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How to Optimize Your Hiring Process With a 3-Step Approach

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People are your organization’s most valuable asset. Despite knowing this, many organizations lack a standardized and streamlined hiring process to ensure they’re bringing on the best talent. In this webinar, we’ll dive into the three critical components of an efficient and effective hiring process—and tools that can help you get the most out of each stage.

Hear from our expert panelists as they break down what can be a challenging business process into straightforward steps that will result in saved resources, better hires, and stronger performance for your organization.

Watch this webinar to learn:

  • Reliable methods for sourcing engaged, qualified candidates with the right skills and credentials
  • Time-saving strategies to evaluate applicants and assess them for cultural fit and future performance
  • Best practices for targeted interviewing to uncover strength and gap areas and reduce time to select the best match

Susan Manning:

Hi everyone. I'm Susan from Credly and I want to officially welcome you to today's webinar. You're in for a Treat. We have three very special guests who are going to speak to this idea of a three step approach to optimizing your hiring process. A couple things that you've probably already noticed. We are recording this, which means you'll have access to the recording after the fact. Also we encourage you to use the chat function to ask questions. You can also use the Q&A area. Either way we will be aggregating those questions and having a discussion after the initial portion of this webinar. That discussion is going to be as lively as you make it. So when you put your questions in there, we'll be able to feed them to the appropriate speaker and really unpack these ideas. So with that, I want to begin to introduce you to our three speakers today.

Our first is Bailey Showalter from Credly. And Bailey is going to lead us off with the idea of how we source talent. Then we will move on to how we evaluate talent. And that is coming from Whitney Martin who is with ProActive Consulting. And then we round out the experience with Helen James from Pearson. And Helen is going to be talking about the interviewing process. I think you'll find it very interesting how these three women are able to blend these ideas together and yet give you unique perspectives. So just to level set, we are here to talk about this big question of how we get our talent. When you look at the HR technology spending plans over the next few years and you break it into the concerns for small, medium and large organizations, you can see that how you recruit talent is at the top of the concern list.

And of course, it's expensive to replace talent. So if somebody leaves, we know that it costs about 30% of their yearly wages to get the new hire in place. The labor market, at least here in the US is up and down and erratic, and it's hard to make sense of the data that we hear on the news or the data that we're getting through our own personal research. And hiring is not a fast process. It takes a long time to find the right person and get them in a role that's right for them. That's part of why we're focused on this topic today. And as I said, we're going to be looking at this as a three part process from sourcing talent to evaluating what they bring to the organization and then interviewing them to make sure that the fit is right. So with that, I am going to lead this off and introduce Bailey who is going to address the sourcing aspect. Bailey, welcome.

Bailey Showalter:

Thank you, Susan. We'll start off with sourcing. And at it's very simplest, candidate sourcing is not intended to get you to a hiring decision. It's intended to find the right people to interview so that you can make a really great hire at the end of it. But it's to help you find great talent to interview, for them to get to know you as a company and for you to get to know them as a potential employee. And to do all of that we'll want to get you through that in a time efficient manner. But really just finding the right people to bring into that process. It is simple. It is not easy, but it is simple. When we get started and we think about sourcing as a strategy and the need for a strategy, it is really overwhelming to get started.

There are a lot of different ways that sourcing is supported in organizations. Some will have full service recruitment sourcing strategy teams that you can rely on where this will really sit with them. Some outsource a lot of this to third parties, but most often what I see is this becomes the responsibility of either the hiring manager or a recruiting team who's already stretched pretty thin and has a lot on their plate. And it's time consuming. It's a difficult process or it can be. When we start thinking about where even to source, there are hundreds if not thousands of options. Some of them your company may already have subscriptions to and you'll need to track those down, but that there may not be any of those in place yet. So you'd want to look at free sites, you'd want to look at which paid services may best benefit you. So there's some upfront research to do.

And then you have to think about which parameters actually matter in terms of figuring out the right people to reach out to, to bring into the interview process. A lot of times we look at previous work successes or companies they've worked for, education degrees, boot camps, certifications, any upskilling throughout their career. But there are many, many parameters that could be relevant and it's important to figure out which ones matter for you. And then next slide, Susan. This is what I would consider the baseline rule of 10. It does not have to stay this way, but a lot of times when when we're getting started in sourcing, when we're refining our strategies, it roughly works at this kind of 10 rule of 10, searching through about a thousand profiles to find a hundred people to contact. About 10 of those will respond.

A 10% response rate is pretty normal. And then moving those forward into the interview process ultimately to make a hire. For folks who are already strapped for time, that this is not their full-time job, this is a really overwhelming and daunting place to begin. We want to go through some ways to make it a little less daunting and give you some really practical tips to improve your success and get that rule of 10 working more in your favor, starting to improve those ratios. The first place I would start is to really be very thoughtful about the commonalities that your most successful employees actually have today. A lot of times our default when we're starting to source is to look very literally at the job title that we're hiring for in the location we're hiring and starting there.

