RESOURCES

The struggle to find the candidate with the right “fit” to the job and organization is a constant battle. 45% of employers find it challenging to fill the talent demand within their organizations. As organizations move from a structure-driven culture to a people-driven culture, organizations are investing heavier into building a sound talent pipeline, with a bigger emphasis on hiring the “right” people to drive and steer the organization. This usually involves:

Quantity of Candidate Pool

  1. Putting Up the “Right” Performance: Employer invests in branding efforts to attract a wider pool of potential candidates to apply for a particular job role. For instance, management trainee program hiring includes revamp of the career application webpage and having campus road shows or career fairs where ex graduates turned employees lend support with their success stories. (Please refer to Blog Article #1)

 

Quality of Candidate Pool

  1. Finding the “Right” Candidate: With the net cast to a wider audience, how do you know the potential candidates are the ones you are looking for? Increasing the candidate pool may increase chances of finding suitable candidates, however it cannot be seen as a guaranteed cause-and-effect. For instance, in the recent survey we conducted, a lack of candidate fit, and quality is a significant cause of concern for HR professionals. (Please refer to Covid Talent Strategy Report)

 

This article will explore the points of contention behind finding the “Right” Candidate.

Let’s portray this through a scenario drawn up below.

Management Trainee Program of Organization X

Candidate A: “This organization and job seems to be the one I am gunning for…! I really hope to be given the chance to get through the selection rounds which includes a series of assessments and then impress the recruiter during the interview!”

Recruiter B: “There are just too many candidates to look through! Manpower seems to be lacking and I have to look through so many resumes and watch video interviews of the candidates. What should I do?

Recruiter C: I don’t think Candidate A is too suitable for the role…there is just something off which I cannot really pinpoint…

Management of Organization X: “We need to make sure our management trainees are the “right” fit so that they can enter the organization and deliver value!

Does the above ring a bell?

Could you pick out potential biases that might impede the search of the “right” candidate?

 

Biases in the Recruitment Process

From a Candidate’s Perspective

Social Desirability.

Based on the candidates’ understanding of the job role they are applying for; they would typically provide winning responses that they think attract the attention of recruiters. Putting up an act, also known as ‘impression management’, is useful in helping them get a better chance at moving on the recruitment process.

For instance, during the initial screening stage, a candidate might select answers on an online test that reflect an “ideal” version of themselves. Likewise, during interactions such as face-to-face interviews or even during an assessment center, candidates might try to portray a version of themselves that they think will make them a good fit to the job or organization. This pretense could mask poor underlying fit between the candidate and the organization.

 

From a Recruiter’s Perspective

Subjective Judgements

Have you heard of recruiters or hiring managers forming snap judgements about candidates moments after or even before the interview? Humans in general tend to formulate impressions and thoughts based on immediate cues like a smile, posture or eye contact.

For instance, research has found out that it takes less than 1 second for an individual to determine if someone is trustworthy or even competent.

Overwhelming Processes

In the event of high-volume graduate hiring, the sheer amount of candidate applications, during strategic hiring periods, can result in talent acquisition professionals feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with process inefficiencies, such as duplicate applications from the same candidate, or misalignment across different recruitment tools and systems.

Also, can you imagine a team of recruiters sieving and reviewing large numbers of video interviews and resumes (according to research, it takes 7.4 seconds to review a resume)? The fatigue, pressure, and time constraints can inadvertently lead to poor decisions and possible bias in selection.

 

From a Management Perspective

Is “Right” really “Right? – Dated Competency Frameworks

Going back to the title of this article: what does the “right” candidate entail? In the case of management trainee hiring, the ‘right’ candidate will probably mean that the candidate has passed multiple rounds of assessments (i.e. psychometric assessments, assessment centers, panel interview), all of which are derived from the organization’s competency framework.

This framework denotes certain behaviors a management trainee should possess to be successful, designed by subject matter experts (SMEs) and at times, with external consultants.

However, are these frameworks validated and proven to be effective, or have they been reviewed consistently to ensure that they are reflective of successful behaviors of today?

 

Recommendations

Minimize Social Desirability Tendencies. Any offline or online communications to candidates should be clear and direct to prevent them from misunderstanding any part of the selection process or guessing what the organization expects of candidates. During the interview or any face-to-face interactions, when asking questions, focus on the process rather than the outcome. Focus on clarifying the “why’s” and asking probing questions – these will aid in understanding the candidate better. Lastly, it is always good to build rapport with candidates to ensure that they are comfortable, which would lead to a more truthful discussion. Using frameworks and rubrics can help guide the hiring manager to give more objective ratings of the candidate.

