​The psychology behind staff selection

Get the right staff and keep them longer

Choose wisely once, everyone wins. (Source: Paul Padshewscky, Flickr)

Choose wisely once, everyone wins. (Source: Paul Padshewscky, Flickr)

Let’s face it. Finding and hiring great talent gets tougher by the day and is a war cry we hear too often.

Given these stark circumstances, it still perplexes me why many businesses spend hour after hour pouring over resumes and then arranging in-person interviews with what they think on paper are standout candidates, only to be disappointed during the interview, or even worse, once they join the organisation.

If that sounds like your business it’s time to change old habits.

We are often reminded that our own best people are our best asset. Those that have demonstrated they have the skills, attitude and cultural fit. I couldn’t agree more. So how do we get more people like that? Not the old way, for sure. Yet we still do it the old way because we know no better.

Because of this talent battle we all face, it’s more important than ever today for organisations to no longer rely solely on experience and qualifications (i.e. resumes) to assess job applicants. Instead, they should benchmark what success already looks like in their organisation and hire against those benchmarks to both filter candidates and shortlist them for interview.

Increasingly, many hiring managers are now seeing this as a new way of recruitment, associating positive cultural fit with positive outcomes for the business. After all, skills can be taught. But attitude is much harder to detect and harder again to train. We all know that a square peg won’t fit in a round hole… and it can be pretty damaging both to the hole and the peg to try. And we also know that research shows that resumes can be creative forms of written prose that don’t tell us anything about that person’s attitude and cultural fit.

The connection between cultural fit and job satisfaction has been recognised, and companies are now aware of the benefits that link cultural fit back to the mental and physical health and the productivity of their employees.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not asserting that the traditional recruitment industry is dead. Rather, that there is technology now available to help you recruit better.

This new way of recruiting is providing the many Australian organisations that have been brave enough to try something different with significant returns. Those returns include significant time savings (removing precious hours reading CVs and interviewing people that are not right for the business) and a dramatic decrease in staff turnover numbers (because they are hiring the right talent).

With Australia’s ‘innovation nation’ mantra and the ongoing digital transformation that is re-shaping how we do things, change for the better is now underway in the recruitment sector. To have a manager-level Human Resources employee sifting through hundreds of resumes and picking the best to interview is unnecessary, outdated and inefficient. Resumes have almost zero association with the way people actually perform in the workplace. Yes, they can be a good place to start and provide employers with an overview of the prospective candidate’s previous work and education experience – but in reality, they give the employer only the faintest clue as to the actual quality of the applicant.

Like resumes, traditional interviews are also known to have profound limitations. It is no secret that interviews favour those applicants who are sociable and articulate; those who know how to make a positive impression on the interviewer – yet these applicants are not always the best job performers. Introverts have it quite tough when it comes to job interviews. Although introverts can be friendly and open once they get to know a person, they don’t always make the best first impression and they tend to be more reserved on first meeting someone new.

If we were to talk about the perfect candidate (and no there is no such thing), words that will come to mind include reliable, hard-working, honest, intelligent and motivated. Any Tom, Dick or Sally is more than capable of putting those words in their resume and claiming these characteristics in their interview. It’s fair to say previously these qualities have not been able to be accurately measured until the employee has shown them in the workplace. Now they can.

There is a psychology behind staff selection and it’s important for organisations to be aware of how this can benefit them in their own recruitment process. For example, although having a master’s degree from a quality University and more than two years’ experience in the industry might be great; it doesn’t mean this candidate is right for YOUR organisation or more specifically, for the role and the team they will join.

Different job roles require different types of people and temperaments; not every successful employee is the most sociable and articulate, and many a star employee started off a little shy and not so social. The point is that companies do need to assess potential applicants for attitude and cultural fit, ensuring they don’t recruit people who on paper may seem right, but will not be right for that specific role or for the team they will join.

Imagine a hypothetical situation: a company looking for a prospective employee to work alongside a current employee who has worked with the company for a number of years. Although the current employee is great at their job, they are highly introverted compared to the average employee. The company now faces the challenge of employing someone to work closely alongside this person. It is doubtful that relying on resumes and interviews will result in the company finding the best employee for this specific role. This is where the psychology behind staff selection comes to the fore.

Through psychometric testing and benchmarking those results against existing “star” employees, companies are now able to remove the guesswork, using predictive software algorithms to identify applicants’ values and attitudes to measure and predict fir to role, culture and team.

Tenfold improvements in staff retention have repeatedly been reported as a result of this innovative, technological approach.

The once traditional and process-driven industry of Human Resources is changing. Those recruiters and Human Resource managers who embrace change and drive innovation will be given time (and a lot of it) back in their day to focus on what matters in the end – the company’s organisational capability and the wellbeing of their employees.

Dr. Glyn Brokensha is Co-Founder and Chairman of Expr3ss!

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