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The New Frontier in Candidate Attraction and Engagement

April 1, 2014

Selection decisions are not one-sided.  In blog after blog and webinar after webinar, I see new approaches to evaluating candidates.  To be clear, as the Director of Research and Development, my role is to help Select International discover new approaches to capturing job-related variance in human behavior to predict future actions.  Still, I often see a disproportionate emphasis on what organizations can ‘do to people’ to measure how they are going to act on the job. There is very little emphasis placed on the important decision that candidates have to make about the organization.

Candidate Attraction and EngagementThat’s right, the candidate’s decision making process is important to consider as we develop and refine our approach to selection.  If we do not treat a selection process as a bi-directional decision making event, some candidates will make the wrong decision about joining our organization.  When candidates make the wrong decision about our organization; we are the people who ultimately feel the pain of that bad choice.  If a candidate is duped into thinking they are a good fit in the job environment because we are attracted to their assessment scores or other selection data; we suffer when the candidate realizes taking the job was a bad decision.  Whether the pain is manifested through turnover and replacement costs, low productivity, or counterproductive work behaviors; the organization will feel the consequences when a candidate makes the wrong decision about organizational membership.

If we accept that treating a selection decision as bidirectional, how does it impact our approach to selection and assessment? 

There are a few approaches for candidate engagement in the hiring process, some simple and others more complex.  Some best practices, such as asking candidates if they have questions about the job and organization before and after interviews, are effective.  Providing the candidate with a tour of the work environment and helping the candidate build a realistic understanding of the organizational culture assists the candidate’s decision making process.  Further, it is not a bad idea to have a discussion with a job candidate where you specifically state that the purpose of the meeting is to allow the candidate to collect data about you. 

I personally have these discussions when I hire onto the R&D team at Select International.  When a candidate visits our offices, I have a half hour meeting with him or her with the explicit purpose of explaining the organization, culture, and work environment. This is done so that the candidate can collect the data he or she needs to make an informed decision.  I find this conversation starts the day with a positive tone and helps the candidate see we take his or her decision making process seriously.  I have found that respecting their need to make a decision has paid dividends far into the future when onboarding the candidates who are selected.

More excitingly, we are starting to see much more interesting and effective approaches to candidate engagement hitting the marketplace.  First, “gamification” is a buzzword increasing in frequency.  Gamification refers to using video game technology and principles in situations where games have not traditionally been used.  These video game experiences have tremendous candidate engagement potential.  They can provide candidates useful information about the job, culture, or some other aspects of the work environment.  These experiences are not only fun, but also allow the candidate to learn something about themselves and their fit in the organization.  While gamification is a new concept in the selection process, there could be tremendous value in using games to provide useful information about organizations in a way that is fun and engaging for job applicants.

Another approach to candidate engagement that is cutting edge and has the potential to change the face of attraction and onboarding processes is emerging technology, such as True Image Interactive.  This unique software provides a human avatar that serves as a selection process ‘coach’ and can even follow the candidate through the onboarding lifecycle.  Technology such as True Image makes a connection with the candidates and allows the candidate to interface with the organization through an innovative and engaging method.  This approach helps candidates to collect the data they need about the organization and the selection process without involving any HR resource.  The value of this software for helping candidates make the right decisions, while recruiters focus on collecting the data the organization needs to make a decision, could be a game changer. 

We are on the verge of a new frontier in candidate attraction and engagement.  It is truly exciting to see emerging technologies focusing on helping candidates collect data about the organizations in which they are interested.  I believe these technology applications help the health of a selection process.  If a candidate ultimately self-selects out of a process because he or she does not fit with the organization, that is every bit as much of a selection process success than when we screen someone out with a test.  Further, the technology available for organizations to leverage for engagement, evaluation, and onboarding candidates these days is nothing short of amazing.  Early adopting organizations will reap benefits in their selection processes as the rest of their competitors continue to administer slow moving and boring conventional talent strategies.  

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Ted Kinney, PhD Ted Kinney, PhD is the VP of Research and Development for PSI. An Industrial/Organizational psychologist, Dr. Kinney leads a team of selection experts and developers in the creation and on-going research into the most efficient and effective selection methodologies and tools. He is a trusted advisor to many international companies across all industries. He has particular expertise in behavioral interviewing, turnover reduction, effective selection strategy, and executive assessment.