And that will yield thousands of responses, most of which won't be exactly relevant. They'll have different skills that they've developed based off of different experiences, and we may be excluding people who have the right skills, but have a different job title today. It's getting really clear about the actual underlying skills that will drive success today for that role. And then figuring out ways to search for those through skills-based hiring practices. You'll know those better than I would today, sitting as removed as I am from your process. But it could be looking at certifications and how those are represented by skills. It could be looking at specific types of projects they worked on or areas of industry expertise that typically drive those. This actually when you start to focus on the skills first lens rather than the job title and current company lens, you also reduce the competition that you're facing when you're sourcing.

Your competitors very often are using those same strategies of looking at job title, current company, location. And so you're all fishing from the same pond. But when you take a step back and you look at the skills and different ways that someone could be successful who may have a less traditional job title, work at a different company than you've hired from before, you start to expand your pool and you're reaching out to people who aren't inundated all the time by the same people over and over and over again. You stand out more. That alone can help increase your success. Plus if they already have the skills needed to hit the ground running, they can start contributing from day one rather than having to upskill them or giving them all the context that you may otherwise need to.

The next step is figuring out which sourcing tool or service will best serve your needs. When you're sourcing, there are going to be a lot of different things that matter, and usually it's some combination of finding a unicorn. So finding a really great combination of skills. Reducing cost. You don't want to spend a ton of money if you don't have to and doing it in a time efficient manner, but one of those is going to matter more when you're starting this process. And so figuring out which is your most important criteria and then finding tools that serve that well will benefit you. If it's reducing cost, sometimes lower cost or free resume databases may be a good place to start, but they're going to be more time consuming. If it's speed to fill, you may want to look at another service or if it's finding a unicorn, you're going to want to look at really deep networks of people that have a very specific type of expertise.

You're going to want to tailor that tool or maybe a service in order for you to find your best chance there. And then finally, I'm going to say flip the hat you're wearing. And then on the next slide we are going to think about this from the perspective of the candidate. Personalization reigns supreme with sourcing and just sending a whole bunch of messages from a template because it's more time efficient for you, tends to reduce your response rate. But when you think about it from the perspective of the person receiving that message or how you like to be contacted, really being made to feel special and have that message feel relevant is going to matter a lot. They're going to want to see that you meant to reach out to them specifically that this role is relevant to their career in some way, shape, or form. Ideally it might represent a step forward even, but that it is relevant to the roles that they have been in recently, not things from years and years and years ago.

And then I would highly encourage you to highlight why that candidate stood out to you as a recruiter or a hiring manager. That little personal touch, even if it's just one extra sentence, can go a long way in making the candidate feel like this was specific that they're really catered to and that they want to talk to you and learn more about the opportunity. Undergoing an interview process and potentially changing jobs can be overwhelming. And you want to come across with your best foot forward from the very beginning. And then once you have them in the interview or once you've made contact with them and you're setting them up for interviews, we'll want to think about how to evaluate them. So for that I will turn it over to Whitney.

Whitney Martin:

Great. That just is a perfect lead in to what I want to talk about, because you're only going to be as successful selecting the right people as that initial pool that you narrowed it down to. Hopefully at this point we now have a group of people who have the best chance at being successful for us as opposed to all the ones we weeded out so far. And maybe we weeded them down or screened them into this funnel to this point based on some combination of their education, their experience, their skills, their knowledge, maybe even some traits that you were able to assess. But would they all likely perform equally well at this point, if you were to go ahead and just hire any one, let's say those 10 that you narrowed it down to? If the answer is yes, then job is done. You can just hire any one of them and move forward.

But most likely the answer is no. We still have some fine tuning we need to do. We've still got some other traits and abilities that we want to better understand about these candidates that we've narrowed it down to for interview. A lot of times companies will bring me in to help them answer this question, of all the things we can screen for in candidates, which are going to be the most important, the most predictive, and truly differentiate those who would be adequate in the job versus those who would excel? I'll come into organizations and I'll start by analyzing a few key things on the next slide, Susan. I'll take a look at first those key job descriptions. And I'll look through those job descriptions and try to pick out what are the traits and attributes and abilities that we are saying we need in candidates to be successful in this position.