Leverage Assessment Tools and Reports. Psychometric assessments help you understand each candidate much better, beyond the resume. If you are using psychometric assessments as part of your selection process, do remember to check with your vendor on the type of output reports available. While most psychometric assessments require a trained consultant to interpret the output, you should look for a vendor that provides reports that are easy to interpret and aid you in the next stage of selection, such as during an interview. The output reports should be easy to understand and apply, including strengths, developmental areas, and recommendations. User friendly reports are much more useful because they can be quickly referred to before and during each interview, to achieve effective interviews.

Leveraging Technology. Using AI to help alleviate issues faced when managing high volume recruitment might help. For example, tools that leverage AI to provide resume parsing, job matching, and video interview analysis could reduce man hours and potential biases during screening and selection. However, it is crucial as HR professionals to thoroughly understand how these AI enabled tools work. Some technologies are able to significantly improve the quality of selection, while improving efficiency.

Refresh and Ground Your Competency Framework. When designing or refreshing a competency framework, it might be a good idea to adopt a top down and bottoms up approach. The inputs from SMEs and management within the organization coupled with input from existing graduate hires across different intakes might result in a competency framework that reflects key success behaviors that are aspirational and yet grounded in real life daily work. This initiative should be done at least on a yearly or bi-yearly basis to reflect the changing competencies and industry trends.

 

Conclusion

To meet business demands and build a sound talent pipeline, it is imperative to have a good process to hire the right people. We must consider increasing the size of the candidate pool (quantity) and selecting the most suitable candidates (quality) concurrently. To do so, you do not need a drastic transformation effort. You can start by reviewing your current selection processes and tools part by part, to help you be more objective in the hiring process. By doing this, it will help your organization better understand people and make better people decisions every day.

Oct 15, 2020

It’s a serious time for the world. Nation after nation is taking strict measures to enforce social isolation for their people in an attempt to contain the COVID-19 spread.

At this point, the message is crystal clear: this virus is not to be taken lightly. COVID-19 alone has crippled many organizations of revenue and business development, from stock market crashes to more than 90% cancellation in flights for airlines.

There’s no doubt about it – social distancing is necessary to flatten the curve and stop the spread of the virus. But, at what cost?

From an employer’s perspective, it is important to recognize the reality of the situation, and not downplay the effects that social distancing brings to your organization’s productivity.

For the reality is, your people are at their most vulnerable now. Why is that so?

 

Tipping the work-life balance scale

With any global pandemic, the emotional strain of managing one’s personal life tends to take center stage, where employees might experience increased personal responsibilities such as taking care of their families, practicing social distancing to protect their loved ones, and recalibrating household and health habits.

With that end of the balancing scale tilted, employees still have to juggle and find a balance with work. Not just work, but changes in the way of working and fears of work instability during a time like this.

 

Any organizational initiative is a work disruptor

On top of the emotional load and changes in responsibilities as we cope with social distancing, changes implemented by organizations have introduced new styles of working, reconfiguring how employees work.

Organizations have been quick to introduce and implement policies and business continuity plans (BCPs) to ensure that businesses can function with minimal disruption.

However, while initiatives like working-from-home (WFH), virtual team meetings, and leveraging digital tools to track and manage work are supposedly effective on paper, implementing and routinizing these initiatives can be challenging at first.

Any new change is a disruptor to work, no matter how good the initiative is, and your employees will need to get used to this new normal as soon as possible.

What should organizations or leaders then do to ensure a smooth transition of these organizational initiatives from ideation to an immediate reality?

 

#1 Keep initiatives relevant

With an influx of digital tools and recommended ways of working available out there in the market, which are the ones that are the most relevant for your organization? For instance, with more than a dozen video conferencing tools out there, which should you as a leader choose? Do we not face a situation of the tyranny of choice here?

To effect a smoother change, organizations can consider working with what employees are already familiar with and improve on that, so that there is no need for an introduction of a brand new initiative. This might encourage greater buy-in and commitment, resulting in lesser resistance.

If employees are familiar with an existing phone conferencing tool, there is no need to introduce yet a new video communication tool for the sake of it. In addition, depending on the team preferences, having facetime with video conferencing might sound good on paper, but it might not serve the purpose if it is something the team is not comfortable with.

In addition, while an organization can introduce a host of new initiatives, it is really up to the individual team leaders and department heads to take charge of these initiatives and weave them into their team routine and culture. As a leader, curating a few initiatives that work well for the team will not only make it easier to follow through, but also create lesser confusion within your team.

For instance, due to team culture and work requirements, a roving sales team head might want to consider having more virtual face time as well as emphasis on social distancing and better etiquette and hygiene habits.

 

#2 Communicate, communicate, and communicate!

To reduce uncertainty when a new change or initiative is introduced, it is imperative these are well communicated to employees in a clear and decisive manner. As this change will be a disruptor to work, mishandling the time and method of communication can lead to confusion and discussion within employees.

