By Geil Browning on 24 Jan, 2018 2:49:35 PM
The resume is impressive. The interview flows. The background check is clean. The hire is made. It still looks good on paper, but this classic scenario is quickly becoming HR history.
Employers of every size and of every industry are adding another layer to the hiring process--that is, using questionnaires to gather as much information as possible about job candidates--their personalities, behaviours, tendencies, preferences, hopes, dreams and fears--in order to make optimal hires. In other words, the criminal background check just isn't enough anymore. Employers want to make sure you're a good fit for the company culture and the role for which they are hiring, too.
It is called "people analytics", the hottest thing in HR right now, and who can blame employers for taking advantage of it? If turnover can be reduced and productivity maximised by simply getting job candidates to answer a few (or a few hundred) simple questions, why not?
People analytics is certainly a buzzword and may be considered to be a trend. But in my opinion, this practice of using information about individuals to get them into the right jobs that play to their unique strengths is a strategy that is here to stay. Why am I so confident? Because my company, Emergenetics International, has been using people analytics before people analytics was people analytics. We know it works, and we know it's a business driver.
It was as clear to us in the 80's when we were developing our psychometric Profile as it is today--employers want to hire good, productive people. They want them to fit in and they want them to stay. Our business exists to help our clients achieve these things, and thereby achieve and sustain success.
Our core method, which has remained unchanged for over 30 years, involves individuals completing a 100 question questionnaire, from which a personal profile is generated. The Profile provides a measure of the person's preference for the four thinking attributes (Analytical, Structural, Social, and Conceptual) and where they fall on the behavioural spectrum for Expressiveness, Assertiveness, and Flexibility. The Profiles are a useful tool for employers as they develop talent and assemble balanced, high-performing teams.
Our own "big data" has taught us a great deal over the years, but no lesson is more important than this: cognitive and behavioural diversity--within departments, leadership teams, organisations--is essential to business success. Different personalities, preferences, and behaviours complement each other and enhance the value of any team.
This brings me to my concern about people analytics and what it is becoming. Andrew B. Myers, in his article in Time Magazine, wrote that employers are developing algorithms that can predict with high certainty whether a candidate will be successful based on the questionnaire answers. Some are even taking a certain number of questions that high performers all answered the same way, and hiring candidates that answer that exact same way.
I'm all for improving the odds for success, and in fact my company offers a pre-hire assessment, but seeking to hire the exact same person seems like just a couple steps too far. At what point does an organisation become homogenous? Can you imagine stimulating discussion, healthy debate, or a highly functioning team in a department of individuals who all answered the same questions the same way on the same personality test? Answers that were likely a product of each individual's life experience and worldview?
I wrote about the gut last time. You know, that intuition we have the links us to nature and differentiates us from the machines? I hope we leave a little room for the gut feeling to get a word in edgewise in the HR discussion. Information is king these days, but let's use it to create diversity rather than to quash it.
This article was originally published in Inc.com “ What Every Company Should Know About Talent Analytics".