Written by Nathan Hewitt

Top 3 recruitment trends for 2020

The must-know trends for smart HR professionals in 2020

Automation and AI, ‘soft’ skills and candidate experience are top-of-mind for HR practitioners. As candidates, hiring managers and recruiters come to expect more from the recruitment experience, savvy organisations are leveraging technology to deliver their talent management strategy. Below are 3 recruitment trends HR professionals should follow to remain competitive in 2020.

1. Employers are prioritising the candidate experience

In an increasingly competitive market for talent, organisations need to create beautiful recruitment experiences that turn top candidates into employees.

The working landscape is changing: Gen Z are entering the workforce and millennials are expected to make up 50% of the workforce by 2020. They have grown up with technology and expect a seamless, tech-enabled recruitment journey. Mobile plays a key role in effective recruitment strategies. 46% of Gen Z and 38% of employed millennials have applied for a job via a mobile device, and candidates read 98% of text messages – compared to just 22% of emails.

Gerard Ward is no stranger to creating a great candidate experience. As the CEO of video interviewing platform Vieple and co-founder of psychometric assessment platform Testgrid, he’s seen how leading organisations use technology to craft candidate journeys.

“Candidates expect to have a great experience. When we try to buy something online, if the experience is not mobile optimised it turns us off,” says Ward. “Candidates expect the same consumer-level experience across the board from every organisation. A mobile-optimised experience has got to be at the front of an organisation’s recruitment model.”

Employers that are able to create an exceptional candidate to employee experience have their pick of talent. People who are satisfied with their candidate experience are 38% more likely to accept a job offer. An astounding 87% of candidates say a great recruitment experience can change their mind about a company. Also, 83% of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role/company they liked.

2. Organisations are hiring for soft skills

Organisations are shifting their focus to hire for soft skills as a number of factors converge to drive demand for agile, collaborative thinkers.

It’s been debated how appropriate the term ‘soft skills’ is to refer to crucial attributes like collaboration, agility and communication. Some propose a move to calling them ‘essential skills’, while researchers at Deloitte, prefer ‘skills of the heart’.

Faced with a national skills shortage that’s predicted to grow to 29 million skills in deficit by 2030, soft skills are the currency of the future. In fact, two-thirds of jobs created in the next ten years are expected to be strongly reliant on skills like communication and empathy.

Candidates who exhibit essential skills are being hired into flexible organisational structures – rather than a specific team. In an age of automation, where 25-46% of current work activities in Australia could be automated in the next decade, the role you hire into may not exist in a year. Flexible, agile workers will be able to upskill and cross-functionally move into new and emerging roles in response to industry disruption.

Ward observers there’s one major barrier to hiring for soft skills: hiring managers themselves. “Hiring managers want candidates from the right unis, with the right test scores and degrees,” he says. “Recruiters need to educate hiring managers. Additionally, they need to bring them on the journey about why it’s okay to bring talent in from different industries and backgrounds.”

3. AI matures – but still has a way to go

With up to 46% of current work activities in Australia under threat of automation in the next decade, there’s clearly some anxiety about the future of work. But rather than seeing that as a threat to our jobs, researchers at McKinsey go as far as to say this will “help drive a renaissance in productivity, personal income and economic growth.”

Despite the great promise of AI, 23% of HR professionals surveyed in recent IBM research were concerned that AI in HR could perpetuate or even increase biases in hiring and talent development. While AI does not bring biases to the candidate screening process, this does not mean it makes wholly unbiased decisions. AI is still reliant on the programming choices of the people building it, as well as biases that exist in the datasets it’s modelled on. If carefully designed, AI can reduce overt and unconscious biases in the recruitment process.

AI can be leveraged throughout the candidate journey to free HR teams from tedious, manual processes and enhance the candidate experience.

Join the conversation

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


What Everyone Knows About Assessment Centres But Won’t Say

To find out how to use Recruitment Automation to hire faster, reduce bias and save, we also have a great retail industry eBook on Ai in HR.