Recommended Steps When Initiating Change:

1. Communicate to employees before implementation. Do this as early as possible so that employees can prepare themselves. This should be followed with a note with more details and steps.

2. Clear follow-up communication. Follow up communication should explain the rationale of the initiative, the impact, expectations, clear guidelines, and FAQs so employees can be fully onboarded as an active user of this new initiative. This should be reinforced by multiple follow up communication to ensure the stickiness of the initiative.

3. Creation of a feedback channel. As active users, employees should be able to give feedback and clarify queries relating to this situation in a safe environment. A feedback channel or committee, or even their managers should act as change champions to provide support and clarification to employees.

 

#3 Complement “hard” initiatives with “soft” touches

When implementing a new initiative or revised way of working, resistance should be expected. This can stem from employees finding it cumbersome, or it could simply stem from confusion.

Imagine an employee who is used to working in an office, with a routinized schedule, and using familiar tools to complete work efficiently. Now, that same employee has to cope with working from home, on a different work schedule and lesser access to facilities, using a set of new digital tools for communication and work.

While that can be an exaggeration, the reality is that employees have to go through some change as a consequence of the virus. Therefore, leaders and managers should try to empathize with employee’s emotions during this period of time.

There will be an increased need for clarification, mutual understanding, and sensitivity, especially during the initial phase. Initiatives should come hand-in-hand with soft human touches to effect.

 

Conclusion: Every employee is part of the organization

Each employee counts, regardless of a C-suite leader or an entry-level employee. Cascading of emotions about the pandemic and what organizations are proactively doing to ensure the business continuity and employee wellbeing should be clearly communicated to each level of employees.

It should start with communication between manager and direct reports should be genuine, transparent, and proactive, with multiple channels of communication for clarifications and concerns.

Only then, can the culture of unity be forged during a trying time like this, rather than encouraging a culture of blame.

As people managers, this is the time to put practice to reality during this pandemic, for the present and for the future.

Mar 26, 2020

Today’s talent landscape is such that every company is eyeing the top 5-10% of talent. The competition is higher than ever, with human resource professionals constantly scratching their heads for the next big idea to bait the top talent pool.

Ensuring the constant supply of talent is crucial as it maintains work productivity and employee engagement within the organization. Furthermore, finding the right talent leads to an increase in retention rate, innovation, and leadership development.

But in the pursuit of attracting this talent pool and reaping its benefits, have you ever paused to evaluate if you are pulling the right audience? The talent game has changed drastically from just a decade or so ago. What was previously an employer-driven market has now flipped into a candidate-driven market.

 

The Challenges

A typical recruitment process includes sourcing for candidates, assessing for their suitability, and an acceptance phase where shortlisted candidates can reject or accept an offer. While this process might seem relatively straightforward, there are challenges that have emerged over time.

Do any of the below strike a chord?

Sourcing Phase
“I cannot seem to get enough candidates to apply…!”
“Candidates drop off halfway in the recruitment process…”

Assessment Phase
“Candidates did not meet the selection criteria…”
“Hiring Managers do not think the candidates are the right fit!

Acceptance Phase
“Candidates do not want to accept the offer”
“More new hires are leaving within the 1st 6 months!”

As these challenges become commonplace, it also suggests that candidates seem to have an increasingly different position within the talent recruitment space.

A Role Reversal: The Audience and Performer

The role of recruiter and candidate seems to have somewhat changed over time, where increasingly, the candidate seems to yield more autonomy and power when it comes to selecting what they want to do and where they want to apply for. For instance, a fresh graduate might apply to a few organizations for the same management trainee program, or have multiple offers from competing organizations in the same industry. 2 key factors for this phenomenon may include:

The advent of the Internet. Remember the times when candidates used newspapers to look for job advertisements, deposit hardcopy resumes by post, then wait patiently to be called up for an interview? This is no longer the case. Candidates now have the same tool as recruiters and hiring managers: The Internet. Candidates can scour through different job postings, access information, and engage in knowledge sharing about different job roles, industries, pay scales, and organizations. For instance, 83% of job seekers and employees research about prospective organizations. This means that individuals now have a much more informed eye when it comes to which organizations and jobs to apply to.

Globalization: Tyranny of Choice. Due to increased mobility, potential candidates have a lot more job options to choose from. Organizations looking to broaden or enter certain industries and key markets are looking for the same talent. Also known as “War for Talent”, organizations are constantly competing to hire for that elusive “best talent” that will help them grow their business. Candidates who have certain key skill sets have a myriad of options when it comes to applying for organizations and job roles. For instance, “hard” skills such as digital literacy and “soft” skills like curiosity and adaptability are common terms coined when hiring for that digitally savvy, forward-thinking talent.

