The perfect candidate doesn’t exist, but science can get you close

The world of work is as old as civilisation itself. But despite the passage of time and the birth of modern recruiting over seventy years ago, companies have not yet been able to perfect a formula for employee hiring. Talk to any business executive and there is a common thread that  hiring the right people with ease remains elusive and seems to only be getting harder.

The consideration for how a person fits into the team fabric and understanding their work behaviours is left until the interview. Thus candidate selection is more often than not subjective and at the recruiter’s sole discretion. With average turnover rates at 24 per cent per annum, employee attraction and retention is big money.

Modern-day recruiting has become a risky costly gamble for businesses. The Harvard Business Review reports, “unsuccessful hiring is the single biggest problem in business today,” and that 80 per cent of employee turnover is due to bad recruitment practices. So if we know hiring is critical to the success of a business, why aren’t we better at it?

Essentially, it comes down to the human brain. Whilst the human brain is incredible, it is complex and can work in ways that can be fallible and counterproductive. Our brain has two systems, one rational and the other emotional. The rational side, or thinking brain, deals in details, calculations, and a conscious way of thinking. The emotional brain makes judgements based on subjective opinions and experiences without us consciously realising it.

Neuroscientists report that humans run on this brain for 95 per cent of the time. This means how we evaluate a job-candidates fit is often driven by personal biases and opinions as opposed to facts. We can’t help but want to hire someone more like ourselves or hire someone off a gut feeling, rather than assessing their potential.

The second challenge to traditional hiring methods is that they are still underpinned by attributes in a candidate’s thinking brain via the technical skills presented on their resumes. CV’s share no insight into the candidate’s emotional brain, which plays a much more significant role in the way they will make decisions and behave in a position. How they are motivated, and their likely fit into an organisation’s established culture.

This is where science can help. The inclusion of psychometric assessments in recruitment is now used consistently by over 80 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies. However, these assessments are often only introduced at the last stage of the hiring process. This is counterintuitive as companies can train technical skills, but can’t do the same for soft skills and cultural fit. Ideally evaluating a candidate’s technical and non-technical fit at the same time provides a more holistic understanding of a candidate’s overall fit.

Best practice recruitment should be utilising HR tech to run initial psychometric assessments to help manage critical decisions such as candidate screening and ranking. Computers will filter through key selection criteria and apply algorithms to objectively compare and contrast candidates that evaluate their fit based on both technical and non-technical requirements. This process lets science remove the inherent human biases attached to traditional hiring and make life easier for decision makers by providing them with a shortlist of the best candidates to choose from.

At the end of the day, computers should not make the final hiring decision – that right should still be reserved for humans. But science, in combination with technology, can play a much more significant role in identifying candidates that best fit a company’s key selection criteria and culture.

Rudy Crous, corporate psychologist and CEO & Co-Founder, Shortlyster

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