Then I'll look at performance appraisals and see what are we actually holding people accountable to. And low and behold, I will start to find some different traits and attributes that seem really important. Then I'll look at the company's mission, vision, and values and say, okay, what is it that we need people to be in order to be a successful fit to our culture beyond just the job? And then sometimes I'll talk to key hiring managers or other leaders in the company and start to ask some questions about what does it take to be successful? When somebody isn't successful what is the cause? And yet again, you start to hear some different words come up than you've even heard before. And so what'll end up happening is I'll synthesize all that information down and I'll end up with a list that looks something like this. Good grief guys.

This isn't even the one off stuff that people brought up. This is the consistently mentioned things that organizations are truly looking for in their candidates. And let me ask you, is it reasonable to think that we could accurately gauge this number of things in an interview? Probably not, right? Is it likely that some managers focus more heavily on some of these things than others creating inconsistency with what we're actually selecting for in the organization? And is it likely that all managers have some consistent, reliable, fair, accurate way of measuring the list of things on the screen? No. Right? In fact, when we start to think about this, it's kind of a wonder we ever get it right. It's just a lot of variables that go into selecting the right person.

And so it's really critical that we are much more intentional about identifying those key traits and attributes that are truly going to differentiate performance and then create a consistent effective system for measuring those. And that's where hiring assessments can play a really invaluable role. What we have to do on the next slide here is, in order to find what we want to measure, we have to begin with the end in mind. In order to know what we need to measure in candidates to hire better, we need to say, what does hiring better mean? What would the outcomes be if we were hiring better? If you don't know where you're going, any road's going to get you there. So we got to figure out what does the end of that road look like so we can back up and figure out what to measure.

On the next slide I'll give you a chance to think about that. I want you to think about for your organization, what would hiring better mean? I want you to think about the outcomes. What would we have more of or less of or better of if we were hiring better? I want you to take just a post-it note on your desk and jot down a couple words. What will we have more of or less of or better of if we were hiring better? I will go ahead and talk about some of the common answers I hear that may resonate with you, but you may have a very different list. One of the first things usually that people say is, we would have less turnover. And I'll say, okay, good start, but let's talk about this a little more. What kind of turnover are you wanting to reduce? Is it turnover happening in the first 90 days, because maybe people point out on your attendance system or you get no call, no show, or you have people violating policy within that first 90 days?

Or maybe you have turnover happening after three years when you get people who just aren't showing the potential to continue to grow in the organization. And as you can imagine, what you would need to measure in candidates to predict those two outcomes would vary drastically. We can easily put a dent in 90 day turnover by measuring things like reliability and integrity and rule following. Whereas if we want to put a dent in that three year turnover, we need to better understand long term potential of these applicants. Another example that you might have is if we were hiring better, we would have more engagement, or maybe we would have more innovation in the organization, or maybe fewer quality errors, less rework, less parts being sent back, or fewer safety incidents. And that list can go on and on and on and on. And I'm sure hopefully you come up with a few things that would indicate for your specific organization what hiring better meant for you.

Because let me tell you this and be very, very clear. If you cannot answer this question, hire anybody that walks through the door. It doesn't matter. Because if you don't know what you are trying to achieve, your hiring system will never work, because you haven't defined what working looks like. And not only do you need to be able to answer this question of what is hiring better look for us? What are those outcomes we're trying to drive in the organization? But your HR staff and your recruiters and your hiring managers better all be giving the same answer. There needs to be alignment of vision throughout the organization of what you're really selecting for and what are the metrics and outcomes that tell us if we're doing it. So again, that I cannot state strongly enough how important this vision is, so that you have a system that is streamlined and united in trying to achieve those goals. Once we've defined the goal, we can find some tools that would actually help us measure these things. And again, that clarity of vision is going to be foundational. I'll give you an example. I was contacted last week by a small police force in North Carolina, and as you can imagine, law enforcement, they're already doing a lot of screening, there's a lot of stuff that they have in place in terms of psychological stuff and background stuff and all sorts of methods that they use to try to get the best people. But any of us who watch the news know that this is a really important role and there's certain traits and attributes that they felt like they were still missing. They would say, we get people in an interview who tell us, they're going to be this, this, and this, but we're still missing it a few times.

And so when we started to really dive into what are those critical traits and attributes that truly differentiate the excellent law enforcement offer officers from maybe ones that maybe there aren't a nightmare but maybe aren't great. A couple things really came to the surface. One is they felt like they needed people who were truly proactive, who took initiative, who were really driven. They weren't just sitting around doing the minimum, waiting to be told what to do. That was one thing they felt was really important. Next was that honesty and integrity piece, which makes perfect sense. And then last was they really felt like they needed people who could be informal leaders. It's a small department, they need to lead within the community, they need to lead within that police force, even if they're an entry level type of officer. What I often do for companies is help them answer this question of, what do we want to measure?

