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Recruitment and screening today have become more complex than ever: With the boom of social and mobile media and huge online job boards, applicant volume has skyrocketed. At the same time, job descriptions and roles have become increasingly intermingled.

Fortunately, a handful of new tools and tactics is allowing recruiters to use predictive models to streamline screening, giving managers insight into how well an applicant might actually perform. In fact, assessing applicants with these new tools should be prerequisite to any offer letter, says Dr. Charles Handler, president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a consultancy that specializes in pre-employment screening. Handler, who has spent the last decade coaching companies on creating more effective hiring processes, suggests three core strategies for better matchmaking.

Put Candidates to the Test

The most common type of job interview, unstructured, can actually prove to be a significant handicap in hiring. Why? They don’t provide nearly the same level of productive feedback as more structured interactions that simulate and test the required job skills and behaviors.

It’s often difficult for companies to create realistic simulations of the job at hand. Yet there are tools that can introduce scenarios and business problems that can help evaluate key skills. These can range from simple aptitude or personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to multimedia scenarios that prompt job applicants to respond to or function within a particular on-the-job scenario. The use of various personality tests – Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness (DISC) and the Caliper Profile are a couple other examples – during the hiring process has been on the rise in recent years. Whatever you choose, customize simulations as much as possible. 

For example, if a candidate is going to be doing data entry or transcribing notes for the majority of his day, give him a typing test, not a math test. Creating a custom simulation gets a bit more difficult the more complicated the position: giving a prospective manager a valid test isn't nearly as straightforward as, for instance, a simulation in the manufacturing sector.

The candidate’s performance during any of these types of tests will provide valuable information about his or her ability to do the job. By introducing valid simulations that are miniature replicas of the job, you can get a better feel for a candidate’s potential than you would from the traditional interview. 

Look to the Data

The Web and the cloud can provide a wealth of data for hiring managers – background information, employment history, recommendations from former colleagues, professional connections – but where to start, and what's the most effective use of this data? Any data that relates to work performance can be traced back to the traits and characteristics of that particular employee during the hiring process. And that then, can be used as an indicator for future candidates. 

Take salesforce management for instance: Managers can take sales data, such as customer service rankings, performance numbers or sales leads, and extract themes and traits among their successful salespeople. They can then use that data to screen for those traits in applicants. Other data to consider: How did this person come to the company? Were most of them referred through current employees? Facebook? What else do these people have in common?

From there, you can begin building a better picture of the initial traits of a successful candidate, alter their recruitment strategy accordingly and allocate more money to finding people through those channels. “Look at the history of successful candidates and identify those same traits in prospects,” Handler says.

You've Filled the Position, Now Close the Loop

All too often, HR managers make the hire and move onto the next position to be filled, rather than taking a step back to identify the larger patterns of success at play. If the resources are there, conducting a business-outcomes study is an incredibly valuable step to add to your assessment toolbox. Don’t cut the process short and miss out on valuable lessons that will help inform all future hires. 

By examining the rhythm and challenges of the hiring process, HR managers can streamline their procedure – scrap the unstructured interview, introduce an on-the-job simulation, tap into the data. It's all about making the most of your assets, which often fall by the wayside in the hustle of the hiring process.

“We’re learning a lot about a person during the hiring process,” Handler says. “We want to leverage that information and not just waste it.”

Photo: Creative Commons