Here’s a look at the way candidates perceive Artificial Intelligence in the recruitment interview stage.
“The future of recruitment hangs in the balance”, says Craig Fisher. Couldn’t agree more. While recruiters find themselves in the AI learning process and try to ease their work with the use of AI, candidates have something to say as well, don’t they? The graphic below is based on a survey where more than 200 job candidates were asked about how comfortable they are interacting with an online robot (chatbot app) to speed up the interview process. Let’s see how comfortable candidates are answering initial questions about the interview process, scheduling interviews and helping with interview preparation, and performing skills assessment.
When it comes to: a) Answering initial questions about the interview process, the results are as follows: 21.17% are extremely comfortable 36.9% fairly comfortable 23.42% uneasy 18.92 extremely uneasy
b) Scheduling interviews and helping with interview preparation, we can see that: 36.94% are fairly comfortable 29.28% extremely comfortable 16.67% are uneasy, 17.57% are extremely uneasy.
c) Performing skills assessment: 35.59% are fairly comfortable 25.23% are extremely comfortable 18.92% are uneasy 20.27% are extremely uneasy.
Because we earlier talked about balance, we can notice from the numbers above, that most candidates seem to be open working with robots at least in this part of the recruitment process: the interview. There is no doubt that we need the human touch in the recruitment processes. Candidates expect it and recruiters are not planning to leave that aside, but there are low-level processes that can be automated and ease every party involved. The future of work will be influenced by Artificial Intelligence and the way we look at it, the way we learn and how quickly we adapt to it, as AI has proven to be in many ways a helping hand.
We present 4 key points about how your organization and recruiters can stand out with candidates:
1. Feedback. Offering constant feedback. Once you have received an application, as a recruiter there is only one thing candidates expect, and sometimes keeps them waiting forever. There are at least two scenarios: When candidates are not a good fit and recruiters forget about their resumes. From thousands of applications on the table or desktop software, the recruiter’s job is to find the perfect match for the position. But what about all the other candidates? Those who don’t make the cut and thus don’t move forward, also deserve an answer. When you’ve already had an interview with a candidate, they will be waiting for an answer. If you tell them that they should hear from you, and to wait for your call or email, but won’t give them a specific date but rather a vague timeframe (i.e. “in the next few weeks”). When nothing happens weeks later and the position might have been filled, the other candidate’s know nothing. They might be in the process for more than the job with your company, so that leaves them with uncertainty, especially when they have hopes! In both situations, the recruiter’s feedback and response are what shows your candidates that you treat them as people, and not as pieces of paper.
We encourage candidates to pay attention to those hiring companies that keep them posted even when they have to give bad news. That is a result of a good culture that focuses on people and the importance of long-term impact within and outside the organization.
2. Being a good listener. It will bring many benefits both to the job seeker and the client. When a recruiter listens to what the other parties have to say, he will understand what their needs are. It is said that good communication starts with listening. Communication is not just about how much we talk and what we say. When a recruiter starts working with a new hiring manager, she must not advise, diagnose, or assume anything before having understood their context, plans, and expectations. Use probing questions, quantify expectations as much as possible, verbalize objectives and ask for confirmation of the same understanding. A good listener will be able to reflect on what is being said and restate the message using the same or very similar words. For instance, this is especially useful to discuss the meaning of terms that might have slightly different definition in a client’s organization (i.e. sourced candidate as in prospective – “we have their resumes and they contain the basic qualifications”, or as in “we have their resumes, they qualify on paper, and we’ve talked to the candidates and they’ve already confirmed interest”). Be ready to invite the hiring manager to speak as much as they can about the position beyond the words of the job description by asking open-ended questions, listening, and asking additional probing questions when needed.
3. Marketing and sales skills. A professional recruiter will always know how to market and promote the services, knowledge, job opportunities and expertise in an effective way so that both clients and candidates are entirely satisfied with the process and outcome. Hence why understanding the key mechanism of marketing and sales is important: match a need with a solution where everyone has something to win. Recruiters must sharpen their selling skills if they hope to have any relevant results. A recruiter will stand out if she manages to develop a partnership with the client rather than just being a simple vendor.
