If we see someone struggling to cross a road, for example, most of us are falling over ourselves to help. However many of us lack this sense of empathy in our working lives, and I would argue this is particularly true in recruitment. Which got me thinking about how we got here, why it is so damaging for the industry, and how we can start to change it.
How we got into this mindset is quite easy to answer in my view. Imagine stepping back to a time before the internet, before the telephone, and even before the post. Individuals who were seeking work would approach the employer personally. I expect they would take some time to have a conversation that was worlds away from a list of bullet points on a piece of paper. I am guessing of course – but I imagine there are a higher richness and insight to that exchange. Even if the candidate was not the right person for the job, they probably had an opportunity to discuss their abilities, and where they would need training. It would have been a completely humanised experience – where dismissing somebody’s interest based on one small flaw would be unlikely.
We are now at a point where recruiters can be sifting through hundreds of online job applications in a week. That has quite understandably led to a level of fatigue with the process – candidates who have no relevant experience applying for roles. We are left with a Tinder-style situation where unless a candidate fits the spec explicitly, they are quickly and quite mindlessly ‘swiped to the left’. Surely we are missing some of the best candidates, who perhaps don’t tick every box, but would thrive and excel if given the opportunity to interview.
The high volume of candidate applications paired with an increasingly burdensome workload has made many of us lose our empathy. We busily sort candidates into yes and no, black and white, the binary. Anybody that falls into the grey is more often than not swept up in the NO pile. Why? Because it would involve some consideration and time to pick up the phone and discuss suitability with the candidate – to work out if the grey is an opportunity. When we dismiss those candidates in the middle, we are not only doing them a disservice, but we are also letting down our clients. Because of course, we all know how important employee diversity is for well-functioning teams, and organisational innovation.
You might be wondering where the time is going to come from to be ‘empathetic’ – because it will take more physical and emotional effort. It will come from the places where you can spare it when you realise the benefits of changing the way you approach your candidate search. That is of course not a straightforward answer, but I am confident it is one you will have no issue with when you experience the positive impact of Empathic Recruitment℠.
Whether you’re a Recruiter or a Hiring Manager using one, it’s all too common there can be issues in communication or understanding. Sometimes both can feel like one isn’t listening to the other. There’s a variety of factors that can cause this. A good example though is the way agencies pay consultants which can be seen as giving ulterior motives to exaggerate a candidates capabilities. This is an excellent example of how trust can quickly be lost before you’ve even started. More often than not, a recruiter will spend weeks to search, screen and select suitable candidates to fill positions within their clients business.
The expectation to get candidate profiles right can be from a conversation that went along the lines of “I need a Senior Systems Engineer, someone who has, X, Y, Z and I need them to start yesterday. You’ll receive a job description that pops up in your email, and you’re away. This can often be an old job description, with a list of qualities involved in every day working in the position. Many could be picked up very quickly in reality, but it’s something about paper that makes them essential!
Initially, the quicker approach seems to be the better. It’s also where the large and often expensive mistake happens; the unsuitable hire leaving a three-month gap further down the line. Not to mention the time wasted on getting them up to speed with their role.
As a recruiter, you are always left with questions after reading a job description. Why is the position available? Is there room to progress? What plans do the company have and what’s the working environment like? What I’m trying to say is, recruiters, perform better with a more extensive briefing.
Because every role and the environment it’s in is forever changing, the only way to achieve maximum results is to start from scratch. Make a new job description together formed from a consultative conversation with an experienced recruiter. Create a collaborative set of questions to ask based on your newly formed job description. This doesn’t just make the most of every conversation, ensuring well-thought topics are all covered; it also creates a structure cutting out any unintentional bias.
You can speed up this process and screen a considerable number of candidates automatically giving a brief insight into the personality too. Video recruitment allows candidates to create video-based applications answering the set questions made for the role. Both Recruiter and Manager can review each application leaving comments including an overall rating. Candidates can instantly give a first personal impression without having to take time off and travel to interviews too.
Have you ever been in or conducted an interview you knew was a waste of time within the first 5 minutes? Not anymore!
When Employers or Recruiters shortlist applications, they can sometimes be unintentionally biased or unfair. Assumptions made when reading someone’s CV can often be the cause of this. The problem is we can all be unintentionally biased, especially when hiring as it’s a part of human nature.
The less information we have to make decisions, the more of these judgements we’re likely to make. Bias views happen subconsciously most of the time. We’re designed to respond to trends and can be affected by almost anything. This is how ‘stereotypes’ that you find in society are created. Many surveys done say that job seekers consider hiring processes biased for this exact reason. I’ve heard “They said I was over-qualified but they don’t know my situation” too many times.
Video recruitment used properly gives more information and is more transparent. It helps de-bias the opinions made when looking at the paper version of a candidate. It’s also a great way of reminding yourself of candidate’s responses. Video interviews can be replayed to multiple staff members giving you time to analyse along with as many professional opinions as you need. Integrating the team in the process will decrease the chance of any turbulent new hires.
Modern interviews can be unstructured, making candidates more likely to be subject to an unfair process. Candidates can use our automated video application, where they’re asked the same questions in the same order, in the same environment. This creates an equal and accurate experience for everyone. You’re still going to meet these people too. It just gives you more information to decide on who to meet.
We can use algorithms to assess human qualities bypassing assumptions we all fall victim to. The outcome is predicting the right person for each specific position in the business.
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We are all capable of being unconsciously biased in all areas of life. We make this mistake less often with more information we have though. Using technology can provide a more accurate and fair judgment as well as a better experience for candidates – are your hiring practices up to date?