Secrets of a Brighter Workplace


Tips on how to understand, recruit and keep the best people for your business


How technology and austerity have transformed the way we recruit

What’s new, pussycat?

technology video

We live in an age of austerity. Since 2008/09 cost-cutting, belt-tightening and penny-watching have been the order of the day.

You might think this would lead to something of a bunker mentality. A risk-averse, stick-to-what-you-know attitude. Batten down the hatches and wait until things improve.

But you’d be wrong.

Austerity has coincided with huge technological advances – things have become smarter, faster, smaller, more connected, more interactive, more social.

These two phenomena – technology and austerity – have driven some of the biggest changes and developments we’ve seen in recruitment over the last five years.

From video conferencing to gamification, recruiters are tapping into new technologies to enhance the way they advertise roles, sift, interview and assess candidates and save money.

And they’re discovering a wealth of added benefits. Not just increased automation and less paperwork. But they’re also able to reach a more diverse audience. Improve time to hire. And increase the quality of applicants.

Using technology to recruit is no longer a fad, or a novelty. Or just for hipsters. It’s an essential element in the battle for the best candidate for the job, on time and within budget.

Moving online

One of the most fundamental yet basic shifts in recruitment has been the move from paper to online. Administering personality questionnaires and ability tests online, for instance, has meant less paperwork (obviously!) and quicker processing.

Plus, candidates can complete these tests remotely rather than having to attend a session at a particular time and venue – with all the additional admin that entails for the recruiter.

This has enabled recruiters to access a wider, more diverse audience. Candidates who previously would not have been able to attend a physical assessment centre (because of geography, disability or lack of funds) can now take part.

This has a positive impact on social mobility – a key Government priority at the moment. By removing the need to be in a certain place in order to be assessed and by speeding up the time to hire, recruiters are breaking down the barriers to employment for people on lower incomes.

The same goes for tools like video interviewing – using Skype or web chat facilities, which are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to telephone interviews, even face-to-face interviews.

The Civil Service Faststream, for example, does as much as possible online, including video interviewing, to improve the diversity of the candidates they attract whilst being mindful of the use of taxpayers money.

SJTs – a realistic job preview, not just a sifting tool

Over the last few years I have seen a significant rise in the use of situational judgement tests (SJTs) in recruitment. And not just as an efficient and cost-effective way to sift large volumes of applicants online.

Increasingly recruiters are more interested in the way SJTs can be used to convey the reality of the job to candidates. Thereby enabling candidates to sift themselves in or out of the process, and be better informed about what the job entails once they come onboard.

Not only does this approach improve the quality of candidates but is another way to improve diversity. It breaks down misconceptions of a job e.g. from “I’m not going to fit in there, it’s a very male-dominated organisation” to “oh ok, I can see there’s a place for me.”

SJTs are also becoming more popular because they measure flexible intelligence. As we now know, following advances in the way we study the brain, intelligence isn’t fixed. The brain has the ability to build new neural pathways well into adulthood – known as neuroplasticity. The tests that we used to use to measure IQ as a fixed attribute have become seriously outdated.

Recruiting using social media

Organisations have never been more visible. It’s easy for applicants to find out what it’s really like to work anywhere – using sites like Glassdoor or social media.

It’s like having your underwear on show. It’s never been more important to ensure your external image is aligned with the internal reality of life in your organisation.

But social media can be used to your advantage too. The best companies are using it to build a following, engage with potential employees well in advance of any recruitment campaign. So that when they do recruit, they’ve already got people knocking on the ‘virtual’ door, as it were.

The gamification of recruitment

Once a nice-to-have for the big boys, increasingly businesses of all shapes and sizes are exploring the uses of gaming technology to enhance their recruitment practices.

Gamification is the application of ‘game dynamics’ in non-gaming contexts. In recruitment, games are being used to attract, engage and assess candidates. Like SJTs, this approach also gives the organisation a way to portray the nature and reality of the position to candidates. But games bring an element of fun and competition to the activity which further engages candidates.

For example, Sten10 have been turning social work training videos into interactive simulation exercises for the recruitment and development of social workers. Thereby creating a sense of realism for candidates with a watchful eye on budgets.

The marriage of technology and austerity are transforming the way we recruit. And the evidence is growing that these developments are having a positive impact on diversity, accessibility and accuracy.

What technological innovations are you using or exploring to enhance your recruitment process – I’d love to know.

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