Building a high-quality workforce has never been easy, but today’s challenges — rapid change, an uncertain economy, and skills shortages — make it nearly impossible. In this ever-shifting environment, talent acquisition has become a complex endeavor with multiple questions around how to create a strong hiring process, including providing a great candidate experience and ensuring that DEI best practices are in place.
In this Argyle virtual event, Eightfold Director of Customer Experience Carly Ackerman joined a panel of industry leaders to share strategies you can implement to successfully navigate a challenging hiring environment and retain top talent. Here are the top takeaways:
Emerging technology helps fine-tune hiring needs
With the explosion of AI, more organizations are turning to this technology to automate tasks like screening résumés, scheduling interviews, and understanding candidate skills and interests. But it’s AI’s potential to do much more in the HR space that is exciting.
“AI is going to afford you the opportunity to really look at insights related to skills and a candidate’s ability to learn,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman said that she sees AI helping HR professionals shift from hiring for experience to hiring for potential. “AI is going to afford you the opportunity to really look at insights related to skills and a candidate’s ability to learn,” she said. “So recruiters and hiring managers have a better sense of what a candidate can do tomorrow, rather than just what they’re bringing with them today based upon their prior experience.”
HR professionals are also increasingly using predictive analysis to see how candidates grow and move throughout the organization. This gives talent leaders insights on whether current and future candidates will be successful in the company and the culture in a given role. And of course, at the heart of predictive analysis is data.
And while data fuels hiring innovation, it also presents some challenges. HR leaders are often asked to answer high-stakes questions about their workforces — what high-impact skills do we have among our employees today, what skills are declining, where do we have opportunities to upskill, and so forth. With so much data available, it becomes unwieldy to pinpoint what information is most valuable, and if it’s current enough to provide the insights they need. The quality of the data becomes extremely important if HR organizations are moving toward data-driven strategies and decisions.
“Having the right amount of clean, usable, and current data to make decisions is supremely important,” said panelist Shlipa Kulkarni, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition for Expedia Group. “With this kind of data you can answer questions like: Are there consistent reasons for offer declines? Is there a specific set of candidates who are not successful in the company and why? Can we take this information and build recruiting or L&D programs to address these issues?”
Proven recruiting strategies give you a competitive advantage
To attract and retain top talent, your organization needs to stand out from the rest. Understanding and articulating this is critical at every candidate interaction.
“When you are speaking with candidates and taking them through the process, make sure everyone they interact with knows your value proposition,” said panelist Melissa Frank, Director of Talent Recruitment for New York Public Radio. “This includes company values, what makes your company different, and what your company offers them. I think sometimes many organizations make the mistake of not being clear on the value proposition, and that can sometimes lead to a fit that isn’t quite mutual down the line.”
Kulkarni said a proven strategy is making hiring decisions as fast as possible. “When there is a talented candidate actively looking for a job, there are a lot of recruiters vying for that individual, so taking weeks to make a decision is a big no-no for me,” she said. “If we move through the process swiftly and present an offer faster than another company, then we get the great talent.”
Additionally, Ackerman said that it’s time to look beyond hiring for roles or jobs — and use the help of AI to recruit candidates with broad skill sets and the potential to learn more. When recruiters look to hire candidates based on skills and potential, they widen the talent pool to include people with adjacent skills, or can even search within their own organization for internal talent ready to take on something new.
For example, if the specific skill you’re searching for is statistical knowledge for a data analyst, you could broaden that to data literacy. This enables you to draw from a larger pool of candidates than if you narrowed your skill requirements.
Interview best practices help you find great fits
A critical and ubiquitous part of recruiting is the candidate interview, yet many organizations don’t have training for how to conduct a purposeful conversation. Often, they’ll conduct panel interviews, and if the people on the panel aren’t properly trained, the candidate can feel like they’re being interrogated.
Frank recommends training for proper interviewing techniques. “Ensuring that you’re training managers and individuals on the interview panel to create an environment where candidates feel comfortable,” she said. “Because if candidates aren’t feeling comfortable, they’re surely not going to be able to put their best foot forward. In the end, you’re not going to be able to get a true view of that candidate in that interview process.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that an interview is a two-way process. While the organization is conducting the interview, the candidate is also looking for insights and clues about the culture and what working will be like for them. Interviewers should be prepared to share their personal experiences as an employee with the candidate.
One common challenge for nearly every organization is assessing a candidate’s “soft skills,” including personal attributes, behaviors, and social attitudes that enable individuals to interact effectively with others in a workplace. These are much harder to measure.
For instance, Ackerman shared research that showed people who can accurately gauge which members of a team wield influence have the power skill acuity. These room-readers can reduce group conflict and improve team performance.
While HR organizations might not have access to research methods to identify people with soft skills, Ackerman said simply asking how the candidate interacted with employees during the recruitment process can reveal clues: How did the candidate treat the scheduler? If it was an in-person meeting, how did the candidate treat the person who brought them into the room? What were interactions like with the candidate?
DEI best practices must be embedded in everything you do
Today, there is a lot of focus on how technology, especially AI, could potentially impact diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring.
While many might fear that technologies could inject bias into the process, the opposite is likely to occur. Technology can be a powerful tool for mitigating bias. An example is masking résumés, or removing any indicators about gender, race, and even names so the only information the organization sees are a candidate’s skills and potential.
Building an inclusive and equitable hiring process starts with intention at the beginning — whether the HR organization is using technology or going back to the basics. And a critical part of this inclusive funnel is anti-bias training for hiring teams so they can assess all facets of potential candidates.
The best hiring experiences pair the power of people and technology. Today’s AI-powered HR technologies can automate many time-consuming tasks for recruiters, while surfacing the top talent and insights they need to make the best decisions. In an automated system, candidates and employees can also easily see which roles are right for them based on their skills and interests.
When recruiters and hiring managers are freed from repetitive tasks, they’re given the time and space to focus more on the human element of the hiring process — finding and connecting with great candidates. And when the hiring process is improved upfront, it leads to stronger teams, improved employee experiences, and more resilient organizations ready to weather any change.
Watch the full panel conversation with Eightfold Director of Customer Experience Carly Ackerman and other industry leaders on “Talent acquisition: A new look at hiring strategies,” hosted by Argyle Executive Forum, now on demand.