The Dating Game

You might think of hiring as just another job activity, but it is really very much like a dating game, where each party tries to learn as much about the other while divulging as little about themselves. Ignore the rules of the game and you will find yourself without a date for the prom. Learn how the game works and your dates will be attractive and successful. Let’s see how this plays out when developing a recruiting website. All Dressed Up and Dateless Organization: “Here is our beautiful website, professionally designed and with lots of words describing why we are big and successful.” Applicant: “Nice website. I might like to work here. Where can I learn more?” Organization: “Read this list of job titles we have open. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional. Done? Good! Now send us your resume (we know it’s not accurate and very self-promoting, but we want to decide early if you are worth our time).” Applicant: “Pbfltt!” Playing the Game Organization: “Here is our beautiful website, professionally designed and with lots of words describing why we are big and successful.” Applicant: “Nice website. I might like to work here. Where can I learn more?” Organization: “Click on the Learn More Button. Our President wants to tell you about our values and why this is a great place to work. Done? Good! We have several different job “families” in our organization. Click on the “Learn More” Button to view a short preview of what the specific job is like.” [Applicant views short video of the first-line manager job family.] Applicant: “Cool! I like that one!” Organization: “Would you like to see how you would fit in this job compared with others in our organization? Click on the “Job Fit” Button, complete the short questionnaire and we’ll give you some immediate feedback.” Applicant: “Sure, What’s to lose? And I get immediate feedback! [Applicant completes short questionnaire with scores keyed to job fit of current performers. Gets short report.] Organization: “Congratulations! It looks like you would be a pretty good fit. We hope you liked your report. We find that people who like their work have more fun, are more productive and get ahead faster. Please press the “Learn More” Button to move on to the next step. It includes a few short questions about your specific talents and skills.” Applicant: “This is interesting. I think I like this organization! [Completes short questionnaire with items keyed to a few critical factors statistically associated with job performance of current jobholders.] Organization: “It is still early, but your answers look like a very good match for this job! Please wait a moment while we connect you to one of our recruiting associates.” [Recruiter either calls or opens a dialog box on the Web.] Recruiter: “Hello, my name is Mark. I see that you are interested in our organization. Let me tell you why I think this is a great place to work.” [Short sales presentation.] “But enough about us, let’s focus on your questions. What would you like to know about?” [Answers questions.] “Great! I wondered if you would mind telling me more about…” [beginning of a 15-minute pre-screen behavioral interview] “It sounds like you would be a great candidate for the…” [Probes for more job-related details if the candidate meets the initial job criteria.] “We know that resume data is often very spotty and seldom reflects all the job skills you might bring to the organization. If you don’t mind, I would like to add your skills information to our database. We use a standardized format, so if you have a few more moments, I’d like to ask some more specific questions about…” [verbally completes short form of critical job skill questions.] “Thank you! I can schedule a face to face interview for you with people from our organization on… Can we confirm that date?” Applicant: “What a class act!” Commentary Of course, this is only a hypothetical illustration, but it uses some very powerful communication techniques that can make or break the effectiveness of an automated hiring practice:

  • It immediately begins a two-way dialogue between the candidate by volunteering information that applicants want to know about the organization and the job. This is often called a “realistic job preview.” Its purpose is to give applicants the opportunity to psychologically envision themselves (pro and con) in the prospective job ? a key aspect to developing trust and reducing turnover.
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  • It incorporates human contact early in the process. Websites may do a wonderful job with words and pictures, but people are social beings. They want to interact with other people to ask questions, probe details and make better-informed decisions.
  • It uses the “foot in the door” technique to ask for a little bit of information at a time, gradually building up a complete folder of critical job-skill information.
  • It works from a “job-family” target of pre-established competencies to keep the recruiter’s job focused and time efficient.
  • It does not try to capture any information that is not directly related to job performance. Each piece of data in the pre-screen is chosen for impact and direct relevance with job performance. This data was discovered by analytically examining relevant recruiting and employment data.
  • It balances “selling” the organization with “qualifying” the applicant.
  • It does not rely on non-validated web-based tests that can be compromised or might deliver false information.
  • It supplements and compliments a more rigorous investigation into applicants’ job skills using tests and exercises administered during the face-to-face interview phase.
  • It acts fast on potentially qualified applicants while interest in the organization is still at its peak.

A Note on “Assessment” and “Pre-Screening” Some people tend to think that the word “assessment” refers to a place or series of events. Nothing could be further from the truth. Assessment is just a fancy word for “measurement.” Anytime you separate people into “qualified” or “unqualified” piles, you have (knowingly or unknowingly) used some form of assessment tool to make the decision. The assessment could be in the form of an application blank, a screening question, any kind of interview, a resume review, or a web-based test. These are ALL assessment tools because they attempt to measure whether or not someone has the skills for the job. One of the primary goals of using measurement/assessment, whether used early or late in the hiring cycle, is to accurately separate people into the right “pile.” This means not rejecting people who are qualified (i.e., false negatives) or not hiring people who are unqualified (i.e., false positives). This is easier said than done and, more often that not, is done badly. Using good science to both identify job criteria and assure that measurement tools deliver accurate results is fundamental to doing a good job hiring the best people. Common sense would tell us that sloppy measurement will always produce inaccurate and inconsistent results at every stage of the hiring process. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

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