This is a very long blog post. I’m not even sorry. Because there is a lot to say. Earlier this week I published a blog post on human workplaces. I’m trying to look at it from a practical perspective. What can we actually do?
I’m starting with recruitment not just because it is the beginning of the employment lifecycle, but also because it is an area that is crying out for a dose of the human touch. Consider the last time you were looking for work. How much of this did you see?
Wordy, long job descriptions.
Job descriptions masquerading as advertisements.
Unwieldy application systems.
The need to provide unnecessary information.
The need to copy information into boxes that was already on your CV.
Application forms so long they take hours and hours to complete.
Getting nothing back in return but a standardised email.
No contact from a person, just automation.
A lack of information about what it will be like to work there, apart from a list of generic statements and benefits on the website.
Questions that seemed to have no relevance to the job you are applying for.
No way to ask questions during the process.
Fixed interview dates with no room for flexibility.
Interviews that don’t start on time.
The application black hole.
Human? Not so much.
Remember the saying that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression? Your recruitment process is your first impression. More than that, it is a window into your organisational culture. How you treat your candidates says much about how you treat your employees. For those who are successful, the candidate experience is the first step to their whole employee experience – it is your first opportunity to create engagement.
There are many organisations who are still so arrogant as to think that people should be queuing around the block to work for them. Who don’t feel that they have to put in the effort. Who don’t treat recruitment as the strategic work that it is.
Of all the elements of the employee lifecycle and that people stuff that we do, in many ways it is also the easiest to automate and build technology around. It is absolutely possible to leverage technology in recruitment, but at the same time provide a human, people focused experience.
There are some questions to ask yourself first of all. What is it like to apply for a job through your processes? Apply for a job yourself with a candidate’s eyes. Get out and talk to those who have recently started working with you , and ask them how it felt. What was good and what was not. Ask too, how good are your managers at recruiting? Do they understand the changing context of recruitment? Do they know how to interview in a human way? If not, train them.
Start with the end in mind. What would you like your candidate experience to be. How would you like people to feel at the end of the process, whether they are successful in their application or not? What does a great, human, candidate experience look like, at your place?
Once you have answered these questions – turn to your process. Is it human?
And just from me, here are five more simple tips to make your recruitment processes a little more human.
- Stop, just stop, putting ‘if you have not heard from us in XX days assume you have been unsuccessful’ on your recruitment adverts. If people have taken the time to put in an application, complete your forms and tick your boxes, you can have the common decency to send them an email rejecting them. Automate it if you have to but just do it.
- Many organisations have an ATS (or recruitment system if you will). Some organisations have hundreds of vacancies and applications and it would be unfeasible to suggest that they can personally contact everyone who applies. But you can review your standard emails and make them warm and friendly. They can have a tone of voice that says a meaningful thank you.
- Stop scheduling the interview date before you even have the applications in. Are your senior people just so busy that they can only commit to one date? This approach is unbelievably outdated. Candidates have jobs. They have commitments. They may have caring responsibilities or children or medical appointments and they just can’t do your date. If you don’t change this, risk talent deciding just not to apply at all.
- Remember at all times: your job description is not your recruitment advert.
- Train your line managers. Not just in how to ask interview questions but how to create a great candidate experience. We bet for many it’s a term that they haven’t even heard of, something that they don’t even think about.
Okay. So I lied when I said there were only going to be five things. So here is one and it is a biggy. Stop doing competency based interviews. Just stop. Right now. Because do you know what? They don’t work.
Competency based interview questions are those that ask for real life examples of when you have done something, based upon the prescribed competencies for the role. The idea behind competency based interviews is that interviewers will be able to satisfy themselves that potential employees have the experience needed to do the job. Only there is a problem. They fundamentally ignore the importance of context. Past experience does not necessarily predict future performance. The ability to succeed in any given organisation can be attributed to many factors.
There is no guarantee, even with the shiniest answer in the world that scores the most points on a grid that a candidate will be able to replicate what they did in a previous organisation or under a different set of circumstances. Context is everything. The team, the culture, the management, the resources available. Unless these are identical, then the answer is irrelevant.
Another key problem is that people know how to answer them. They can be practiced, and it isn’t all that hard to make something up either.
Competency based questions assess people in the past, not the now or the future. They tell you nothing about someone’s potential to do a good job other than their ability to find a good example in the moment.
If you currently use competency based questions, consider replacing them with the much more human strengths based type. They allow you to get to know the real individual. And that is who you are hiring. Strengths based interviews allow you to get to know the person in front of you. What gets them motivated? What they like doing, and dislike too. Assess potential. You are also much less likely to get some sort of pre-prepared, scripted, generic reply. They allow candidates to bring their real self, not their example one.
Can we make recruitment a little bit more human? Pretty please?