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© Sculpture: Jos Dirix
© Sculpture: Jos Dirix

Objective Measurement and Honest Recruitment?

Pieter de Kiewit 26-11-2019 11:12 AM
Categories: Labour Market

Finding a job or the right candidate and making the match can be a struggle. Not only for hiring managers and applicants but also for me as a recruiter. Even about subsets of the recruitment process there are so many, often contradicting, opinions that it can make you paranoid. Many variables make an equation that is very hard to solve. Below some recent input for this.

How to adjust the Recruitment Toolkit?
Het Financieel Dagblad (the financial newspaper in The Netherlands) recently published an article that states that 85% of applicants thinks recruitment processes are not honest. They think Artificial Intelligence (AI) and gamification could help in this. Video-analysis alike but personal meetings should also be part of the process. 

I am a big fan of more tools in the recruitment toolkit and follow developments closely. Something that worries me is the lack of validation of new recruitment tools. My colleagues and I already expressed our worries about on-line assessments that are easy to understand but do not give sound predictions.  AI is often the combination of algorithms and historic data. The algorithms may be sound but the data often already holds all kinds of biases. For example, an algorithm may consider the best paid staff member as the best employee, but reality shows that he often got there because of already biased choices of recruiters and hiring managers.  Take for instance the “similarity attraction bias”: research shows that people are more inclined to hire candidates who have more similar traits or characteristics, even when those things aren’t correlated with on-the-job performance. 

This does not mean I am an unconditional fan of the old tools in the Recruitment Toolkit. We all know the story of the hiring manager who tells that he can decide if he will hire based upon a handshake. And very important, the world is changing quickly. So even if the old tools were very good for hiring for old-world-jobs, will they be for the new-world-positions?

Recruitment Skills are not Job Skills
My sister is very good at writing application letters. And she is great, but not in all jobs. Before I wrote about interim managers who are in assignments most of the time, also here one can ask: “is the manager with the best pitch the best interim manager?”. And finally there is a continuous flow of articles like these. Read these blogs and learn, but do not accept everything that is written as truth and wisdom. 

I think we should not forget that organizations should hire staff members that will help them achieve their goals. Recently a candidate, presented by us with a client, had many interviews, had an on-line assessment, agreement upon salary but was rejected because “the CFO did not get the right energy from him”. We will never know if the decision not to proceed was right or wrong. I do know that this treasurer is good at his job but not good in sales (selling himself). I hope my colleagues and I, but also our clients will keep in mind that presentation skills are not essential if you are looking for somebody who has to do number crunching all day. Application is not delivery.

What do we do with these observations?
First, let’s not forget this all is about people and not computers. A 100% guarantee is impossible and for me that is a good thing. Do accept uncertainty. 

Always start with thinking about what your organisation needs. Or as a candidate, do know what drives you. That is the basis for stable matches. Then think about how you want to measure the variables that will predict if there is a good match or not. Use common sense, ask questions, understand the tools that you work with. Discuss with people with various backgrounds. Is the personality dominant in the recruitment decisions? Or is it the skills? Will your assessment bring stable results and is there a connection between what is measured and what is relevant for the position?

I can predict there will be further blogs from me about this topic. It is about the primary process in our company and it is about people, the most important asset for all organisations. And there will be no general agreement shortly. What do you notice? What makes you mad, wonders or excites you? I look forward to your input.

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