Most recruiters will approach the recruiting process as merely transactional. They are provided with a job requisition, they post the job ad on known job boards, they search the database for matches and so on and so forth. In other words a simple equation with a few variables and a result. Instead of this shallow approach, recruiters can first start by asking one simple question: “what makes an employee successful in the client’s organization?” In other words: what are those traits that helped new hires to be productive, to grow int he role, to be fully committed and engaged? Same goes for vetting candidates. Recruiters should never settle for a resume or vague interview questions and answer. Validate their skills and experience through probing questions, assessments and add the depth of information that hiring managers need for sounds hiring decisions.
This is why whether talking about the client organization or candidates, there’s no one size fits all. Rather, recruiters need to craft their recruiting strategy and approach to candidates in a way that validates and compares both a role’s requirements and candidates’ complex profiles. Give context to each role by emphasizing the story that goes with it, including aspects such as vision, culture, challenges, opportunities, professional and personal development, etc.. Inspire people and bring emotion. That will help candidates you are interacting with, to think about all the facets of the position you are presenting to them, so the can decide whether they are a fit or not.
4. Relationship building. We must not forget that recruiting at its foundation is about being able to connect with others. Recruiters should be natural connectors of people. That is why a recruiter must be active on social media and in real life. They interact with many people and should easily connect with everyone. The easiest way to connect with people is by building trust, which only comes with speaking the truth and being straight forward, and non-confrontational. Don’t oversell your ability to recruit to your clients, and don’t oversell a job to your candidate’s. Keeping that balance helps to develop the right relationship on both ends of an outstanding recruitment process: a consultant for both clients and candidates.
In the end, it comes down to an organization’s not-so-hidden agenda when hiring people: “How do we develop the right recruiting strategy so that both candidates and ourselves win?” At SourceMatch, we take joy and satisfaction in assisting our clients with this process that creates value long term, not just short term!
The dynamic between candidates and hiring managers Hiring someone is just like a dance. In a firm, out of necessity, someone requests a new position to be filled at which point a recruiter steps in and starts the hiring process. A team is formed and the one in need is appointed as the hiring manager, meaning that he is the ultimate decision maker, the one who must give the stamp of approval about who is hired. This is the moment the dance begins. Because the hiring manager is the key member of the recruitment team, the recruitment choreography is structured according to his needs and wants. He is the initiator of the position and he becomes the center point of the employee selection team. The human resources team will cater to his needs with every step of the hiring process.
What hiring managers look at Hiring managers are involved in every aspect of the employment process and they are the visionaries who set the tone (hopefully!) for the ideal candidate profile. It is an art to come up with the ideal candidate’s profile because one needs to know the ins and outs of the job. When a job order is created, the hiring manager gathers all the insight he has on a particular job and conveys that into specific details on not only what the job is like, but also what the ideal candidate would be like. At this moment, the recruiting team opens up for applications process. They select a group of well-suited candidates and give them the chance to show how they would synchronize their own combination of qualities and experience with the job’s requirements. The spotlight is on them and the hiring manager watches them perform with a scrutinizing eye.
First impression. The candidates put forth the best they have The candidates step on the stage. Some are shy and some are bold and usually, all of them are prepared as they know that their future depends on their performance. They showcase their talents on that stage, but little do they know that their performance is watched before they start dancing. You see, the hiring manager is smart and wants to know how the candidate moves in his natural environment, in his day to day life. So, he does a background check. This involves every single digital record he can find from Facebook to public information. He might even ask the receptionist what kind of a first impression the candidate gave. You might find this to be quite sneaky but in the end, it’s the smart move to make. The hiring manager always acts in the best interest of the company.
An in-depth look – interviewing At this point, the candidates made their first move before the hiring manager had the chance to demonstrate who they are and what they can do. And if the way they danced so far screamed “likable” they are validated for the next step in the hiring process: the interview. Up to this point, nonverbal communication was key. But from now on words are gold. At this stage, the candidates move forward with their words. If they master small talk, they are hired. You might be tempted to think that their technical skills are the most important, but, no. You see, they wouldn’t have gotten the chance to perform in front of the hiring manager if they wouldn’t have had the technical skills beforehand. By this point, the focus is on the interaction. The hiring manager wants to see if the candidate would be a fit for the job. By this, we mean that he needs to get the feeling that if he would make the hire, the new employee would not disrupt the job workflow. He will step in and through well-orchestrated questions, he himself will “dance” with the candidate in order to understand the candidate’s skills, attitudes, and perseverance.