And then I'll go out and look at all the thousands of assessment products available in the marketplace to help them narrow it down and say, okay, what overlays nicely with what we're trying to achieve? And in this particular case, Pearson has a tool called the Work Style Lens assessment. And when I went to look at that one and overlay it with what this police department needs, I noticed that the very first scale that we measure with the Pearson Work Style Lens assessment is leadership orientation. So is this person going to be assertive, take charge, persuade, inspire? And I'm like, okay, that's one box checked. I also notice that there's both a dependability and a rule following scale, which would fit in with that integrity piece well. And then there's also a couple scales that measure achievement and effort and persistence and initiative. So that first box.

I was like, okay, we got some good box checking going on. And then again, there were a few other scales that maybe I didn't specifically talk about with this police force, but certainly we can imagine that they would be important for a police officer. There's a scale about concern for others, self control, stress tolerance, analytical thinking. Can we think of any more traits that would be more important for police officers? When I meet with them tomorrow and present this as an option, I think they're going to be pretty excited that this is a really nice representation of the kinds of things they know they need to measure to ensure they are getting the best police officers. Now, if that initial list had been very different, then there might be a different tool that I would recommend. And I think this is a really important piece of information, is don't put the cart before the horse. Don't find a tool and try to cram it into your selection process.

Figure out first in a very intentional, systematic way, what you want to measure, and then find tools that work really well with that. Obviously you're going to want to look at the test development, the reliability, validity, et cetera, and any logistical considerations. You can have the best, most well researched tool out there, but if it's too expensive or takes too long or doesn't integrate with your ATS or isn't available in the languages you need, it's not going to work. There's obviously these pragmatic considerations as well. And then lastly is candidate experience. You might assume that candidates would have a negative reaction to completing an assessment, but the contrary is absolutely true. Candidates would much prefer to think they're being judged on something that is job relevant than what they were to the interview or whether they sent you a handwritten thank you note. So having those objective criteria in place can actually create an extremely positive candidate experience.

To sum up, I want to recap the pros and cons of using hiring assessments in your process. The first knee jerk reaction I get from companies sometimes is, well, we're worried if we put an assessment tool in place we might be introducing some bias or adverse impact. Guys, bias can enter this process in every step of the way. From where you're sourcing your candidates to whether or not you have artificial intelligence algorithms using term matching services, to how you screen the resumes, do you automatically weed somebody out if there's a typo or not the right margins, or you see a certain word on there, right? Then what knockout questions you're using. And then you're going to bring them in for interviews. And I'm really hoping Helen's going to give us some great suggestions on how to mitigate implicit bias in interviews.

But certainly that is the place most fraught with the chance for bias. Honestly, bringing in objective assessment in, that really levels the playing field, that has people being judged on consistent criteria, is probably one of the most objective, least biased criteria you could introduce. Next of course there's going to be a time and a cost associated with administering an assessment. It's usually a drop in the bucket compared to hiring the wrong person. And in fact, you can streamline your process and actually legitimately save money on the process itself, much less save money on hiring better people. And then last was that candidate experience and we talked about, and as long as our communication is on point about why we're using tools, it can actually create a very positive experience where the candidates feel like you are valuing them for the individuality and the uniqueness they're bringing to your organization, which is really important.

All of these perils are very surmountable. Not only do we need to infuse additional objective data into our process to mitigate bias and to validate the things that our brains are telling us about these candidates, but there's a business imperative, a push for more metrics, more analytics, more data driven decisions around our people. Last but not least, they can certainly help inform the interview, which we will ask Helen to tell us about now.

Helen James:

Thank you, Whitney. And also thank you Bailey as well. I think to talk about best practice interviewing, we need to make sure that we have sourced and we've assessed candidates properly, because my number one point here is the candidate experience. We need to keep that front and center in terms of using that lens, because the market at the moment is just so crazy out there that we need to make sure that we put ourselves in the shoes of the candidate when we're looking at interviewing. We need to make sure that the expectation setting is crystal clear with all of our candidates as well as our hiring managers actually. And the candidates expectations at the moment are probably as high as they've ever been. We've come out of the pandemic, we've got this uncertain economic climate that we're all going through.

We've got this huge global pool to go and search for talent that we probably didn't have a few years ago, and we probably got candidates coming to us with a couple of offers on the table as well. The expectation setting from that very first point is really, really important. We need to look at ourselves as brand ambassadors. Whenever we have a touch point with the candidate, they will make that then start to make those decisions in terms of is this the company I actually want to take my next step or my first step or my little step in terms of career? And also we need to stand out. It's really important regardless of the end result, whether is it positive after the interview or whether they just haven't quite made it, we need to be a standout organization. And that's whether it's a small 10 man organization or a Fortune 100, how can we stand out during that interview process? Thanks Susan. It's really important that we have, whether it is a face-to-face interview or whether it's the virtual interview, the world's obviously changed, and those intentions are the same. We need to make sure that we have a virtual window. I can't stress enough this brand ambassador bit. We are the brand ambassadors through our laptop. Making sure that when we show up as interviewers, we're energetic, we're upbeat, we're positive, we don't just make it another Zoom call or another Team chat, we build rapport very quickly. We acknowledge personal personalization. And by that I mean the art behind, the plant behind, the pictures there, the books on the wall. I think since the pandemic, everybody's been able to have a look into our own home offices. So that personalization is as I keep saying, is also very important.