Let’s discuss the significant issues that talent acquisition teams face with assessment centres every day. As a solution provider operating in the high-volume recruiting space, we’ve identified seven common assessment centre problems.

Firstly, a bit of an explanation.

What is the recruitment Assessment Centre?

Assessment Centres or “Group Interviews” are a popular recruitment tool for those who specialise in high volume recruitment or large enrolment programs. They usually bring together a large number of candidates. This group is then reduced to a smaller group in the final phase of the recruiting selection process.

Let’s talk about the advantages of Group Interviews.

Firstly, group interviews offer significant advantages for high-volume recruitment. They are thought to yield better results. For every candidate interviewed more are hired with greater accuracy. That is, compared to standard face-to-face interviews. They are also quicker. In that, there is far greater efficiency in the number of candidates interviewed per hour. Many large-scale recruitment programs use assessment centres to evaluate candidates against one another using various exercises. These exercises are designed to assess your suitability for the job. They check your performance in your role as well as your knowledge of the company and its culture. Some exercises involve you working individually. Others assess you and your ability to work as part of a group.

For the candidate:

An invitation to an assessment centre shows that you are successful in the early stages of the recruitment process. It usually takes place after the first round of pre-selection interviews and before the final selection. This can be seen as more reliable and fair than an interview alone. It gives you the chance to demonstrate your potential in a variety of environments. Candidates should also be able to learn more about the culture of the organisation and the role of the workplace.

For the organisation:

Assessment Centres provide an evaluation method based on multiple evaluations, including occupational simulations. They monitor a candidate’s performance across a range of activities. This is to assess skills, competencies and traits that could be used in the workplace. Many companies use this method to recruit their graduate programs. In other words, to assess potential employees who have little or no professional experience. The bonus is that it also gives employers the opportunity to make a positive impression.

This all sounds great, except for these 7 Big Assessment Centre Problems

Assessment Centre Problem 1 

1. They are a pain to organise.
“No Julie, we do not have an afternoon session on Tuesday just on Monday and Thursday” – sound familiar?

Assessment Centre Problem 2

2. No one wants to be there.
The candidate wishes they had a job already. The hiring manager wishes they had their staff already. The recruiter wishes they were out for lunch. The general tone is:
“when will this be over?”.

Assessment Centre Problem 3

3. They are disappointing.
The results are never what you expected – for anyone! Maybe you attend with optimism. More likely you probably think to yourself “how will I select from this dire bunch of candidates???!“.
And every candidate is thinking: “This is ridiculous and unfair and like …totally ridiculous”.

Assessment Centre Problem 4

4. Speaking loud seems to get you noticed.
Seems like whether you are the assessor or the candidate, the person who speaks loud often wins out. Almost always leaving participants to wonder: “Were fair decisions made and were the right decisions made?“.
Loud does not equate to right. Being confident does not equate to right either. Right?

Assessment Centre Problem 5

5. They are all different.
There is little to no consistency or standardisation. For anyone is part of a national or global talent acquisition team – this is somewhat worrying. Particularly when you are recruiting for the same role across multiple geographies. When the bar to enter that role (and your organisation) moves, its a shift in goalposts and everyone knows: “that just ain’t fair!”.

Assessment Centre Problem 6

6. Keeping the paperwork for compliance reasons is terribly time-consuming.
The record-keeping on assessment centres is an administrators nightmare. The spreadsheets to obtain attendance records, then print-outs to capture scoring. And for how long do you actually have to keep every scoring sheet? Is it a year or is it 7?

Assessment Centre Problem 7

7. Calibration is rarely objective and never data-driven.
In concluding the assessment centre, the team calibrate their results together. This is the final decision-making process. Who should we progress to hire and who should be declined?
For anyone who has been an assessor, we all know that this calibration piece is too often based on opinions:  “I believe she will really fit in” “She seemed to be super friendly” “I think she will be a great hire”. Believe, seemed, think.  What is this? A fortune-tellers table in the corner of a dodgy country market? What happened to objective decision making?


