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Recruitment technology

The Truth About Talent Selection Algorithms

Clare Hopping

Yuri Samoilov/flickr Yuri Samoilov/flickr

Can a computer algorithm really handle the ins and outs of talent selection?

What Is a Talent Selection Algorithm?

A talent selection algorithm is a complex set of instructions that tells a computer program exactly what to look for in a candidate’s job application and how to decide which applicants show the most promise and which should be disqualified from a search.

An algorithm takes away all subjective bias from the early stages of the recruiting process – only once the candidate has passed the initial screening does an actual human then perform a more in-depth assessment. And by this stage, the chance of losing out on high-quality candidates due to some form of recruiter bias has been drastically reduced.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Recruiting-based algorithms have already been tested on a large scale with one important demographic: university graduates. The standard procedure for graduate recruitment has been long overdue for some serious improvements, making this a welcome field for innovative experimentation.

This process is rife with recruitment biases, as large corporations traditionally target the “best” universities in their graduate searches. Not only is this practice inherently unfair, but it’s also an ineffective way to scout out the highest-quality candidates.

According to ERE, the German software company SAP recently conducted a field test of a talent selection algorithm developed to root out a more diverse range of sales position candidates. As part of the process, university graduates from around the world were put to the test using the newly designed SAP online assessment.

SAP sought out applications through digital marketing and social media campaigns, but instead of assigning employees to manually sift through and eliminate CVs from consideration, the applications were processed by the online assessment tool.

While SAP’s leadership was thrilled with the algorithm’s ability to narrow down its search to look for highly specific characteristics, candidates loved its near-instantaneous feedback, allowing them to more effectively use the days or weeks they might have otherwise spent waiting anxiously for a response.

The process consisted of two binary pass/fail tests, each lasting between ten and twenty minutes. The first assessment tested the cultural fit – if the candidate passed, they gained access to a situational awareness test. And if they passed the second test, they would receive a call from a recruiter to arrange an in-depth assessment (conducted by a human, of course).

The Results

While this might all sound incredibly simple and streamlined, the reality is that creating the online test required a serious amount of research, as the company strongly emphasised the importance of pinpointing exactly “what ‘great’ looks like at SAP.”

That said, the results spoke for themselves:

1. Over 50,000 applications were received and assessed, resulting in 500 hires for the firm worldwide.

2. The percentage of abandoned applications dropped from 93% to 25%, meaning that a far higher number of valuable candidates continued with the application process and ultimately got hired.

3. The company’s cost savings on recruitment alone was projected at over £250,000 in the very first year following the algorithm’s implementation.

4. SAP received no complaints about the process. On the contrary, the graduates by and large rated the online tools highly, as 75% said that they increased their motivation to apply, and 88% claimed to have been more engaged with the process than with others they had encountered.

The Future of Recruiting

There’s no doubt that algorithmic candidate selection represents the future of recruiting, promising a more effective and engaging employment process for candidates and recruiters alike.

If you’re enticed by the idea of a talent selection algorithm and want to establish a modern hiring process, developing a video recruitment process with LaunchPad Recruits might be the solution for your business. LaunchPad’s video interviewing service streamlines and shortens your time-to-hire, plus improve your quality of hire by facilitating an efficient screening process.

Is this every businesses reality?

Whilst this approach might be the future, we believe that a consistent approach to validating a candidate's suitability, is non negotiable right now. Technology can ensure you have a consistent, ethical and rigorous process. And for LaunchPad, moving towards an approach which removes bias from a hiring process – is the true aspiration.

Watch this space!

Clare Hopping

Clare Hopping has been involved in the recruitment of both full-time employees and freelance staff for ten years. She specialises in recruiting staff via social media and digital platforms.