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Four Evidence-Backed Ways Science Improves Recruitment! 

Four Evidence-Backed Ways Science Improves Recruitment! 

Your preferred style of interview might be down to personal preference, tradition, familiarity or time in your schedule. Does it help you make the best hires?

Finding the “right-fit” is possibly the trickiest part of recruitment. Candidates thrive when they genuinely engage with your company culture as well as having the right skills on paper. Performing well at interview stage isn’t often the best indicator of the long-term performance and fit. Interviews generally fall into one of two camps. ‘Structured’ where candidates are all asked the same questions. ‘Unstructured’ which are more free-flowing. But is one format inherently better?

According to Iris Bohnet, professor of business and government at Harvard Kennedy School:

“Unstructured interviews are consistently rated highest by hiring managers in terms of “perceived effectiveness.”

Bohnet goes on to show there is a substantial body of research suggesting unstructured interviews are one of the worst ways to hire. In one of the most authoritative meta-studies on job interview research Franck Schmidt, of the University of Iowa, showed that unstructured interviews are poor predictors of future job performance.This detailed study, covering much of the available research, showed that structured interviews predicted job success more accurately than unstructured ones.

So, why are unstructured interviews still so popular? Free-flowing interviews feel more natural, but can vary wildly even for similar roles. That’s where inconsistencies creep in – which harm the process. The academic research suggests managers often give too much weight to factors that informal interviews emphasise, like charm or the gift of the gab. It’s not to say these traits aren’t useful, but they tend to crowd out factors that actually determine how well someone will perform in the role.

“Managers are overconfident about their own expertise and experience, and they dislike deferring to more structured approaches that might outsource human judgment to a machine.”

If you would like to optimise your selection process to job outcomes here are four tips from Behavioural Scientist Richard Shotton, author of “The Choice Factory” to bear in mind when you are building your recruitment processes.


Use Structured Interviews over Unstructured

Structured interviews where every candidate answers the same questions have some apparent benefits. They are standardised across a company so that different candidates with different recruiters have a similar experience. This increases control over your employer brand during the hiring process but, more importantly, allows you to choose better between candidates.  It is also future-proofing you as video-technology moves into the recruitment space. We are already seeing video taking off in job advertising, with tools like Monster Studios, and video interviewing is also gaining traction. It is likely in 5 years that video interviewing will be more commonplace, with candidates recording and submitting answers to pre-recorded questions. Having your structured interview process in place will not only improve hires but help you prepare for this. Structured Interviews are also easier to outsource, or to standardise your processes if recruiting from several sources. Monster Talent Consulting can carry out structured tele-interviewing on your behalf as part of a recruitment campaign.

Combine Interviews with other tests

Schmidt’s meta-study found that a general intelligence test was one of the best ways of picking candidates who performed strongly in their job. This correlation was especially true if the positions were skilled ones. The value of conducting a general intelligence test was particularly strong when combined with structured interviews.  Various psychometric, general intelligence, competence and other aptitude tests are available – research and check which ones might work best for you.

Test what attributes best predict later job performance

If you ask your current staff a structured set of questions, You can use this as a benchmark to test what traits correlate with actual job performance. Google has employed this tactic. They have identified the questions which best predict job success and then give higher weight to interviewees scores on these areas. The testing doesn’t just have to involve the types of questions asked in the interview. Tata, for example, when considering university recruits track which universities provide candidates who perform the best and stay the longest. Sometimes the data that proves valuable can be surprising. For example, Evolv, a workforce analytics provider, discovered that the candidate’s commuting distance was a remarkably accurate predictor of churn. While every candidate is an individual and companies must critically not discriminate, this data can help with planning targeted recruitment campaigns.

Peter Capelli, Professor of Management at the Wharton School, argues that companies who protest against the effort of measuring the impact of recruitment processes are guilty of woolly thinking:

Surely this is a prime example of making the perfect the enemy of the good. Some aspects of performance are not difficult to measure: Do employees quit? Are they absent? Virtually all employers conduct performance appraisals. If you don’t trust them, try something simpler. Ask supervisors, “Do you regret hiring this individual? Would you hire him again?”

Use two step on-boarding 

If it’s hard to predict who is going to be the ‘right-fit’ for your company in one or two interviews. If Longer processes could deter good candidates, then trial periods are a safety net.  As Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says:

interviews are just like a first date: Just because someone charms you the first time you meet them doesn’t mean you should marry them.” 

Monitor people over a longer period so you can see how they fit with the team. Understand how they work in practice and their problem-solving skills.  Consider a two-step recruitment process.  Hire workers temporarily, tracking their performance over that time and if they’re successful then offering a full-time job. Remember, this process works both ways and is a way for candidates to check if you are the right fit for them.

Free Webinar – “Applying Behavioural Science to Recruitment”

Ultimately, recruitment is a process about understanding human behaviour.  There are a wealth of Behavioural Science studies, experiments and advice you can apply. Richard Shotton, Behavioural scientist and author of “The Choice Factory” delves into this in more detail in our Monster webinar “Applying Behavioural Science to Recruitment”. Originally this fascinating and useful content was presented exclusively to Monster Customers, but we are now making it available for free as a webinar on 25th March at 11am.

Register to attend here, or using the form below:







Watch the trailer here –