First impressions are key regardless. Make sure that you remove any distractions, you turn off your notifications. I can't bear it when people are reading something and they should be looking at me or answering the question. We've got a candidate in front of us, they've given us their time, we need to give them the time that they deserve as well. So turn your notifications, and please this is really important, turn your camera off. And yes, there have been interviews that I've heard about where people haven't turned their camera on, that's candidates as well as hiring managers as well. What sort of impression does that leave? Probably a very quick one unfortunately.

If we look at the interview, make sure that we've read the CV. It sounds very obvious, but we probably dashing between meetings and it's like, yeah, yeah, I'll just read it quickly before anybody joins. No, we need to have given the candidate the most important piece of this whole experience, the time that they deserve. To read that CV. Make sure you've highlighted those areas where you want to question, make sure you've actually got and is what you said a very clear set of questions that you're going to ask every candidate in that process to remove any of the biases that you could bring, maybe not necessarily thinking about it to an interview. Make sure that you put the candidates at ease. So as an interviewer, we can help put at ease the candidate. And also in terms of the TA team and the recruiters, they can also help put at ease the hiring manager, because it's not always the case that people who are hiring have that confidence and know how to interview.

So from a recruitment point of view, make sure that you've spent the time with those hiring squads and hiring managers, making sure that they really do understand what it takes to be, well, what it takes to actually conduct a really good interview. Some of those points I've already mentioned. If there is a coaching piece needed, obviously address that. If there is a library of questions needed, make sure that they have access to those, they've done their prep beforehand. Also if the candidate is feeling nervous, try and put them at ease. There's always a different way to ask the same question. And we might have all been in situations, we might have been that candidate who got tongue tied and knew the answer but just couldn't come up with it. So if you are that person in the driving seat of the interview, give them some time or even say, we can come back to that question later.

Trying just to put them at ease, because not everybody is going to show up with, as I said, maybe a couple of offers in their back pocket. It's also giving them the opportunity to ask questions, maybe at the beginning of the interview actually, which will also help them put themselves at ease. Because if they've had a pre-screen or they've been looking on the website or they've been through the sourcing or the assessments, they probably will have questions. I know I personally when I interview somebody, that is my first question, what have you got for me? How can I help you? And once again, you can probably see them relaxing a little bit. And also it helps you understand the amount of preparation they've done for the interview.

Which can also make for a fun interview as well actually. They don't always have to be serious. What else have I got here? I think the consistency and fairness is really important. We have to turn up being prepared, but we don't know what the candidate's day has been. They might have had something just happen to them literally before they opened the call. So making sure that we ask the same questions, we offer that fairness, we offer that consistency, we manage expectations in terms of what's going to happen after the interview, what the time pressures are, making sure that we also ask some housekeeping questions. And by that I mean do you have any other office at the moment? Where are you in your interview process? Because if we need to jump very quickly through hoops, we need to know that, because there are far more roles out there than there are candidates.

We need to make sure that they're going to leave the interview feeling, yeah, great. Okay. I've had a really good experience. It's been very fair. And maybe if I wasn't 100% sure about joining the organization, I'm probably 101% now I really want this job. And for me as well, the point about feedback is a gift is really important regardless of how we get it. It's actually not just during the interview process, it's actually during the whole recruitment process. We need to listen out for all of those points and those key differentiators that the candidate and the hiring manager actually is telling us. We can look at how, and we can use tech as well to help give feedback. We can use tech in terms of collating feedback.

And that's the only way that when we're taking that feedback, we can obviously collate and improve our recruitment process, because we have to make it stand out. A recruitment process is very much end-to-end. But if we can make the candidate feel comfortable that they've been listened to, that we've given them 101% of our attention, regardless of what the interview outcome is, then they will obviously then leave thinking it wasn't my day this time, but hopefully next time it will be. That's what I had to say on interviewing best practice.

Susan Manning:

Thank you. I couldn't find my unmute button here. I am going to facilitate a discussion and I'm inviting those who are listening guests to put questions in the chat or the QA area. I have so many questions that I want to go back to, that it's going to be hard for me not to just ask what I'm curious about. But I'm going to start while our listeners are putting questions in that chat area with something, I'm going to start off with a general question for all three of you. I'm going to start with Bailey though. How do you make sure that there is a consistent understanding of the recruitment process and the nuances throughout an organization so that the people in one department are going to be hiring consistently following a process that another department is going to follow?

