Working smarter

are our hiring practices in need of a makeover? 

Love them or hate them, traditional Q&A job interviews are still perceived as effective and widely favoured by recruiters. But are these old-school methods really still the best way to evaluate a candidate’s skills, experience and potential?

THE RENAISSANCE OF JOB OWNERS

Increasingly, traditional interviews seem to be missing the mark. For starters, it’s all too easy to game the system. Interview questions tend to be narrow and predictable, and can be practised in advance. Just because candidates nail the interview doesn’t mean they go on to become stellar employees.

Interviews can also be fraught by an unconscious bias. Interviewers tend to assume candidates with looks and charisma are more capable, and pick people they like and share common interests, rather than those who show the most promise.

The upshot is, traditional face-to-face and video conferencing job interviews are among the worst predictors of on-the-job performance. As forward-thinking companies seek to address these shortcomings, new and innovative hiring techniques are beginning to emerge. Here, we look at how some of these tools are being used to improve the selection process and engage potential hires.

Creating a clear picture

To gather more information on a candidate’s suitability, leading companies have begun incorporating online soft skills tests into their selection process. These measure traits like teamwork and rigour.

For example, as part of its graduate selection scheme, KPMG Australia uses a game-based assessment to get better insights into applicants’ decision-making skills. In addition, they conduct a values inventory to better understand the candidate’s work style and what’s most important to them.

Finance company Citi also successfully piloted a soft skills survey, comparing candidates’ responses to a profile based on top-performing Citi employees, allowing recruiters to conduct more informed interviews.

As well as building a more rounded picture of candidates earlier on in the game, this approach reduces chances of a potential bias. Moreover, it helps ensure all applicants are assessed against the same criteria. 

Online tests also means candidates receive more immediate and personalised feedback, which is something interviewees tend to appreciate'. 

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Screening at scale

Video is another medium used to reinvent hiring practices. At KPMG, graduates who have successfully passed their online assessments are sent a link to a video tool and asked to record their answers to a few pre-set questions.

With more than 10,000 graduates applying for each intake, this gives KPMG the opportunity to assess critical communication skills at scale. The videos are easily shareable, enabling greater collaboration between hiring managers. This pre-screening also means fewer candidates are called in for interviews, making the hiring process more time-efficient for recruiters.

It’s also more convenient from the candidate’s perspective. They can complete the process from home, at a time that suits them, with a tool they’re already comfortable with. This can make the experience less confrontational and saves applicants from the pain of successive interview rounds.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

A big failing of traditional interviews is that they don’t test on-the-job skills. That’s where job tryouts come in. These give candidates a challenge to tackle, and are popular in industries like finance and tech where problem-solving is key.

Investment firm Citadel is one of a growing number using day-long auditions to screen multiple applicants simultaneously. Working in teams, candidates compete for cash by solving real problems with data. Meanwhile, recruiters assess their technical prowess, as well as soft skills like collaboration and critical thinking.

The excitement generated by these events also provides an opportunity to engage with talent on a more practical and personal level, and forge potentially fruitful connections for the future. 

Other employers have introduced longer work auditions into the final stages of their recruitment process. After the usual round of face-to-face interviews, web hosting company Weebly offers choice applicants a paid trial week. This has helped unearth candidates who aren’t necessarily good at interviewing, but do great work. At the same time, candidates get a real sense of the day-to-day job.

INNOVATION IN ACTION

Taking the concept of job tryouts to a whole new level, some companies are now using virtual reality (VR) to evaluate potential hires in simulated work scenarios.

To narrow down top-performing applicants for its Emerging Leadership Program, Lloyds Banking Group hosts a day-long assessment visit where candidates complete tasks in a 360-degree virtual world. This gives recruiters a first-hand look at behaviour, and the opportunity to measure specific strengths.

In a bid to shake off its stereotypical bank image, CBA developed a VR careers experience app that pairs with Google Cardboard. The application allows users to run a virtual project from a CBA innovation lab, giving thousands of potential recruits insight into working at CBA and reposition the CBA brand as more future-focused.

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