Above all, they are ridiculously time-consuming! With so much time being spent on Group Interviews, should we think seriously about how they could be done better? Hours organising and days invested in an event with unpredictable results. Seems crazy! Can we do something to improve this costly and unwieldy process?

Sapia is solving these assessment centre problems.

It is for these reasons that Sapia has launched LiveInterview – the app that specialises in making group interviews:
1. Easier to organise
2. A pleasure to be there
3. Yield better results – especially considering all attendees were preselected using FirstInterview!
4. Totally fair and equitable
5. Consistent and standardised
6. Easy to administer. No record-keeping needed anymore, ever
7. Data-driven objective decision making plus it delivers a better hiring yield.

Assessment Centres have their place.

Now, let’s make the assessment centre shine, and produce the results we expect. To learn more, leave your details here, and we will be in contact.

Watch the video here – LiveInterview for Assessment Centres

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The Hypocrisy of Corporate America on Black Lives Matter

What corporate America doesn’t want to admit right now is that when COVID-19 forced them to make lay-offs and tough decisions about the things that mattered to them, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives were often the first to go. 

Does diversity still matter?

As noted by McKinsey in its report “Diversity Still Matters” this is not the first time companies have reneged on making Diversity and Inclusion a priority as soon as a crisis hits. 

The McKinsey report stops short of taking aim at the hypocrisy of these companies, stating it may be “quite unintentional: companies will focus on their most pressing basic needs—such as urgent measures to adapt to new ways of working; consolidate workforce capacity; and maintain productivity, a sense of connection, and the physical and mental health of their employees.”

And, yes, as short-sighted as this may be on the part of these companies, you might be able to accept that given the havoc that COVID-19 has created in our economy, this loss of focus is somewhat understandable. 

Then George Floyd died after a police officer held him down so he was unable to breathe. The world erupted to stand in solidarity for Black Lives Matter. Suddenly, corporate America seemed to care about equality again. We’ve seen unprecedented statements coming out from companies in support of the #blacklivesmatter movement. This with ice-cream behemoth Ben and Jerry’s perhaps the most memorable, publishing a page under the words “White supremacy” directly calling on President Trump to stop attacking protestors. Other top brands including Netflix, Google, Twitter, Nike and Reebok have also made bold stands supporting the Black Lives Matter human rights campaign.

Bias in recruitment

This signifies a huge shift in how companies engage with these issues and I’m all for it, but when we’re fighting institutionalised racism, and corporate America is a very much part of the institution, it doesn’t matter how powerful a statement is. Unless you’re unwilling to take action and to change internally.  I hope this marks a real change because until now many companies have made public statements and not taken any steps to make changes.

I should know. I’ve been trying to sell an AI-solution which removes bias from job applications to corporates for the past year. I’ve been in meetings where white executives have been hand-wringing that they don’t know how they can solve diverse representation in their companies. All this while I’m literally demonstrating exactly what might do just that.

Let me explain. Bias in the recruiting process has been an issue for as long as modern-day hiring practices existed. The idea of “blind applications” became a thing a few years ago. With companies removing names on applications thinking that it would remove any gender or racial profiling. It made a difference, but bias still existed though the schools that people attended, as well as past experience they might have had. Interestingly, these are two things that have now been shown to have no impact on a person’s ability to do a job. 

Ai for the win!

Artificial Intelligence was touted as the end-solution, but early attempts still ran through CV’s and amplified biases based on gender, ethnicity, age – even if they weren’t recorded, AI created profiles comparing ‘blind’ candidates to those in roles currently (ie. white men) – as well as favoring schools and experience.

True bias in recruiting can only exist if the application is truly blind (no demographics are recorded) and is not based on a CV. Through matching a person’s responses to specific questions to their ability to perform a job. It has to be text-based so that true anonymity can be achieved – something video can’t do as people are still racially profiled. 