Bailey Showalter:

I think it's aligning on the experience that you always want to deliver for a candidate, that needs to be consistent across the entire organization. Everyone needs to be committed to it. And then the process should follow. The process might actually vary depending on the type of hiring you're doing. Some roles you can move through a process really quickly or you have more automated steps or you want to have them the chance to meet with more people than you might on a different hiring process. And that should really be catered to the specific role at hand or to the team or the style that you're hiring for. But the candidate experience should be absolutely something that everyone puts front and center, that really reflects your values as an organization and who you want to show up as in the world.

And so this is, I think Helen, you put it super well, you are a brand through every single step of this. So think of yourselves as such and make sure that your entire process is reflective of that. That it feels efficient, that it feels like the candidate is at the center of this, at the heart of it. I don't know that that was exactly the process answer that you were looking for because that's really an it depends in my opinion, but the experience needs to be super consistent.

Susan Manning:

But let me toss that to Helen who has a lot of experience in this area. Same question. How do you ensure that there is some consistency across an organization?

Helen James:

What I've done and what I'm doing now is that with my team, I make sure that everybody understands what is expected of a recruiter in the role that they do. That's really important. What is expected of our HR partners and what is expected of our hiring squads, our hiring managers. We're fortunate that I have a team where I know that they have got experience of hiring outside of the company, of Pearson, so they can bring in some best practice approaches. So whenever I have a new person join the team, I always ask them the same question. If you see something we're doing internally and you question why, then please ask. Or please say, Helen, why are we doing this? Because that's the only way we are actually going to get better. Making sure that everybody understands what is expected of them in their role, making sure that it's all clearly defined.

And we're very fortunate within Pearson. And we have a hub where we have our shop window within talent acquisition. So we have our process documents, we have FAQs for hiring managers, and we also make sure that when we have new people joining, we actually point them to the hub so they can actually have a very good understanding of what is expected. I pick up on Bailey's point about culture. I also look at our values, but also I listen and we listen to what candidates are saying and we take feedback really important. And that's why I finished with that point of feedback is a gift. We always have to keep listening and we always have to keep iterating. It might just be one small step, it might just be more question we have to change or something that's in the ATS, but we are always trying to push the boundaries and make things better.

It's that consistent messaging, Susan, and making sure that everybody understands what their role is. And as legislation changes, as the economic and political climates change and the socioeconomic pieces change, we need to make sure that we are feeding the relevant pieces into how we can then handle future talent.

Susan Manning:

I'm going to come back to you, Helen, in a minute to ask about group or panel interviews versus individual interviews, but I first want to jump over to Whitney. You said something about measuring the long term potential for an employee. How do you do that?

Whitney Martin:

I think especially relevant right now coming out of COVID, if you look at the world economic forums list of the top traits that are going to be needed moving forward, a lot of it is ability to learn. We've asked everybody to do things differently over the last couple years and that was really complex. So whereas some skills and knowledge tests can measure what you know right now as a point in time, looking at the ability to learn, the ability to problem solve, personality fit initiative, some various aspects, and having that future focus can really help make sure you're getting people who have not just what they need today coming in the door, but also what they're going to need long term.

Susan Manning:

Okay. When it comes to screening, Whitney, I think it was something you mentioned, you get a thousand applicants and maybe you screen out because they use a phrase that you don't care for or you screen them in because they have a certain experience. Who sets that and how?

Whitney Martin:

That's a terrifying question, because I'm afraid that usually those sorts of things are not the company line. A lot of times they're individual preferences. And so that's where I'm always a proponent of making sure that the criteria that we're using to make those screen in, screen out calls are something that actually has data behind it. Because I guarantee that the phrasing thing doesn't have any data to show that somebody would be more or less successful depending on whether they use that or not, and that to me is what is so scary. And so making sure that we are, as Bailey and Helen both said, really creating consistency among our recruiters and hiring managers of what they're supposed to be looking for and what they're not supposed to be looking for, is I think going to create a lot more fairness in the process.

Susan Manning:

Great. Okay. Helen, here comes my question that I had for you, but I'm going to give a little preamble to that. Something you said reminded me of an interview that I experienced when I was approximately 25 or 26 years old. I was called into a group interview face-to-face, and the team that was interviewing me just felt confrontational. You know what, I started to cry. And I don't mean just a little, I mean boohoo crying. Today we don't often have those group experiences face-to-face, they might be done by a Zoom call. But what advice would you give hiring squads to avoid having the candidate feel that way?

