How Technology & Psychology are Filling the Gaps of Traditional Hiring Process
Lately, we’ve been seeing a surge in employers embracing digital recruiting tools for talent identification and candidate screening. So we thought we’d revisit “The Perfect Hire: Technology and Psychology are Reshaping the Search for the Best Employees,” an article from the Scientific American Mind which explores technology’s increasingly prominent role in recruitment among the traditional résumé, cover letter, and face-to-face interview.
Authors Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Christopher Steinmetz argue that social media, online gaming, and data mining technologies are changing the way we search for employees and jobs for the better. What do you think? Click here to read the entire article or check out our highlights (and commentary) round-up below, and let us know!
The hiring process usually goes something like this: A recruiter gathers position requirements, creates an advertisement, posts it online, collects applications – then from there, selects a few candidates for interviews.
This process is rather flawed, as it ignores “best practice” findings from industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology, or the scientific study of behavior in the workplace. For example, although studies have shown IQ to be indicative of learning potential and thus the most consistent predictor of job performance, the majority of hiring managers don’t believe it to be a valid basis for hiring.
Some personality tests have also been shown to forecast career success more accurately than other measures, including educational credentials, recommendation letters, and interview-based assessments. For instance, personality tests based on the “five-factor model” (which describes personality on the dimensions of openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) have been shown to be more predictive of performance than the oft-used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (which determines how people perceive and judge the world around them).
(For those curious, higher levels of conscientiousness and lower levels of neuroticism are associated with better self-discipline and less reactivity to stress, respectively – both strong indicators of job success.)
So why are hiring managers reluctant to conduct these psychometric tests during the recruitment process? Studies have identified two major reasons:
Since such tests require more resources to administer, evaluators must routinely rely instead on in-person interviews.
Applicants perceive these tests to be less fair than in-person interviews and work samples. Perceived unfairness can decrease applicants’ self-esteem and motivation to pursue employment – not to mention likelihood of accepting the job offer should it be extended.
So if research discourages the use of psychometric testing in recruitment, how can employers get insight into your personality to determine if you’re a good fit for the position and organization?
What Your Online Activity Says About You
We’ve talked before about how social media can impact your job search, and numerous studies support the assumption that our online activities reveal aspects of our personality.
For example, one study observed that people who looked through 89 personal websites could detect the conscientiousness and openness of the unknown site owner as well as that of a long-time acquaintance. Another analyzed 695 blogs and their owners’ responses on a personality test, and found that neurotic bloggers often used words like “awful” and “lazy,” whereas agreeable ones were more likely to use descriptors like “wonderful” and conscientious ones, “completed.”
In yet another study, nearly half (43%) of all hiring authorities admitted to looking at candidates’ social media profiles to get insight into their personalities and consequently cultural fit. The caveat: they may be unknowingly (and illegally) excluding candidates based on characteristics that aren’t associated with job performance, like attractiveness, facial maturity, a handicap, or obesity. Linguistic analysis software such as TweetPsych and YouAreWhatYouLike which build a personality or psychological profile based on social media content and activity may be part of the solution to prevent this bias from affecting hiring decisions. Say a recruiter has two candidates with comparable qualifications; he or she may be more apt to offer one employment over the other due to an objective difference in ratings on some dimension like positivity.
Despite Twitter and Facebook’s popularity, LinkedIn is still unsurprisingly the preferred network for recruiting. A recent study revealed that due to LinkedIn’s public nature, candidates are less likely to falsify qualifications and work experience on their LinkedIn profiles as compared to their résumés.
But in our experience, and contrary to the authors’ claim, many hiring managers view LinkedIn endorsements as negligible. As Chamorro-Premuzic and Steinmetz mentioned, most people reciprocate positive references. And since LinkedIn makes them one-click, many people do it thoughtlessly. In addition, provided information is inherently skewed positively, as written recommendations aren’t posted to profiles without the consent of whom they’re written for, and endorsements that are given and which don’t currently exist on the recipient’s profile aren’t added without the recipient’s approval.
In summary, social media gives recruiters valuable information about prospective hires that’ll help them navigate the applicant pool. Likewise, job candidates must be aware of what information’s available online, and use social networks to their advantage!
How Videos and Games Seek to Replace the Interview
The problem with interviews is that they’re largely free-form. While employing the style creates more of a colloquial discussion than a straight Q&A, it also makes the interviewer more prone to asking reactive and leading questions that introduce or confirm bias. In comparison, research has found that the structured interview approach, which requires asking each candidate the same set of questions in the same order, is more predictive of future behavior and performance. In addition, research has shown that different evaluators are more likely to reach a hiring consensus when they don’t deviate from the interview schedule or probe.
Companies like SparkHire seek to help employers improve their hiring processes by providing a platform on which candidates can record responses to interview questions using a webcam. Such online video interview services help standardize and optimize the selection process by offering a more reliable and cost-efficient way to interview and compare candidates, although recruiters must be taught how to properly interpret video responses.
Also gaining momentum is gamification software, which offers a unique opportunity to HR professionals and recruiters to utilize game mechanics (e.g., points, challenges, badges, levels, leaderboards), behavioral science, and data analytics to predict a player’s personality, preferences, and job performance.
A psychometric recruitment game is a type of situational judgment test. You’re probably more familiar with situational interview questions, which pose realistic scenarios that can be tailored to a specific job position or company and are thus highly predictive of job performance. In this case, the scenario is the game. Knack is one of the companies leveraging the power of games in the talent assessment and development space. In their Wasabi Waiter video game, a candidate assumes the role of a waiter at a sushi restaurant and is responsible for completing many tasks such as reading and responding to facial expressions, creating a customer service strategy, and more. Every action and decision made in gameplay is recorded and translated into a multi-dimensional personality profile.
Such interactive character-profiling assessments can attract younger talent and help them channel their career ambitions to utilize their strengths. But perhaps the biggest benefit is seen by job candidates who have the talent but not the experience, and who may be discovered for their potential through their play.
But while video games and online simulations do offer some insight into how particular behaviors correlate with performance, further scientific research is required to confirm their validity across numerous jobs and industries.
Where Big Data Comes In
Crawling software seeks to compile the most accurate and comprehensive psychological profile about a particular candidate from information that already exists about them from all over the web. For example, apps like Klout and the now-defunct Topsy (3 alternatives here) use algorithms to quantify the degree to which a candidate’s online content is seen or interacted with.
These new digital recruitment technologies will not only improve companies’ candidate identification and selection processes, but also enable job seekers to get noticed by their dream employers and find good-fit opportunities. Of course, we need to conduct more research to ensure higher reliability and validity, and to maintain the personal aspect of recruitment. But the fusion of technology and psychology in hiring better is promising.
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