Diksha sat on her desk, pulling her hair. She had conducted more than 15 interviews for a single position. She wondered why the management had not been able to zero in on a candidate. In her previous organization, she used to close positions within 6 to 8 interviews maximum. From management’s point of view, they are looking for an ideal candidate, however, realistically, there is no ideal candidate.
Talent acquisition is the core of Human Resources. Organizations invest in human capital to reap benefits for the business. In the midst of deadlines and team targets, when the attrition cycle churns, it leaves the hiring managers completely distressed. Job descriptions are made - a lengthy exhaustive list of qualities for a potential employee - often benchmarking the previous employee. They say nobody is indispensable, yet hiring managers look for a 100 percent fitment of the previous employee. A proven track record is better than gaging in experimentation. And thus begins the hunt for the ideal candidate. The process has become all the more complicated with the arrival of COVID-19. Reservations of hiring managers to finalize candidates they haven’t met and getting candidates to accept offers is a new hurdle for the recruiters. “Hiring managers expect plug & play. If they are realistic, they will have faith in their training & trainability of the candidate they hire !” says Captain Partha Samai, Group Head - HR, AGS Transact Technologies Limited.
While we fight the pandemic, economist Arun Kumar estimates the size of Indian economy to drop from 200 lakh crore to 130 lakh crore.1 With unemployment rates at an all time high, number of applicants for openings has increased drastically. Shortlisting profiles have become a daunting task for recruiters. Some companies prefer online assessments tools, some prefer traditional unstructured interviews. Remote video interview, a trend on the rise because of the pandemic, is here to stay. This can expedite the hiring process as well as be cost effective and time saving. Companies are using employment assessment tools & AI driven video assessments tools to weed out unsuitable candidates, but can we rely on these? Blindly counting on technology may have its loopholes. Recently, tech giant Amazon’s machine learning experts discovered that their new recruiting engine was biased against women. The engine had taught itself to prefer men - by perceiving patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period.2
While technology has limitations in this arena, are humans doing it correctly? Unstructured interviews are widely used for hiring candidates. Unconscious biases & mindsets play a secret role here. Hiring managers may simply label the candidate incompetent while in hindsight, biases of all kind creep in. Google recently settled an age discrimination lawsuit of $11 million against more than 200 job seekers who applied for open positions and were aged 40 & above.3 Given the current job market due to COVID-19, hiring someone currently laid off/with an employment gap in resume could either become the ‘new normal’ or turn into another bias in the longer run.
Employee referral is also an excellent way to close vacant positions. Proper cultural fitment, high retention, low hiring costs & timelines are few perks that organizations enjoy when they hire through referrals. Amidst the pandemic, sudden surge of demand in industries like pharma, logistics, edtech, e-commerce sectors has lead to a hiring spree. Employee referrals can work wonders during such times. However, employee referral does have its own limitations. People tend to network with people who share similar background, interests, ethnicity, thus restricting diversity in hiring. Recruiters should avoid this if they are looking to hire a diverse talent pool.
Internal hiring is a trend that is fast catching up in the industry. Giving an opportunity to existing employees is a perfect amalgamation of succession planning and career development. This would be a win-win situation for both the employer and employee. For employers, it saves lost revenue, hiring costs and eliminates flight risk. For employees, it serves as a big morale booster and growth opportunity. Mathew Bidwell, Associate Professor of Management at the Wharton School, found out that outside hires take three years to perform as well as internal hires in the same job, while internal hires take seven years to earn as much as outside hires are paid.4 As per LinkedIn, employees stay an average of 41% longer at companies with high internal hiring vs. those with low internal hiring.5 This could be a simple solution to a complex problem.
Talent acquisition is sort of a mind game. The recruitment funnel shares an uncanny resemblance with the sales funnel and works on the same fundamentals. Just like sales, in recruitment also, human resources managers screen 100s of CVs, shortlist and contact 20 candidates, 10 candidates show interest, 5 candidates come for interview and finally one candidate is selected. This finalized candidate may or may not be the perfect candidate. Finding an ideal candidate is like a fairytale playing in the hiring manager’s mind. This is just an illusion, because in the real world, there is no such thing as the ideal candidate.
- Preparing Recruiting Teams for 2020: HRTechnologist
- Ways to counter recruitment bias against women: Randstad
- Google pays 11m to jobseekers who alleged age discrimination: The Guardian
- Recruiting: HBR
- Recruiting tips: Global Talent Trends 2020: LinkedIN