Diversity & Inclusion

I’m not in any way proposing this solves everything in relation to Diversity and Inclusion within corporate cultures. However, it does remove bias, and I have the evidence. What I’m seeing is something even a bit more sinister. Companies opting for solutions that give the appearance of solving the problem and taking action. All this while actually not solving the problem and maintaining the status quo. I’m starting to wonder if this is deliberate. 

Is it possible that so many companies are scared of removing bias in their recruitment process because if they hire people of color, they might then be held accountable by their employees to turn their words around addressing racial discrimination into action? We’ll see. Also, if Black Lives really matter then the disproportionate number of Latinx and Black workers who lost their jobs will be given a fairer opportunity for future employment.

We cannot remove institutional racism with the mechanisms that have been used to enforce it. Lack of equal employment opportunities is one of those. Denying that solutions exist to address this, as well as using solutions that give an appearance of correcting it, are just ways of maintaining the status quo. 

Join the movement

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 here to get a personalised demo

Have you seen the 2020 Candidate Experience Playbook?

If there was ever a time for our profession to show humanity for the thousands that are looking for work, that time is now.  If there was ever a time for our profession to show humanity for the thousands that are looking for work, that time is now.

Download it here


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The Machine picked the wrong guy

AI used to inform decisions about people

I work with a team building a product-driven by AI which is used to inform decisions about people. This means I am often approached on social media or in-person by people who have a point of view about that, often with fear or frustration about being picked (or rejected) by a machine.

This week I received an email from a commerce/law graduate who had recently applied for a role at one of the big ‘accounting’ professional services firms. This student, let’s call him Dan, had to complete an online game in order to qualify for the next step which was a video interview.

To give himself the maximum chance of ‘doing well’ in the game, Dan created a dummy profile ‘Jason’ to see what the experience was like and get an inside read of the questions so that when he did it for real he would really nail it. This first time round he fudged the test as it was a trial run and he left most answers blank. When Dan went and did this for real, he was conscientious of course and wrote thoughtful answers and tried to pick the right behaviour in the balloon popping game!

Jason, who scored 44% received a video interview. Jason does not exist.

Dan, who scored 75% did not progress to the next round.

The machine picked the wrong guy

Let me be upfront and say that we too use machines to help identify the best-fit applicants for roles.

Every business like ours that works in this space recognises that this is new technology, and so still very much in the early stages of development. Like humans, machines will make mistakes. In our business, we call them false positives (people recommended who just aren’t right) or false negatives (people who are missed by the machine who could be right for the role).

Dan’s questions are legitimate…

  • -how can Jason who scored lower get through the process?
  • -how can Jason who fudged it and left most of the questions blank, get through?
  • -how does the number of balloons you popped, or let pop, dictate whether you are going to be a good hire?

When you are rejected by humans, either you hear nothing or you may get an explanation like — ‘you aren’t a good culture fit’ when they reject you. Machines may give you a score.

For me what this reveals is that any business who uses AI and ML for candidate selection, it’s critical to have empathy for the person who is experiencing this, in this case, empathy for the candidate experience.

  • What does it feel like to be judged based on how well you play an online game? Is that a human experience? How gameable is it? Is it fair to all, given that some people have grown up playing video games and others haven’t?
  • How do you give feedback in a way that’s human and helpful and ideally developmental? The feedback given here was to say you didn’t make the % threshold.

An individual’s traits, strengths and weaknesses can be predicted.

Machines can make better selection decisions about people because they have access to a larger more comprehensive set of data, can process data faster, and if built with the right objective data, they can be far less bias than humans.

When used in recruitment, they need to work for both parties — the organisation and the candidate. Building trust in these technologies is critical in our space. It can’t all be about the organisation getting their efficiency gains.

This means :

  • Making these experiences reflective of human experiences — it should feel like an interview not like a game.
  • Giving the candidate something back, by way of qualitative feedback rather than making you feel like a number or a percentage on a distribution chart.

Recruitment wants to rise above being a process. So AI in recruitment should enable that if it’s to be trusted by candidates.

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