you’re hired…

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Having misspent my whole life in recruitment, I’m forever being asked to cast a critical eye over pals’ CVs or run through the tough-interview-practice questions with them, and in all honesty, long may it continue as I love it! Mind, it does appear that every so often, someone somewhere announces that they’ve reinvented the recruiting process and can ensure a far more successful outcome than I was ever able to.

In recent times, we’ve had bosses who reckon they can hire the best individuals by analysing their interactions with waiters, shop assistants and domestic staff. Alternatively, we’ve had an internationally acknowledged biologist who claims you can only get an accurate match by measuring candidates’ facial characteristics. The latest sharp-tool on the rack, believes it’s essential to turn the process on its head and get the potential employees to interview each other before recommending who they’d recruit into the position. Hhhmmm, let me get back to you on that one.

There are obviously all manner of potential problems with the traditional job interview – bias, prejudice, fear, poor preparation, debatable comparison criteria, decision-making ability etc, but the alternatives are often worse. There’s good reason why its survived so long, it generally works! The age-old interview selection necessitates the candidates putting reasonable effort into first stretching the truth on paper and then trying to carry it off with a straight face whilst answering predictable questions and attempting to feign interest in a job they’d sooner not have to do. Preparation and lying convincingly are two traits I’ve always held in high regard!

In any event, getting your CV in order is only the beginning of the process, it’s barely only the foot in the door: the CV gets you the a telephone interview, which, if it goes well, secures you the first face-to-face meeting; the first interview hopefully leads to the second and the second, ideally, results in… an ‘offer’. And it’s at this point in time that the recruiting process, and the negotiations therein, really start. When an offer is made the power dynamic is completely reversed and it’s only at this point in time the real questions can be asked!

However, disregarding my cynicism for a second, it does appears that one major change may have taken place in the recruiting process, especially if you want a job within a multinational corporation, as the robots are coming. Most large international firms now use computer programs, algorithms by any other name, to automatically screen candidates seeking junior, graduate and entry-level roles, and frankly who can blame them? Last year Goldman Sachs received over 250,000 applications from graduates and students alone. A staggering number and one, that without automatic, supposedly non-partisan and intuitive screening, would necessitate a level of management and administration beyond the capability, not to mention the budget, of all HR departments.

So, the game has now changed and we all need to think not about what potential employers are looking for but what in particular their algorithms are seeking to identify. Being as technical as I am tall, I’d better get my coat…