Using the fresh graduate above as an example, as much as HR personnel are assessing the candidate’s potential as a management trainee, the candidate is also evaluating every single step of the recruitment process, comparing it with other organizations, and finding the best possible option to develop his or her own career.

In this time and age, organizations who are used to being the audience, evaluating the prospective candidate, may find themselves taking the place of the performer, where they need to engage and put up a worthy performance to attract these talents.

Giving Your Candidates a “Performance-Worthy” Experience

In the past decade, a myriad of tools and practices aimed at increasing employer branding or candidate experience during the recruitment process has gained great popularity.

Tools that carry the tags “AI”, “Technology-Driven”, or “Gamification” seems to be all the rage now, with 35% of organizations indicating that AI will be a game-changer for recruitment.  While these tools measure candidates’ behavioral fit to a job role, using such tools can benefit employer branding by giving the impression that organizations are riding the waves of being “tech-savvy”, “young”, and very much in tune with the candidates of today.

However, as HR practitioners or recruiters, we should leverage on how these tools can both help us better assess candidates effectively while giving candidates a good recruitment experience – it should be an assessment first, candidate experience second approach.

Steps to the “Right” Performance

1. Getting the Fundamentals Right

Target Audience. Are you hiring for high volume, high stake roles targeted at fresh graduates, such as management trainee programs? Or are you hiring for a highly specialized, senior technical role? This determines how you source and assess candidates.

Recruitment Platform. Does your organization have an Applicant Tracking System? If no, how do you handle candidate recruitment, and how do you manage candidates? If yes, are different modules within the recruitment process streamlined? For instance, do you have a common data platform that evaluates candidates holistically based on multiple data sources (e.g. psychometric assessment results, resume outputs, and even social media footprints)?. On a broader level, having these data sources may enable you to run big data analysis to inform hiring trends for the organization.

Assessment and Competency Framework. Are the assessments and selection criteria that you set clearly measuring the skill sets and competencies of potential candidates? Are these selection criteria and competency framework validated for performance? Are they shown to lead to increased job performance? This measures whether the candidates you shortlist have been assessed fairly for job fit.

2. Consider adding the “wow” factor

This is when you can consider adopting gamified tools or practices that may improve candidate experience during the recruitment process. Depending on the target audience and the volume of hiring, organizations might consider adopting tools to increase candidate experience such as adding gamification to their current psychometric assessments, revamping their careers page, having chatbots to interact with candidates.

3. Hearing from Your Audience Regularly

Lastly, you will never know if you are doing a good job if your audience does not give feedback. You may want to elicit numerical and qualitative feedback from your candidates at the end of the interview, or at the end of the assessment process, to understand their perceptions and thoughts. Questions such as, “How do you rate the recruitment process?”, “What have we done well?”, and “How can we improve our experience?”. These valuable data, when analyzed on a small or large scale, can give organizations meaningful feedback on employer branding

Conclusion

Building a talent pipeline is crucial for any organization, and finding the right talent for the right organization and role requires a conscious effort to select the most effective assessment mode while engaging with the candidate simultaneously. Just like how the “right” performance requires substance and flair to engage audiences, an effective and engaging recruitment strategy is needed to attract the “right” candidate.

Jan 10, 2020

Startups are commonly perceived as the new “cool kid on the block”, standing for everything contrary to their longstanding corporate counterparts. While traditional corporations value hierarchy, routine, and authority, startups value environments that offer innovation, challenge, and opportunities.

Today, startups are no longer just a type of company – it has evolved to become a state of mind with a cult following. Many have advocated the “startup mindset” even in large organizations, with the aim of fostering innovation at a rapid yet sustainable pace.

With this inherent positive image of startups and its culture in mind, human resources (HR) tech company Pulsifi with set out to investigate this question: are certain people with certain traits more attracted to work for startups than others?

Conducted by Pulsifi’s research team, the results for this study can help large organizations and startups leverage this information in their efforts to attract talent, thus leveling the playing field in the talent competition.

 

The mechanics

For the study, respondents were required to go through a couple of surveys, with the aim of understanding them holistically. Pulsifi studied respondents’ social network, employment history, demographic details, as well as the following three aspects:

  • Personality: Personality is a product of nature and nurture, and describes a combination of qualities that define the way you think, feel, and behave. Research has also shown that personality can predispose you to be attracted to certain hobbies, lifestyles and jobs. For example, an outgoing person is more likely to meet different kinds of people than to be a recluse.
  • Organizational Values: Specific to the workplace context, the study wanted to find out if people placed great importance on certain characteristics in the workplace. Some people might like to work in organizations that have a very people-oriented culture while others might like to work in organizations that offer them many opportunities to work alone with great autonomy.
  • Work Interests: Work interests were examined in the study to find out if people who liked startups tend to have similar patterns in the type of things they like to do at work. While some may prefer working with machinery, others may prefer jobs that deal with people. Work interests may be related to people’s attraction towards startups, and this could be influenced by how people perceive the working environment of startups.

