Secrets of a Brighter Workplace


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The practical implications of translating recruitment trends into our practices

Computer says no!

Being up-to-date with the latest recruitment trends is not about being fashionable. It’s not about innovation for innovation’s sake.

It’s about making sure your processes are fit for purpose in a changing market, in a changing world.

20th century techniques will not work in the 21st – and will leave you floundering in the wake of your competitors.

That’s why it’s important to embrace new technologies, take advantage of opportunities to increase candidate engagement, endeavour to make our processes super-slick. It can help us save money, improve reach and be more bespoke.

But it’s easy to get carried away by the excitement of the new. To jump in with both feet before thinking through all the implications, the risks as well as the benefits.

So before we get all hyper-modern and fancy-pants, what are the practical implications of translating these recruitment trends into our practices?

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Trend 1: Candidate as consumer

How do we as recruiters respond to the changing expectations of candidates? Especially when those expectations seem so high. We’re not Amazon Prime after all!

And how do we as recruiters best engage with candidates? What social media sites should you use given there seems to be a new one every five minutes? Where do millennials hang out anyway?!

It can feel complicated and unwieldy. It’s like trying to build on shifting sands.

I think it’s about going back to basics. Don’t worry too much about the medium, focus on the message.

What impression do you want candidates to have of your organisation? What values do you want them to associate with you? What do you want them to say about you to family, friends, associates?

Now think about how you can help them form that impression. Because just telling them isn’t enough. They have to experience it too.

Just as you would want your customers to form the right impression of you from the experience they have of dealing with you, so should your values inform how you treat your job candidates.

What does it feel like to go through your recruitment process? How does that reflect your values?

Think about:

  • What information is available to candidates and from what source. What are you telling them about the role, the organisation etc?
  • How candidates can contact you – phone, email, your Facebook page, online chats?
  • Who is going to monitor and respond to those queries and how quickly. Do you need to have a SLA in place, outlining response times?
  • How you will respond to common queries. Will you for instance have a standard response to requests for feedback e.g. ‘due to a large number of applications we will not be able to provide individual feedback’. Or will you opt for a more personalised approach – one which might take longer but create a much better impression of your organisation.

Trend 2: Technology

Ever had a ‘computer says no’ moment? Of course you have. It’s a fact of life these days. Usually there’s a simple fix – just turn it off and turn it on again! But what if a technological glitch threatens to crash your whole recruitment process?

I’ve seen it happen on numerous occasions. The assessment centre where no one can access the internet because of a firewall. The link to an online test that ends up in a candidate’s spam folder. The Excel spreadsheet exercise that has to be done on paper because none of the laptops at the assessment centre have Excel on them!

That’s the thing with technology. It’s brilliant at making things faster and easier. Until it doesn’t. Then it’s a disaster.

So how are you going to make sure technology helps, not hinders you?

Think about:

  • Have you tested, retested and tested again the kit, the software, the application you’re going to use?
  • If candidates are going to have to use a computer at an assessment centre – have you got enough, are they are set up correctly and have you made sure there are no issues with firewalls or anti-virus software?
  • How are you going to make sure candidates have received information you have sent them by email? Is it worth giving them a call to check?

Trend 3: Using in-house rather than external assessors

Increasingly organisations are using their own assessors rather than bringing in external expertise. This keeps costs down but there are a number of practical considerations to ensure assessments are of a high standard.

1. Consider the assessor training

How will you train your assessors to deliver assessments? It can be virtually impossible to get everyone in a room at the same time so are you able to deliver training in another way, perhaps online as a webinar? Or could you deliver it in bitesize pieces so that people don’t have to free up a whole day? If you do run the training online how will you enable people to embed the learning through discussions, workshops or role playing?

Once trained, how will people maintain their skill levels if assessing isn’t a regular or frequent part of their job?

You may need to factor in some time for refresher courses before a recruitment campaign to bring everybody back up to speed.

2. Consider the cognitive load on assessors

Repetitive work can impact the quality of your decision-making. Particularly if you’re not used to it. It increases your cognitive load i.e. the mental effort it takes to perform a task which can reduce your ability to perform that task well. Which could increase the risk of unconscious bias or stereotyping.

Assessing candidates – whether that’s reading through a pile of CVs or conducting back-to-back interviews – can be repetitive. And be very different from your normal day job.

An HR administrator, for instance, is likely to have a pretty varied list of duties. Doing nothing else but reading through applications for several days, would feel very repetitive and very alien.

Likewise, five days of solid interviewing will quickly start to feel like groundhog day. Your interviewers will have gone barmy by day three. Which will have a serious impact on the quality of their assessing.

Think about:

  • How you can design their assessor role to ensure quality.
  • What breaks will there be during the day?
  • Could they rotate between interviewing and observing?
  • Could you mix up assessing duties with some of their normal activities?


Current recruitment trends offer so many opportunities for recruiters. Technology has the potential to make our lives easier and our activities more cost-effective and streamlined. But with opportunity comes risk. Thinking through the implications before implementing new practices will help ensure your efforts aren’t scuppered instead of enhanced.

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