Technology can be a great asset to recruiters during the hiring process, especially predictive technology. If you’re unfamiliar, predictive technology is a body of tools capable of discovering and analyzing patterns in data so that past behavior can be used to forecast likely future behavior.
David Bernard, CEO of AssessFirst, joins us in the following Q&A to uncover how you should be using predictive technology during the hiring process.
HR Daily Advisor: How can predictive technologies support recruiting?
Bernard: First, it’s very important to be precise when we talk about predictive technologies. When hiring, we can predict success and engagement using different kinds of information (e.g., résumé, psychometric questionnaires, cognitive games, video interviews). Today, most recruiters still rely on the information they can extract from a résumé, such as education, previous experience, or prior industries.
The problem is that none of that information is really predictive of future performance. But if you integrate truly predictive information like aptitudes, motivations, and/or personality, you can get valuable insights concerning the capacity of your candidates to succeed and thrive in the roles you are hiring for.
Numerous studies have been conducted concerning the efficiency of recruiters’ decisions when they use predictive algorithms. When those algorithms take into account the right type of information (info concerning candidates’ potential), it regularly leads to 25% more accurate predictions (in comparison to decisions taken without the help of such predictive algorithms).
HR Daily Advisor: What are some of the pros and cons to using predictive technologies throughout the hiring process?
Bernard: Using predictive technologies, you can process hundreds or even thousands of applications in just a fraction of a second. Predictive technologies are not prone to cognitive overload. They keep the same level of precision and fairness, no matter how many candidates you need to prescreen.
Another big advantage of those technologies is that when creating a predictive model, the model can detect immediately whether the identified criteria will create a bias toward certain populations (i.e., based on gender, ethnicity, or age). And if so, those potentially “unfair criteria” are immediately removed from the model. Ultimately, those technologies can really make the preselection process more fair for everybody.
Concerning the cons, creating a predictive model requires having a certain amount of data at your disposal. Imagine you want to hire a new account manager. If you already have 10 or 20 account managers working for your company, you can easily assess them in order to identify the key criteria that differentiate your top performers from your average and bottom performers. But if you hire your very first account manager, it can be tougher because you don’t have any reference for calibrating the model.
In this case, you will have no other choice but to rely on benchmark models. Those models, created based on the analysis of thousands of professionals from various industries, can be useful, but they will never be as predictive as a model based on what is really going on inside your company.
HR Daily Advisor: How can organizations confirm employees are a good fit for a position and reduce turnover?
Bernard: If you want to predict future performance, I would recommend focusing on aptitudes and personality because those criteria have been proven to more accurately predict a candidate’s capacity to deliver concrete results in almost every type of job.
Reduction of turnover has more to do with the inner motivations of your candidates—indeed, if you can identify what your candidates really want and what drives them. And if your company aligns pretty well with those drivers, then it will not be too complicated for you to retain your best employees.
HR Daily Advisor: Why are cultural fit and soft skills becoming more important for successful hiring?
Bernard: We have now entered a new era in which competencies are rapidly becoming more and more obsolete. We don’t even know which competencies will be crucial to master in 5 or 10 years. In an ever-changing environment with increasing uncertainty, more complexity, and more ambiguity, soft skills will inevitably play an important role.
What will count will not be the skills and the competencies we master today but our capacity to keep up with that rhythm of change and our ability to constantly reinvent ourselves. And, it is precisely this type of capacity that soft skills can help us detect.
Cultural fit is equally important because of the evolution of the relationship Millennials have with their work life. Unlike previous generations, Millennials crave meaning and a sense of belonging. They want to work not only for a company with values important to them but also with people they have a true connection with. And this is exactly what cultural fit can measure.
HR Daily Advisor: How can screening assessments help determine cultural fit?
Bernard: What is culture? At its core, culture is a common set of beliefs and behaviors that are shared by a group of people. When focusing on behaviors, motivations, and/or values, screening assessments can reveal those particular sets of beliefs and behaviors for every candidate who applies for a specific job in a particular company.
By comparing the beliefs and behaviors of those candidates with the organization’s, it becomes easy to measure the cultural fit between those candidates and that particular company.
HR Daily Advisor: Soft skills are hard to measure. Do you think predictive technologies will be able to easily measure these skills in the future?
Bernard: Yes. In fact, this is already the case. Personality, motivational questionnaires, aptitude, and cognitive tests have been around for a very long time, and they have been doing a great job revealing people’s behaviors and soft skills. What is new is the format of those assessments (hello, gamification!), as well as the possibility to integrate those data in predictive algorithms.
For example, at AssessFirst, we moved from a descriptive approach whereby recruiters asked candidates to complete questionnaires and tests to obtain a simple description of them to a more predictive approach whereby recruiters can now obtain precise information concerning the probability of their candidates’ success and commitment in the roles they are hiring for in the very specific context of their unique company culture.
HR Daily Advisor: Gamification to assess soft skills sounds interesting. Would you be able to provide more detail about how recruiters can use gamification to assess job candidates?
Bernard: It has been known for more than 50 years now that aptitudes and mental agility are amongst the most predictive criteria we can use when we want to predict success in the workplace. And this is valid for almost every level of jobs, whatever the type of industry we are talking about.
The problem is that most of the tests that have been around to assess those criteria are pretty lame. They make us feel as if we were back in school. You have to answer those questions with numerical and verbal reasoning and abstract reasoning—if A=3 and B=7/2, how much is A*3,5B?
Today, some companies are moving from that “super-old-school approach” to a more “gamified approach.” The idea is to propose “video games” during which all the interactions the candidate has with the material will be scrutinized to detect patterns of behaviors. Every one of those patterns can be linked to certain forms of thinking and learning styles. The idea behind all this is that some forms of thinking and learning are more suited to certain roles.
Don’t get me wrong: Those tests/games are far from being “anxious free” for the candidates who have to complete them. But at least they increase the level of the completion rates we can observe for those kinds of assessments.
HR Daily Advisor: What are some of the best prescreening assessments employers can use to determine whether a candidate is a good fit?
Bernard: Nowadays, everybody is talking about soft skills. Those soft skills have been demonstrated as good predictors of performance, engagement, and happiness in a lot of positions. And for a lot of people, “soft skills” equals “personality.” But when you want to analyze a candidate’s true potential, personality just tells one part of the story.
The best tools are those that focus not only on personality but also on aptitudes and motivations. In fact, it is the combination of those three key factors and their comparison with a well-designed predictive model that can be truly predictive of future performance and engagement in the workplace.
|David Bernard is the CEO of AssessFirst. An Occupational Psychologist and a graduate of Université Paris 5 – René Descartes, Bernard launched AssessFirst only 20 days after obtaining his master’s in psychology. As CEO and Chief Creative Officer of AssessFirst, he is in charge of branding and user experience. He also participates in executing various research projects conducted by AssessFirst, particularly in the field of group performance analysis.
Bernard is also a renowned author and speaker. He has spoken at over 20 business schools and universities, including HEC, IESEG, ISG, and EM Strasbourg. He led two talks during the latest edition of “HR Speaks” on the subjects of “why some candidates succeed and others don’t” and “big data and models that predict professional success.” His latest book, 18 ways to get that job … without paying, f***ing, or killing, has been successful throughout Europe.