 

The outcome: A combination of elements

The study concluded that it is not any one specific aspect that drives people to be interested in startups, the determining factors come from an interesting combination of personality and work interests, and organizational values.

People who are significantly more likely to join startups are highly interested in work activities and tasks that:

  • (a) allow them to help people by teaching or assisting them (social work interest),
  • (b) involve creating original work (artistic work interest), and
  • (c) involve leading, directing and influencing others (enterprising work interest).

Taking both personality and organizational values into consideration, the study found that people who are keen to join startups have certain distinct characteristics.

In terms of personality, these people are generally altruistic and are social risk-takers (e.g., willing to disagree with an authority figure on a social issue). With regard to organizational values, they value growth as a reward.

It is important to note that these are all very different aspects to a person; it is not one specific aspect of a person that drives them to be attracted to start-ups.

 

What does this mean for employers?

Now that we know this relationship between talent and startups, how can employers make use of this data? There are two key takeaways that can be derived here.

Firstly, startups can now be better aware of the type of talent they are attracting. In order to succeed, these startups should aim to market themselves as offering opportunities for professional growth and serving a greater purpose like benefiting the community at large.

There has been the belief that people who join startups are risk-takers; indeed, this study does show some support for that, but the risk-taking propensity is specific to the social domain, and not the financial domain as people sometimes think.

Hence, startups can attract and retain talent by providing them a way of life that is different from what they would have gotten from typical corporate careers.

Secondly, to avoid losing talent to an increasingly competitive labor market, larger organizations and enterprises can also utilise the findings from Pulsifi’s study.

For large corporate organizations who are looking to inculcate the startup culture in their organization, the talent pool to be targeted should not be those with the typical mindset of large organizations; rather, it should be more similar to those of startups.

These organizations will benefit from tailoring their employer branding efforts to this group of talent who are likely to be attracted to such job offerings.

Employers will also need to keep their talent engaged by ensuring that employees have the chance to grow and develop, as well as engage in efforts towards corporate social responsibility to appeal to their altruistic tendencies.

Oct 17, 2019

High-potential talent are every organization’s best asset. Chances are, this would be the pipeline for your succession planning, as high-potential tend to get selected as the future leaders of your organization.

Therefore, in order to achieve your long term business goals, your best bet is to enable and empower this group of talent.

However, while management is busy concocting strategies and policies to engage their overall talent, many tend to forget the needs of high-potential talent in particular, which may need a little more attention.

Here are some ways to engage your best-performing talent:

1. Expose them to new responsibilities

The best talents are naturally self-driven – they gladly take the lead on projects and initiatives.

Enhance this by exposing your talent to new responsibilities that will expand their knowledge and skills. By undertaking projects and initiatives, your best talent can further hone their abilities to solve problems and be innovative in producing solutions. This is also a good opportunity for them to learn about accountability and leadership, which will be beneficial for future roles and succession planning.

Always ensure that these opportunities are provided with the right level of support, resources and tools, to ensure that they can grow and be empowered, and not set themselves up for failure.

 

2. Create opportunities for advancement

One of the catalysts of employee turnover is the perceived lack of career advancement. If your high potential employees are not promoted over a period of time, they will gradually become disengaged as they perceive that their efforts are not appreciated.

Create clear opportunities for advancement for them. Provide role clarity and career path information, and work with them in translating their career goals to daily work. Career opportunities could be in the form of job rotation, tailored training and/or mentoring programs.

Emphasize internal mobility and encourage the pursuit of continuous professional development, so that your top talents see a bright future at your organization, thus giving them reasons to stay and be motivated and fulfilled. This will also help with your succession planning as you will have a larger pool of next generation leaders.

 

3. Provide and seek feedback regularly

The old saying ‘no news is good news’ is outdated. The current generation of employees want feedback – positive and negative – on an ongoing basis, not just during the official annual evaluation.

Build a feedback-rich environment and establish regular one-on-one time with your best talents, so that performance assessment becomes an ongoing process of learning and improvement.

Top talent are often a useful source of feedback themselves as you check on the pulse of the company. Be open to feedback and take in the suggestions that come your way.

Promote this culture of communication, and your high-potential employees will be able to see how their work contribute to the overall company’s business strategy and success. They will have a greater sense of purpose at work, thus feeling more motivated and engaged.

 

4. Develop with purpose

Top talent pick up skills quicker than your average Joe and are more enthusiastic about expanding their knowledge base.

Identify their potential for success through strengths, weaknesses, and areas of interests (Find out how Pulsifi can help with this). Put together a tailored plan – such as workshops, e-learning, exposure to other projects, and mentorship programmes – to develop these areas so that they can contribute back to the organization.