The role that intuition plays after an interview Now the stage is empty, but emotions run high. The candidates try to figure out what they did wrong and the hiring manager is left alone with his most trusted friend, his gut instinct. If he makes a good hiring decision, he will be fine with it but he wants to make the best choice so he will sleep on it. The hiring manager uses the knowledge he gathered along his years of working in a certain field and decides based on the way he feels about each candidate. Although his decision will be based on more of an implicit thinking pattern it will be a well-motivated one. He will assign the role to the best candidate from a technical perspective, as well as from the way he performed regarding his interpersonal skills.
Why SourceMatch? Being in the recruiting business for more than twenty years, SourceMatch has an in-depth knowledge of the hiring process. We know every single building block pertaining to recruiting. We can assist with identifying the hiring needs, how to create job descriptions and how to post and promote these jobs. When it comes to screening candidates, SourceMatch has the best compliment ever: clients keep coming back for more. If it’s challenging to find and reach candidates at the right time and place to go through your hiring process, you are not alone! Most companies have difficulty in filling jobs, especially because of the skills gap. SourceMatch has a hiring choreography tailored to your needs. Let’s dance!
Starting with the recruiter, the hiring manager, and any other decision makers in an organization, the greatest challenge in Talent Acquisition is related to people. Specifically, maintaining a clear understanding of why you are hiring and a human approach to the whole organizational brand, market presence efforts, and recruiting process. Not doing that, will lead both organizations and candidates to a mere transactional interaction that a) attracts the wrong candidates and b) gives the organization the wrong idea about the recruiting process’ quality. So how do companies lose grip on what really matters in searching and hiring for talent? 1. Focus on speed and KPIs only – it’s easy to look at numbers and say – we are doing good, but that’s just one side of performance in talent acquisition. A healthy process includes assessing behavioral traits and the candidate’s behavior in certain situations, assessment of skills in terms of real-life examples and situations (and correlated outcomes) when these were acquired or exhibited, and an evaluation of the basic values that are required to have a good cultural fit. Ultimately, the validation of all of these after 3, 6 or 12 months is what improves talent acquisition. You want to check in on how well you have been selecting candidates, and whether your expectations, observations, and predictions have materialized. Things such as dedication, initiative, and cultural adjustment take time to prove. Pay extra attention to how new hires (last 9 months) react to pressure, high risk or failure.
2. Superficial screening based on skills only – while skills are an important part in figuring out whether a candidate is a good fit for the organization, it’s insufficient. A candidate’s personality, resulting behavior, potential, expectations, ambitions and motivators, the capability to add value through different perspectives, etc., are all important. In essence, evaluating a candidate is more than mere math. Of course, it’s very useful to quantify all of the above through various assessments scores and different interviewers, but not at the expense of a complete understanding of who the candidate is and what they can bring to your organization.
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” – Benjamin Franklin
Some new hires might not have a lot to show for in terms of previous quantifiable results and performance. They bring all of their positive attitudes, determination, curiosity, and resilience to the table. When all interview conclusions and assessment scores indicate a high-potential candidate, despite the lack of experience, be straightforward with candidates about your concern. Let them know that you recognize their value, but that results are an essential part of long term success and fit in the organization.
3. The influx of data, easiness of access to dozens of resumes databases, and growth, by any means, are some other causes of poorly structured talent acquisition. Talent acquisition, beyond recruitment, is meant to create a clear representation in the market of who the organization is, and who it’s trying to attract. In other words, the organization’s brand and what a successful candidate looks like. Failing to paint the right picture in both these areas can significantly affect retention and performance.
If that’s the case you might think all companies might be prone to bad hiring decisions. You would be right! Organizations who intentionally pursue excellence in the recruiting process will attract the best talent in the labor market. It’s the only way to stand out in the crowd of poor talent acquisition practices.
It all needs to start with planning the recruitment process end to end.
When an opening is created – understand how it will fit the overall organization, departments or team it’s part of; how it contributes to a company’s or project’s goals; is it meant to be a long term position, and if so what career advancement will it offer; based on past experience with similar positions, there are factors that lead to success or the opposite way – know these before you look for people, etc.
How does the job description describe the requirements, complexity, and opportunity of the position? Do you have a clear description of the organizational environment with advantages as well as limitations (i.e. startup vs corporate)? Include factors you know will help new hires succeed. Some may not find themselves in the Job description, and if you’ve done your homework putting well it together, that’s exactly what you want.