Helen James:

Well, I'm sorry that you cried. That's just awful. Susan, did you know you were going into a group interview?

Susan Manning:

I did, yes. I did. At the time I worked in higher education and it was very common in my field to go from group to group to group on campus, strange campus, not my campus. I knew that that was going to happen. Even I couldn't have expected though that I would've broken down and just bawled. By the way, I got an offer from that campus.

Helen James:

Good. Well done. There is a place for a panel group interview. Okay? Some organizations I think if you are in a senior role and they could give you various scenarios and put you in a panel. But I'm not a big fan, actually. I never have been. I think as I said, there is a place and there is an opportunity to find out more about the candidate, not just through the CV, but obviously through the skills and giving them maybe some cracky assessments or if we look at early career hiring, what do you call it when you have to do group interactions? Early careers, group interactions, panel interviews, yes. I worked in a previous organization where for a few years the technical hiring was all done through panels and that's because they'd only ever done it that way and they wouldn't look at changing.

And eventually we did get them to change and we found that the interview process worked very far quicker. We got far better feedback from the candidates and also from hiring managers as well. But it was something that they had just done it that way for two years and they were, I think, probably worried that they wouldn't get this consensus. But actually, do you want consensus? Because you're looking at bringing new hires in, you don't want to have the same people. I can see Whitney smiling. You don't want the same people all the time. Do you? Being brought in. That's why the interview should be fair. You should always make sure that you are told as a candidate it's going to be a panel. I would actually, as a candidate, I would want to know who it was, what they were going to ask me.

How can three or four people ask the same question or fire questions at you? It needs to be moderated. And you as a candidate probably need to have far more expectations set to you than you were just on a one-to-one. And as for being confrontational, you have to be really careful of that because everybody has a different style. And on a one-to-one interview, you could come out that interview and go, God, they asked me some really hard questions, but I managed to answer them. Whereas if you've got three of them sitting in front of you, what to do, people can burst into tears or like, I don't want to work for them if that's the way they interview. All right. Put yourself in a candidate shoes. Do you really want to be in a position like that? I don't.

Susan Manning:

Great point. Okay, so let's jump back to Whitney on the idea of bias and assessments. What's your best pitch when you meet an organization and you say this is one way that you could assess a candidate? How do you explain how they can mitigate any bias?

Whitney Martin:

I give examples of just so often, every time I think that what I do is not necessary, I run into a hiring manager who says, well yeah, I don't want to hire anybody who's too old because this, or I don't want to hire anybody who's too young because this. I actually had one condo association say, I don't think we should hire a woman because she's probably not going to get along with that other woman that works there. But it's not just small companies. I had a huge 40,000 employee medical company who one of the recruiters said, well, it's a customer service role so they need to be patient. I'll click my pen incessantly through the interview and see how the person reacts. I'll read their body language and see. These are the strategies that are being used across the board. And so for me to go to an organization and say, hey, how effective do we think those strategies are?

I could go on and on and on, and you would laugh, of the examples that I've seen being used, they're not. Not only are they not effective, they have the inherent biases of the person. So hiring managers asking, who would you have play you in a movie? The answers to that create all sorts of opportunities for bias that aren't relevant to their ability to do the job. If we can take out as much of that as possible, if we can create alignment of vision around what are the traits that really matter and can we assess them objectively and then use that information to keep focused during the interview on the things that matter, we've taken such a huge step forward at that point in reducing bias.

Susan Manning:

Wouldn't asking irrelevant questions like that also open an organization up to some legal action?

Whitney Martin:

It should. I don't know how often candidates go that route, but yeah, it is absolutely mind blowing to me the things that we see out there especially you're not talking to an HR department, but when you're talking to what actually happens in these interviews with hiring managers.

Susan Manning:

Great. Bailey, something you said resonated with me and that was the idea of personalizing when you're reaching out to potential recruits. I think in general when you tell somebody, this is why I value your contribution or this is something that I think you probably do well, you tend to get a better response out of that individual. Have you ever thought about aligning with your marketing people to help with that messaging or does this just come from the hiring squad?

Bailey Showalter:

Recruitment marketing is I think one of the newest concepts to bridge between marketing and recruiting, because it does have a really big impact on success with sourcing. And there are a lot of strategies that are forming, but it is super new and a lot of companies don't have any resources really pointed at this strategy. And a lot of your core marketing teams are excellent at marketing their products, but haven't really thought about how that turns into the employee brand and how to attach that to recruiting. I think it's a great opportunity for us to step back and to think about what that could look like if we don't already have that function in seat. And to start to brainstorm around what's our employee brand? How do we bring that to bear?

