As every recruiter knows, the search for talent is becoming more challenging. globalisation and digitisation are reshaping economies the world over, changing the nature of work and removing geographic barriers to talent. Australians have always been mobile, however, more are now working in New Zealand, Singapore and Kong Hong than ever before. Many professionals, specially the millennium generation, are becoming digital nomads or location independent and travelling the world while they work. To meet these challenges ,organisations need to find more sustainable, objective and cost-effective ways of selecting their talent.

Assessment processes are changing, using the latest technologies, can help, by allowing you to digitally attract and screen out candidates wherever they are in the world with objectivity and fairness, making selection and promotional decisions more effective. Introducing this rigour and discipline into the recruitment process reflects what we, at Korn Ferry , have seen reflected in the best practices of high performing organisations in both the private and public sectors.  This article discusses the challenges in implementing assessments and provides suggestions on how these can be overcome to realise the short and long term value of using multiple assessment methods.

The Challenge

Less than 50 percent of the respondents in our recent talent acquisition survey said that they are taking advantage of recruitment technologies such as applicant tracking systems, video interviewing, or online assessment tools. There reasons for the low uptake are many but based on our conversations with HR leaders, we have observed four common challenges:

“Ticking the Box” – In many companies, the weight of the hiring or promotion decision falls heavily on the interview or panel, a process that can be fraught with bias, hence, hiring managers in these companies tend to view assessments simply as an additional part of meeting the basic requirements of the process.

Hiring managers have little understanding of what psychometric tools can tell them about the candidate and there is a lack of professional psychologist’s support to guide them through the process.

Short Term Focus – The lack of Work Force Planning processes means that managers put pressure on the recruitment teams to deliver quickly to fill vacancies that can impact service delivery without a longer-term view of what roles and capabilities will be important in the future.

Preparing for the Future – In both the public and private sectors, there is little understanding of how managers are selecting for capabilities and jobs that will be fit for the future.

To address the challenges and improve the selection process so that the real value of assessment can be realised across the employee life cycle, here are some suggestions, starting with a better candidate experience.

1. Consider the Candidate Experience

Managers often complain that the pool of applicants presented to them does not meet their expectations or requirements. They complain that the best applicants are not attracted to apply to their roles because of an overly complex selection process or the failure of the recruitment process to attract them. An attractive invitation is critical in a competitive environment for candidates. In addition, applying for a role can be a daunting and stressful task and more difficult for new graduates or other people who don’t know what to expect from the process.

Poor application and complex assessment processes can also impact an employer’s brand when candidates experiences and expectations aren’t met. And today there are many internet forums where they will post/share their experience – such as Glass Door and others. Similarly, when you’re looking for a restaurant – using Yelp or TripAdvisor – you are influenced by other people’s experiences. You are unlikely to eat somewhere with a bad review.

In fact, 70% of graduates claim that other people’s bad experiences with an organisation would put them off applying. For example, in an article published in Marketing Week last year (2016) Virgin Media in the UK had 130,000 applicants (18% were existing customers) for jobs in the organisation. Over a 12-month period 7,500 people cancelled subscriptions within 1 month of being rejected – their poor candidate experience cost Virgin Media.

Think about the talent pools that are critical to your organisations.  What is their typical background, education, current employers? What are the key platforms/professional organisations that they will connect to?  How technology savvy are they? What is your employer brand with these groups of people?  Ask your own new/experienced recruits about what worked for them in the process? And what didn’t?   Do you always provide the option for feedback to candidates after the process?

We are seeing a lot of innovative approaches around the world in ways that organisations are appealing to the millennium generation.  Some examples are:

  • Gamification – Heineken has made using their job site fun! When a candidate engages with their site, they ask the candidate 12 questions while showing the candidate what it’s like to work at Heineken with engaging, witty, short videos that capture the culture of their business. The candidate’s personal profile is then matched against functional areas of their business.  Anyone can go and try this out without having to apply to Heineken:
  • Realistic job profile – Today’s candidates want a realistic preview of the organization they’re applying to. And that goes double for the job they are interviewing for – they want the good, bad, and the ugly. Just like companies want to learn the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate. Realistic job previews are actions taken in the recruiting process to give candidates a sense of what it’s like to work at the company. They are not only designed for the company to see how the candidate handles certain situations but for the candidate to understand what working conditions are like. For example, Goldman Sachs’ website goes into detail about what working in their major divisions is like, the challenges, the environment and what the work entails. They also give students a good idea of the whole process, before, during and after the recruitment process is complete.
  • Situational Judgement Tests – Like the Realistic Job experience the Situational Judgement Test provides the candidate with a real world example of situations they may encounter in the work place and helps them to understand how they may react. An example from the Royal Mail Service in the UK:
    • Situation: “The fleet manager advises that you don’t need another vehicle, but she quickly arranges for the maintenance team to check and pump the tires. You’re now 25 minutes later than scheduled and it is still foggy. On your route, you need to park outside a roadside shop to deliver the owner some mail.
      – What do you do? Choose the Most Effective and Least Effective answer from the list below:
      a) Park up outside the shop and put your hazard lights (4-way flashers) on
      b) Find somewhere else to park which is not on the road, but might be a short walk to the shop
      c) Park on the pavement, so that your van is out of the way of other traffic.”
  • Adaptive Testing – instead of answering series of boring numerical questions, adaptive testing challenges the applicant by increasing the difficulty of the questions in response to the applicant’s ability to answer correctly. This saves time and keeps the applicant on their toes!

