Saturday, January 15, 2005

HR - Alternative Methods for Effective Recruitment

The interview is probably the most common tool used in the recruitment process. It is, of course, not the only tool available and in fact, studies have shown that there are other methods which are probably more effective.

For example, the use of psychometric tools is gaining in acceptance and is now used by many companies as part of their graduate selection process. Most psychometric tools from reputable companies (e.g. Saville & Holdsworth or SHL) have been rigorously tested and have been shown to be good predictors of future job performance. The most commonly used among them are the reasoning tests (sometimes called aptitude tests) and the personality questionnaire.

Reasoning or Aptitude tests provide users with a numerical score at the end of the test that indicate how the candidate performed compared to his/her peer group. This assists an employer to sift through a large number of candidates in a short space of time with a good degree of objectivity. The employer also has the advantage of lowering or increasing the “cut-off” score to suit their own requirements.

A personality questionnaire is different in that it is not a test. Such questionnaires are also not normally used in isolation during a recruitment process. Generally speaking, they normally give an indication of a candidate’s typical style, inclination or likes / dislikes. It essentially helps us focus on how a candidate may approach a job rather than their ability to perform that job. That is why personality questionnaires are best used in conjunction with other tools like an interview so that the areas of concern highlighted by the questionnaire may be adequately probed.

There are many other methods which can be used like Group Exercises, the In-Tray or In-basket tests, Analysis Presentations and even Role Plays or Interactive Exercises. Which method we choose to use depends on the competencies or behaviours we wish to assess. Alternatively, we could use a number of methods in one intensive assessment session usually called an Assessment Centre. Such methods are gaining in popularity amongst MNCs.

Logically speaking, the more methods we use, the more information on a candidate we obtain, the more robust our process and the more effective our recruitment overall. However, practically speaking, we are all short on time and budgets. We should therefore select those methods which provide information on the most important of the criteria / skills that the ideal candidate ought to have for the role that we need to fill.

In terms of interviews, it is a tool that is so commonly used that everyone thinks they have the skills to conduct an interview. Sometimes, this view is simply based on having been through a few interviews themselves! The problem is, research has shown that a poorly executed interview, that is, without proper planning, objectives and structure, is a very poor predictor of future job performance. It is actually not that easy to conduct a structured, well planned interview.

One effective way of structuring an interview is termed the competency or behavioural based interview method. In this approach, we first need to ascertain the behaviours that need to be assessed. We then develop our questions based on the philosophy that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. As such, we spend most of the interview trying to gather “evidence” on past actions and activities relating to the competency being assessed.

Because of the enormous time and effort required to manage the recruitment effort effectively, it is now fairly popular for many companies to “outsource” most of the recruitment process to recruitment agencies or “head-hunters”. For very senior positions or for specialist positions where talent is scarce, such agencies conduct a thorough search of the market to obtain the most suitable candidate. However, for positions which are commonly found in most commercial organisations such as Marketing, HR or Finance Manager, agencies will search their database and sift through the numerous resumes that arrive through advertisements to identify the best matched candidate.

Since most recruitment agencies charge based on a percentage of the salary of the successful candidate, many companies think nothing of setting aside a princely sum for the luxury of outsourcing the identification of their most precious asset. In an era where competition and budgets are getting tighter, HR Managers need to put more thought to how they can extract more value from their partnership with external agencies. Companies should consider assessing their agencies on issues like how thorough are their assessments (considering the various tools available as shown above), what are their findings on the candidates being recommended, is there a need for a real search and if so, how will the search be conducted.

The recruitment process is one of the ways in which companies identify its future leaders (or perhaps even their present one). As such, it stands to reason that the process needs to be as rigorous and as robust as possible. As HR Managers, there is a need to thoroughly review the available options. Or else using head-hunters will not only cost you an arm and a leg, it could cost you your own head as well!

(This is a summary of a talk I gave at the Singapore HR Institute on 16 December 2004)


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At 2:39 pm, Blogger Ankeeta said...

Very informative piece of writing. You have explained various methods that can be used for recruitment. What method would you suggest to find the candidate who is culturally fit for the organization?

At 8:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cultural fit? Obviously one needs to identify the elements of the orgiansational culture if it is not already spelled out. After that, it is a matter of crafting the questions to assess if they "fit".

Another perhaps simpler, method is to go through the candidate's work experience and ask them what they liked most and least during their their time there. This alone will give you an idea if they will fit the environment you have in your workplace without alerting the candidate on what you are looking for.

Hope this helps.



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