 

5. Reward even during lean times

Excellent work deserves reward and recognition, therefore you cannot avoid rewarding and recognizing your best talents – even during lean times. If it happens for one or two years, they may understand, but if it goes on far too long, they will leave for other organizations.

Although it is financially-challenging during tough times, your top performers need to know that they are a valuable member of your company. It might be easier to let go bad employees than to lose a good talent.

Thus, it is recommended to reward and recognize them especially during lean times. By doing so, you are setting an example that extraordinary work and performance are recognized and compensated accordingly.

 

6. Enable and encourage flexibility

Everything is much more dynamic and fast-paced these days. Therefore, what matters is the speed and ease with which employees can access data and technology required to do their work.

As today’s workforce sees technology as a growing part of their future job success and satisfaction, it is imperative to invest and utilize efficient software and modern technology, and to remove bureaucratic restrictions and unnecessarily strict rules.

If a top performer finds that the work environment decreases their productivity or provides no flexibility (working remotely or flexi hours), they might look for another organization which gives them what they need.

 

7. Positive corporate culture

Company culture and high turnover rates are closely connected. The best talents will not want to be part of an organization for long where the work environment does not value appreciation, team work, collaboration and work-life balance.

It is also proven that a positive corporate culture plays a vital role in overall business performance. According to the Aon 2018 Global Employee Engagement Trends Report, a 5-point improvement in employee engagement brings about a 3% increase in revenues.

To be seen as an employer of choice, you must create a positive corporate culture which delivers a fulfilling work experience that aligns personal and corporate goals. Top talents in particular, like to feel that they contribute to the bigger picture, and that is how engagement is driven.

High employee engagement, in turn, boosts work productivity and overall revenue growth.

Sep 12, 2019

The existence of bias in the human mind is an evolutionary trait, one that was born out of the need to survive.

Back when mankind lived in tribes, picking the wrong people to trust could have very well been fatal. Thus, our minds have adapted to make snap judgements about others, marking them either as trustworthy or threat.

Today, while we may not have the threat of death looming around every decision we make, these snap judgements still live in us unconsciously.

We may think that we make important decisions based on logical facts and arguments. However, science has proven that we are affected by unconscious bias which clouds our judgements. And this happens in hiring decisions too.

Unconscious bias can influence hiring decisions – positively or negatively – even among the brightest and most capable leaders. Implicit opinions get formed about a candidate based on preconceived beliefs, first impressions, similarities in background or hobbies. Decisions are then made based on these opinions.

At best, unconscious bias could still land you the best talent. Conversely, it could lead you to hire the wrong person resulting in early employee turnover, poor cultivation of culture, thus costing the company lots of money.

At worst, personal bias could lead to discrimination charges.

Here are five unconscious biases that affect hiring decisions on a daily basis.

 

Similarity Attraction Bias

Similarity attraction is the tendency of people to seek out others who are just like them. This unconscious bias also happens at the workplace. Employers are inclined to hire candidates who share similarities with them in terms of background, life experiences or common interests. Perhaps they graduated from the same university, play the same sports or express the same mannerisms – all of which does not usually correlate with on-the-job performance.

This type of bias tends to result in an echo chamber effect and impedes diversity at the workplace, which research shows is important for innovation and market growth.

 

Halo or Horn Effect

The halo effect is typically about first impressions. You might like the candidate because he or she is good at doing task A, thus implicitly assume the same for different sets of tasks. But that could potentially lead you to overestimate the candidate’s skills and abilities.

The opposite of the halo effect is the horn effect whereby a perception of an unfavorable characteristic distorts your views of that person. That person could be loud or had said something during the interview which annoyed you, and you immediately see them in a negative light.

 

Effective Heuristic Bias

Effective heuristic bias involves decisions that are influenced by the emotions of the person experiencing at that moment.

In the hiring process, if the recruiter has a negative perception about an overweight candidate or someone with visible tattoos, for example, it might lead to an underestimation of the candidate’s possible qualities such as personality traits, relevant work experience and skills. By doing so, you may be overlooking a high potential talent for your organization.

 

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is favoring information that confirms your preconceived beliefs about the person. For example, when an interviewer has made an implicit judgement about the candidate, therefore asking irrelevant and/or leading questions during the interview to confirm those beliefs.

Some of the best talents could have been dismissed as less competent than others as a result of other pertinent information about them being ignored.

 

Expectation Anchor Bias

Expectation anchor bias is when a particular candidate is highly favored over others during the pre-screening process to the extent that background checks are overlooked and hiring decision is made to favor that person. Expectations for that candidate are already “anchored”, leading the interviewer to perceive others as less competent – which may not be true.

Such bias could also play out when the recruiter assumes that only an exact likeness of the predecessor can do the job properly. Such unrealistic expectations immediately exclude potential talents who could do just as well – if not, much better – than the predecessor.