And there can be some personable templates or customizable templates that we write together with marketing and with our recruiting teams, that really lean into the brand that we want to communicate and also give us opportunity to say, but still, this is why I reached out to you, Susan, for this specific role. I think it also, when we are thoughtful at this stage, one of the things that's been running in the back of my mind as Helen and Whitney have been talking, is we tend to, especially once it starts to get into the human stages where we're really interacting with candidates, we tend to implicitly like people like us. And there's been a lot of talk about hiring for culture fit, which propagates that. It makes it feel safe to hire people who are already like us because they'll fit in.

I think this also gives us an opportunity to reframe it as culture additions and to start to think about who's going to bring in perspectives actually that maybe do challenge us and move us forward. And so when we're thinking about how we construct those very initial messages, are we welcoming? Are we inclusive? Are we really creating space for culture additions or are we only looking for people who are already just like us? We're going to start winnowing at that very first step. When we think about that customizable template I think would be a really great place to start and whoever needs to be involved with that. I think bringing marketing and recruiting together is a really ripe opportunity to start to get there. And then really starting to make sure that it is truly welcoming and that it will move the organization forward with the candidates that are being attracted.

Susan Manning:

That's a good point. When you think about hiring a candidate, certainly you don't want them to leave within the first 90 days. Whitney, you referenced three years, but employees have more jobs in their lifetime, younger employees, than maybe someone who's been in the workforce a lot longer. Right? Do we have any information on how long we should expect someone to stay with an organization? Are there any benchmarks? Whitney, I'm tossing it to you first.

Whitney Martin:

It varies drastically based on the industry and the level of the role. But yet again, I think that's one of those screening criteria that many, many HR managers would still claim to rely on if they see those different jobs. This person's a job hopper, we're going to weed them out. Whereas there are studies that would show that that is not accurate. But you would have to reframe your expectations perhaps, is that we might have this person here for a year but they might be absolutely stellar while they're here. I think the expectations would vary drastically by job and by industry and probably even more so now coming out of COVID, I'm not sure if that's even stabilized to a point where we would have any hard data on that.

Susan Manning:

Good point. Helen, how do you manage that?

Helen James:

I agree that I think people should get what they need from the role and then if they need to move on, you flip the coin. We're talking about, what do organizations think? It's actually what does that employee think? What does that candidate want? You could call them boomerangs, they may have great years experience with us and then for some reason they want to leave and we can't give them what they want or they actually don't want to stay, that's fine too. But it could be in a year or two or three years, they actually come back with a whole bunch more experience. The company could have changed its strategy, they could change their product roadmap. They might not have people internally that have got the skill sets they need, but those people that we can go maybe tap somebody on the shoulder to say, we know you moved from us three years ago and you've been working for X, please come back. It's just a different way of looking at it.

We need to make sure we've got an engaged workforce and that's a totally different conversation. Okay? So having people that have been in organizations for a time might not be totally engaged. Once again, we need to be engaged, we need to have people who are highly motivated and if they choose to stay for 12 to 18 months, as technology evolves they want to make sure that they are still staying at the sharp end of that tech roadmap for them. Off they go, just makes our job harder in recruitment, but it's a positive story. I know someone who's like, cracky, they're leaving. It's like, well that's good, as long as they're not leaving for the wrong reasons. I look at it in a different way.

Susan Manning:

I can imagine our marketing team right now scribbling down the next webinar, engaged employees. I can't believe that we are coming up to the end of our time together. I want to ask each of you quickly, a minute or less, what do you hope our audience takes away from this and one behavior you hope they change or implement? Bailey, you get to start.

Bailey Showalter:

For one behavior, I think it is really focus on personalizing how you're showing up for candidates and remembering you're a human, they're a human, and treating them as such. So personalize, make sure you're meeting them where they want to be met and that you're reaching out to them about things that are relevant.

Susan Manning:

Great. Whitney.

Whitney Martin:

Intentionality. Just being much more systematic and identifying what we are selecting for, not just because we've used X, Y, Z tool for 15 years or we look for what we perceive as relevant experience. Really step back and challenge those assumptions and be much more strategic in identifying how we're selecting and what we're selecting for.

Susan Manning:

Great. Helen.

Helen James:

Timely. As I said candidates can come to us with a few offers in their back pocket. Okay. We need to be timely. We need to make sure that we look at it through the candidate lens at all points and to be brand ambassadors. We need to sell, not going in with a big flag, but just make sure that we talk about culture, development, sustainability. We don't just sit back and expect candidates to come to us to be interviewed. We have to be proactive ambassadors.

Susan Manning:

Marvelous. I want to thank all three of you. This was a fabulous discussion. I know that we could go a lot longer. I picked up some great things to think about moving forward. And to our audience, thank you for being with us, for listening and engaging and I look forward to continuing these discussions.

Whitney Martin:

Thank you.

Helen James:

Thank you very much.