Do you provide candidates reaching the interview stage an even deeper understanding of the company’s vision, mission and goals? Candidates (future employees for some) like to have clarity as to what they’re getting themselves in. Anything else and you are pursuing a transactional approach to recruiting. When you have clarity about the growth objectives of the company and can portray it clearly, candidates won’t have to wonder what’s their role in the “greater scheme of things”
“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.” – Oscar Wilde
Be human about it all – treat people with dignity and respect. Every single time. The more you do it, the more natural it will be. That implies the golden rule doing to others as you would expect others to do toward you. If you expect some kind of feedback after an interview, so do your candidates. Do you care to improve how well you control your emotions and anxiety when interviewing? So do they. Include genuine advice to help them for their next interview. If you are hiring someone while making a concession regarding the requirements, you have to be transparent about it so they know what is it that led to your decision.
Don’t take shortcuts. Shortcuts become huge further in the recruiting process. Anytime your talent acquisition team takes shortcuts, the organization ends up with a mismatch between people, jobs, and growth potential. That can cost your organization up to 2.5 times annual salaries for each poorly made new hire.
There are a few mistakes that keep creeping back again and again when our team talks with candidates.
Not being prepared. Set aside a time and a place for the discussion with the recruiter, in case of a phone interview. Our recruiters had several interviews that were scheduled in advance, and the candidate was not prepared and put us on hold to step out of the office room. Other candidates were in loud spaces, with a lot of background noise that made it hard both for us and for them to hear us properly. That could usually be a deal breaker when interviewing with the client directly, so we suggest being prepared in advance. By giving your undivided attention to the interviewer, you show respect and interest in the opportunity.
Overconfidence. Employers look for candidates who are confident and who do not second guess themselves because that can be counterproductive. Of course, with some roles, employers need candidates who have that cut throat attitude and a higher degree of confidence to be successful. At the same time if a candidate takes that to the point of dismissing the employer or the recruiter it will be a deal breaker for the recruiting process. One of our most recent encounters with this type of candidates was with a specialist that started off the conversation with our recruiter in the following manner: “Hi. Let’s cut to the chase and tell me what’s the pay. Recruiters don’t know anything about this role so I don’t want you to waste my time.” Needless to say, this candidate did not get a chance to schedule a second discussion with our recruiter.
Lack of professionalism. We expect from our team to have a professional approach to candidates, to supply the relevant information and to make sure the candidate has all the resources to be successful. Anything less is not acceptable to us. That is why, when candidates ask our team members personal details, ask them on a date, ask confidential information about the client or the interviewers that is let’s say the least problematic.
Punctuality. Our internal policy is to confirm interviews via Calendar invites, email (with additional info), phone, etc. From time to time we do deal with candidates that simply don’t show up and don’t have an objective reason for that, or candidates who don’t show up but always have an excuse prepared. Another problem we deal with is when candidates don’t send in documents we need or don’t confirm various aspects in a timely manner. This wouldn’t be the case where somebody just has a full week at work and just can’t set time aside for this but candidates who don’t respect the timeline they agreed on.
The last one mentioned but one of the most common mistakes is: applying for and pursuing jobs that are not in their area of expertise. Their resumes look impressive and include every possible key/buzzword and perfect composition! These are candidates full of themselves, and who think they can talk their way through any interview, topic or skill. When you get to talk to them you’ll notice that they are excellent speakers, but terrible when it comes to specific examples and details. Whenever you pursue a specific topic and try to drill down, they’ll come back to a stock/rehearsed answer. We’ve seen this happen most often with contractors, who are under pressure of finding their next gig, which might very well make the difference between the continuation of work and a 3–6 months break.
Our recommendation is that you ask questions – starting with “why”, then “why” and finally “why”. As a recruiter, you are not an expert in the area for which the candidates are being interviewed for, so it’s difficult to go very deep into technicalities. However, the general rule of thumb is that candidates that are good at their trade should be able to articulate in simple terms and with examples/analogies what is it that they do, why they are good at it, and the degree of expertise that they have.
Ignoring or not being aware as a recruiter of this intentional or innocent mistake that candidates make will lead to waste of time on all ends and worst-case scenario to hiring someone who just doesn’t fill the need of the role they’ve been hired. Weak links lead to weak outcomes.