Regular recruitment activities are routine for almost every business, yet the need to review and update effective processes are often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of everyday work. The standard process of recruitment and selection follows a well-worn path of defining personal and position descriptions, sourcing candidates, screening applications, developing shortlists, conducting interviews and reference checks, and making a job offer. The exact nature of these activities may differ slightly between countries and over time with legal and technological advances, but they have remained essentially the same for decades.
Sourcing candidates by asking high-performing employees who are already working in the enterprise for referrals is still popular, and reference checking is reappearing as a valuable source of supplementary information to business and social networking sites. According to research published by Beaman and Magruder (2013), finding potential recruits through current employees is becoming more popular. Their research found 45 per cent of employees had helped friends and relatives secure employment. Similarly, in the United States between 30 and 60 percent of employment decisions are influenced in this way. This has benefits for employers and employees. Employers can use it as a screening mechanism, particularly when they include a ‘pay for performance’ component in rewarding referrers, while potential employees find it lowers the costs of job searches.
Risks in Referrals and Finder’s Fee schemes
The obvious yet frequently overlooked risk in these methods of sourcing candidates is that your current employees lose time in completing their important deliverables. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern of believing this process is quick and easy to complete only to realise that much time is lost to back and forth communication and information exchange. Considering networks can be a great starting point to the recruitment process, but be sure to place a cap on time and ‘promises’ exchanged with the outside world.
Another reoccurring risk in sourcing candidates this way is determining whether the candidate is being put forward because they’re good, or because it’s a favour: in other words, who exactly is going to benefit the most if they’re appointed? You can reduce this risk so long as you do two things:
First - high-performers are better at identifying and recommending other high performers, so consider how to limit any referral program to employees who do well themselves.
Second - instead of paying a flat finder’s fee on appointment, consider ways to link the referrer’s reward to the performance of the candidate in the job. Beaman and Magruder’s (2013) study found that employees were seven per cent less likely to refer relatives in “finder’s fee on performance” schemes.
Validating with Reference Checks
Of course, there is no silver bullet in hiring, and recruiters are always looking for new ways to further improve the reliability and validity of the predictive tools available to them. The popularity of reference checking as one of these tools has re-emerged for several reasons: the desire to reduce risk in the hiring process by improving the quality of hires, the reestablishment of favourable legal structures in some countries, and empirical support for the value of reference checking.
However, the best reference checking requires a disciplined and methodical approach of asking referees to provide specific and routine answers to questions that are not only consistent across candidates, but also identify a candidate’s required developmental areas and performance strengths. This can then be compared to other sources of information as well as between candidates (Hedricks, Robie & Oswald, 2013). Focussing on reference checking as a comparative tool can also help temper any overenthusiasm by individual employees involved in the hiring process and alert hiring managers to issues with online information, such as intentional overstatements, or unintentional instances such as people with the same name showing up in online searches.
Taking personality predictors on board - Conscientiousness
Finally, to supplement the suite of psychometric and other testing procedures, the trait of conscientiousness can be useful. Personality traits are useful predictors of performance and research on conscientiousness has shown that this facet is particularly useful. But, its value in predicting performance decreases as the cognitive requirements of the job increase. While it’s still useful to assess for conscientiousness no matter the job, it should become less of a priority in the final decision for higher-level jobs. As with any psychometric assessment tool, expert advice will help you implement it correctly and effectively into your process.
In order for human resources practitioners to improve the recruitment and selection process they should consider increasing quality sourcing with performance-based rewards for candidate referrals, improving reference checking with objective comparative tools, and assessing candidates for key attributes such as conscientiousness. These improvements in sourcing, screening and testing candidates help provide hiring managers with more comprehensive and cross-checked information on candidates.
Understanding the need for video and phone interviewing tools
Thought leading and innovative Australian hiring managers are now learning more about the latest advances in virtual interviewing. Voice Advantage allows you to quickly interview hundreds (and even thousands) of applicants online with a constant goal being the effective adoption of new technology to eliminate laborious aspects of the entire recruitment process (phone tag, courtesy calls, setting up interviews for starters). An important notion to remember is that not all recruitment processes are focussed on time management. Managed effectively, adopting pre-recorded interviews through a customised platform gives you earlier access to A-grade applicants whom you have limited time frames to hire due to their universal appeal. By using a controlled and uniform interview process you also gain a fair, recorded and defensible benchmark to refer back to during early stages of employee development.