2. Take a proactive rather than a reactive approach

Like everyone in this crazy, last minute world, HR professionals and psychologists might pause and consider how they can get off the ‘hamster wheel’ process they seem to be in now.  Like the managers they support, HR can get caught in reacting rather than proactively develop mechanisms that can help managers to prepare and utilise psychometric reports.  Taking the time to step back and consider what steps can be taken to proactively ‘sell’ the importance and value of using assessment in recruiting, onboarding and developing individuals can pay off dividends for both the managers and the candidates through better screening and onboarding of candidates.

  • Developing your own elevator pitch on the value of assessment
    • Fairness and objectivity – the key aim of assessment is to ensure a consistent and objective evaluation of individuals, that is, that each candidate experiences exactly the same assessment experience – a difficulty in interview and panel processes
    • Consider the impact of turnover on your organisation, what is the impact of a poor hire? What services aren’t delivered because a poor hire was made? What are the costs in terms of morale and engagement of other employees when people leave?  Research shows that finding a replacement for someone who leave and organisation can cost up to 213% of their salary!
    • Why did previous employees leave? (many times this is due to a poor fit with the culture of the organisation and the personality profile of the individual).
  • Best Practice Recruitment Workshops – these can be short workshops to develop interviewing skills and managers’ ability to translate the psychometric reports into terms that they understand, providing insights to the candidates’ motivations and personality characteristics.
  • On line training materials – these materials can be captured in a Share Point or other facility so they are readily available to share with managers when they are filling their roles.
  • Developing a high-performance database – another proactive activity is to spend some time collecting data on the assessments of successful employees in the department to look for the important trends can be compiled into a simple report that highlights the attributes that distinguish this group. These capabilities and attributes can help managers understand the type of employee who will best deliver and fit the culture of their organisation.

3. Make stronger links between the job and the assessment process

To maximise the effectiveness of assessment, managers and HR professionals need to understand what the results mean and to translate these attributes into what it means for how an individual will perform in the role.   Having a strong context discussion with the manager around the challenges of the role today and into the future, the capabilities required can be used to connect to a proper assessment for the role. Making these results meaningful, provides the manager with a good view of the linkages between performance and the assessment process. For example, an analyst in a policy department may need to sift through reams of data to ensure that the data is accurate and maintains integrity. A candidate who is low on numerical reasoning or the capability “Think and Solve Problems” would be a risky hire.

Gaining the manager’s understanding of the role is the starting point for Korn Ferry ’s new suite of assessment tools.  Managers will complete a job profiling questionnaire in conjunction with the organisation’s capability or competency framework and an assessment process will be recommended to fit to the specific requirements of the job.  A unique aspect of this new approach is an assessment of six dimensions of organisational culture that will help to maximise the fit between the person, the job and the organisation.  For example, if we expect our candidate for the analyst role to work independently with a significant amount of structure, then a candidate who prefers a challenging, highly independent environment will have difficulty adapting to the role.

4.  Make stronger links between the assessment process and onboarding the candidate

There is no perfect candidate and onboarding new hires can be haphazard.  The information collected through the recruitment/ assessment process should be used to help the candidate and their manager to develop a plan for their induction into the team and for their longer-term development planning.  For example, if we know the candidate has a development area in the capacity, “Plan and Prioritise”, the manager can discuss ways to help support them in adjusting to the work environment.  This brings the practicality of the assessment into the successful onboarding process for the candidate and reinforces why the assessments were completed in the first place.

5. Consider the future of work: Begin workplace planning

We have all experienced the need to fill a role immediately without any thoughts for the future workforce, what capabilities will the department need for longer term success? Automation and new technologies will impact up to 30% of most jobs now and into the future. Ignoring taking the time to consider what the workforce will look like in the future and what capabilities will be required means hiring the same people for roles that may face radical change in the future, places their job security and the organisation’s future performance at risk.

To be effective, workforce planning needs to be integrated into an organisation’s strategic planning framework and incorporate strong governance mechanisms so it can be used to clearly identify the human resource (HR) strategies required to continuously deliver the right people—that is, those with the skills and capabilities necessary for the required work—in the right numbers, in the right place, at the right time.

Workforce planning is not a giant project that once is completed, finished.  It is a continuous business planning process of shaping and structuring the workforce to ensure there is sufficient and sustainable capability and capacity to deliver organisational objectives, now and in the future.

Why bother?

A robust assessment processes can open the door to finding talent better fit for the job, reducing turnover, improving employee and manager satisfaction and commitment, lowering hiring costs due to fewer hiring errors and more. It is really your passport to a more effective talent acquisition program.

Learn how TA can demonstrate more strategic value by leveraging technologies. Read the report: Talent Forecast: Unlock Untapped Potential

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About Contributor

Wendy Montague is a Senior Client Partner for Korn Ferry Advisory, Australia. Wendy is passionate about helping senior executives become more effective leaders. She understands the impact great leadership has on people performance, and has extensive experience in aligning people and organisational design with business strategies.

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