 

Acting against bias

It might be impossible to eliminate hiring biases entirely but there are steps that can be taken to mitigate its effects, such as:

  • Awareness – Turn unconscious biases into conscious ones by educating yourself and your team about the different types of hiring biases.
  • Standardized questions – Implement standard interview questions, to avoid diverting to other topics that could affect judgement.
  • Skills-based interviews – Create structured systems that require hiring decisions to be based on facts related to the candidate’s skills.
  • Leverage technology – Use a hiring software like Pulsifi that employs data to generate insights about a candidate’s behavior and performance, thus removing subjectivity and guesswork from your hiring decisions.
Jul 18, 2019

Job interviews are not a modern invention; they date back to the early 1900s. In fact, it is said that one of the most popular (and perhaps peculiar) job interviews in the early days, was conducted by the lightbulb inventor, Thomas Edison.

Whenever Edison was looking to add someone new to his team, he would get hundreds of interested applicants – but not all possessed the wit he was looking for.

To weed those applicants out, he would call them in and ask them to answer a series of general knowledge questions and even make them drink soup to observe if the applicants would add pepper or salt to the soup even before tasting it. This was a means to gauge if applicants made assumptions in general, and thus those who did add the condiments before tasting it were immediately rejected.

Fast forward to today, job interviews have now become a standard procedure for most if not all organizations. However, instead of getting candidates to drink soup, employers often look out for the kind of body language that the candidate emits. This is due to the notion that body language gives away information about a candidate’s ability on the job, and that should be considered as part of the job application process.

The importance of examining body language, also known as non-verbal cues, is possibly the reason for the prevailing preference for face-to-face interactions today. Even among virtual communication tools, those that enable video and/or audio transmissions seem to be more effective than those that offer pure text.

 

Reading non-verbal cues

But what can non-verbal cues predict in a potential candidate?

  • A friendly twinkle in the eyes – May indicate friendliness and warmth.
  • A smile without wrinkles at the outer corner of the eyes – Could indicate a fake smile.
  • A person whose head is hung down low – May be less confident than another whose head and eyes are kept straight.
  • Straightened shoulders – Could suggest determination and pride.
  • Fidgeting hands – May signal anxiety or boredom.
  • Crossed arms – May signal anger or arrogance.
  • Shifting legs – Could be a result of restlessness.

It is widely believed that communication is made up of 7% actual words spoken, 38% tone of voice and 55% body language.

This means people generally feel that communication is mostly non-verbal. It is typically assumed that non-verbal cues are unconscious and reflective of “inner feelings”, unlike verbal speech. Hence, people sometimes put greater emphasis on non-verbal communication than verbal communication, especially if the two are incongruent.

Imagine this: a candidate says that he is a very confident individual but his hands are shaking throughout the entire interview. This incongruence between the nervous body language of the candidate and the speech could make the candidate speech seem less credible.

 

When body language may fail

However, caution should be practised when interpreting and relying purely on non-verbal cues due to its subjective nature.

Here are some things to consider:

  • A person with crossed arms – Could the candidate be arrogant? Or is the person just feeling cold or unwell?
  • A smile without wrinkles at the outer corner of the eyes – Could the candidate be faking a smile? Or is this person just very nervous?
  • A little sag in the shoulders – Could that signal a general lack of determination? Or could it be a result of tiredness that day?

The validity and usefulness of non-verbal cues should also depend on the context. Most non-verbal cues are a result of emotions, which are fleeting in nature, which means they are not generalizable over the long-run across various situations and contexts.

So, a person who displays signs of anxiety like fidgeting during a job interview may not necessarily be an anxious person in general. Another person who has that little sag on the shoulders that signal tiredness on a particular work day may not have that body posture on all work days.

If someone is faking a smile at that particular moment, that does not imply that he/she tends to fake smiles all the time. In other words, non-verbal cues are helpful for predicting people’s feelings and attitudes at a particular point in time, but not in general.

This also suggests that non-verbal cues are not ideal for predicting people’s personality, which is enduring and does not change easily.

 

How to better assess candidates

Even if there is some value to examining a candidate’s non-verbal cues, these should not be the only element surrounding the decision to hire. To understand a person in general, it is important to gather multiple pieces of information about the person.

Apart from looking at the candidate’s skills and qualifications on the CV, it is important to also know what kind of personality strengths the candidate has, what kind of interests the candidate has in different types of work activities (e.g., preference to work with tools or with people) and what kind of culture the candidate would prefer to work in..

All these data points about a particular candidate can be obtained from multiple sources, including CVs, video interviews and personality assessments that have been scientifically validated in the field of organizational psychology for decades.

 

Using predictive technology in hiring

The good news is that collecting all this information can be done quickly and accurately using modern technology, which Pulsifi leverages on.

