cure for Turnover Contagion Effect

Like most infectious diseases, TCE is easier to prevent than it is to cure. But if you do find that you’re already suffering from TCE, there are a few dos and don’ts.


Reduce Social Communication

It’s certainly NOT effective to apply one commentator’s suggestion of trying to “…combat the social environment that stimulates turnover”.

That social side of work may be spreading the contagion, but it’s also the foundation of the strong sense of belonging to a business and a community that encourages people to stay.

Trying to move desks further apart, ban Tweets and Facebook posts or prevent canteen gossip will cause more problems than it solves.


Instead, it may be more productive to consider the root cause of the lack of organisational commitment.

You should be asking:

  • Are supervisors and managers actively supporting the teams experiencing Turnover Contagion?
  • Should you be finding ways to make your business feel a true part of your local community or your industry?
  • Are there working practices and benefits that could be flexed to make workers’ life and work more balanced?
  • Could community engagement or social responsibility programmes help?

… and Probable Prevention for Turnover Contagion Effect

But as mentioned, it’s easier to prevent than cure, so better still is to start at the beginning.

Think about who you hire and how you look after them when they start work.

Are you hiring people who align well with your company culture and values? Are you hiring people with the personality and behavioural traits that make them more likely to stay and perform in your company?

If you’re unsure, that’s where you should start. Try to find out what makes people stay with your organisation. What do your long tenure employees have in common? With your newfound knowledge of your ideal candidate, identify the applicants that fit the bill and prioritise them in your shortlist.

This may sound like a difficult task, but nowadays there are even analytics and technology solutions that can do this for you.

Once you’ve found the right people you still need to look after them and help them commit to your organisation. Introducing each new hire to your company in a motivating induction
process, where they get to know other workers, will give them a strong start.

As they become truly embedded they’re your best hope for preventing future outbreaks of Turnover Contagion.

At Sapia, we help you find your shortlist of candidates who are more likely to stay in your specific business. We combine your data with our workforce and data science to scientifically screen your applicants and predict who is more likely to succeed. And that can also include how well those candidates will fit into your team, your organisation and your community.


(1) Felps et al. “TURNOVER CONTAGION: HOW COWORKERS’ JOB EMBEDDEDNESS AND JOB SEARCH BEHAVIORS INFLUENCE QUITTING” © Academy of Management Journal 2009, Vol. 52, No. 3, 545–561

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


Read Online