On top of efficient and effective data collection, Pulsifi adds value by using AI and data science to piece these various pieces of information about a candidate together and make sense of them simultaneously.

More importantly, with such a multi-dimensional view of candidates, AI enables the prediction of their work attitudes and outcomes. Does this person work well with a team? Is he/she proactive in solving difficult problems? These traits are generally difficult to infer from either the resume or job interview.

Pulsifi’s AI gathers information about candidates’ hard skills and soft traits to predict these outcomes. Information about candidates are obtained from multiple sources, including CVs, personality assessments and video interviews, and these predict a person’s suitability to the job.

However, it is not just about analyzing and understanding a candidate. Different organizations and different roles have different requirements for success. Using tools like Pulsifi can assist you to look internally and analyze employees, which in turn helps you to account for such variations when making predictions and recommendations in hiring.

Jun 21, 2019

Snagging the right talent to fill a role in an organization is one of the top challenges Malaysian and Singaporean employers face today.

The big question is: What makes a person ‘right’ for a role?

The answer to this question has been an ever-changing one. Once upon a time, employers may have chosen to look at the university that the candidate graduated from, or their CGPA score. Today however, employers are shifting their focus from hard skills to “softer” attributes such as personality, values, interests and abilities.

While the type of traits that employers look for in their people vary from organization to organization, there have been some recurring themes across these companies.

According to data pulled from Pulsifi, here are some traits that Malaysian and Singaporean employers looked for in the past year:

Moderate to high “Openness to Experience”

Openness to Experience is of the component traits of the Big 5 personality inventory, a tool commonly used by organizational psychologists today. The trait is characterized by having a broad interest range, a sense of adventure and a knack for abstract thinking.

According to employers using Pulsifi, this is one of the more important traits they look for in their people, and for good reason at that. People who are high in Openness are more adaptable to change, able to work with new ideas better, and respond well to diversity in the workplace.

Employers want people who are receptive to diverse ideas and perspectives as they are helpful in the workplace when participating in work activities and dealing with colleagues of different characteristics. This, in turn, will then promote a healthy organizational culture.

 

A cultural fit with the organization

Most organizations have their defined set of values (eg. integrity, respect, etc.) as well as ways of working which make up their culture. Being able to fit into a company’s culture and social system is important for employees to feel comfortable, and be the best version of themselves, as this reflects greatly in the quality of work produced.

Therefore, employers may use tools to guide their selection of candidates to ensure a good cultural fit.

 

Ability to reason verbally, logically, and numerically

As industries evolve at such a rapid pace, cognitive ability – the ability to reason verbally, logically, and numerically – is also a trait that is looked at by employers, as it points to outcomes such as critical thinking ability and learning agility.

However, assessing these abilities aren’t as straightforward as the other traits, as they cannot be accurately determined using psychometric tests and interviews.

This is where cognitive ability tests serve as a helpful gauge of these abilities, which can be further supplemented using extensive tools such as assessment centres and case interviews.

 

Communication effectiveness

When people of different skills and experiences come together, there is oftentimes when teams have to deal with miscommunication and information overload.

Thus comes the importance of being able to comprehend, interpret, and convey the necessary information succinctly to achieve efficiency at the workplace.

 

Teamwork

No great work is ever achieved alone. In a knowledge economy such as the one we are in today, organizations need to inculcate an increasingly social environment to enable the sharing of valuable information and skills.

Organizations therefore look for individuals who are able to collaborate effectively with others, and perform well in a team setting.

 

Leadership traits

As you would have guessed, leadership is constantly on the list of traits that are desirable by organizations.

What is interesting here however, is how the definition of leadership by employers has also evolved to include behavioral aspects instead of just looking at past experience.

While traditionally, leaders were formally appointed by the organization based on hard skills and experience, now employers recognize effective leadership as one that is more informally conferred by peers and colleagues in the organization, as a result of common respect and admiration. This then leads employers to seek out other behavioral traits that point to leadership capabilities, such as empathy and teamwork.

 

Measuring soft traits

More importantly, organizations are paying more and more attention to how people’s personality manifests in the workplace in terms of work attitudes and behaviors. But how exactly does one accurately measure the above traits?

Tools like Pulsifi’s predictive AI model combines the use of organizational psychology frameworks, data science, and IT to help employers identify great people and understand their psyche deeply.

Using data retrieved from CVs, psychometric tests and big data, Pulsifi can extract insights into a person’s character and predict their outcomes, which then helps employers to make informed and impactful people-decisions such as how to hire talent, manage teams, and devise training plans. Want to know more?

Drop us a line, or connect with us on LinkedIn to find out how Pulsifi can partner with your organization to help you find better-matched talent, and manage them effectively.

Jan 24, 2019