The Future of Recruitment

Just as the way we work has evolved so too has the way we hire. This issue our Thought Leaders explore the future of recruitment by Simon King and Cora Lydon

THE RECRUITMENT INDUSTRY has evolved significantly over the last five years; driven by technology, market outlook and a shift in what employees are looking for in the job market. Additionally the 2008 financial crisis’ impact was felt for many years after, which had a knock-on effect on hiring patterns across the globe.

Yet there’s been little change to the way hiring is conducted, despite decades of research revealing that conventional recruitment routes have a poor track record in determining the best person for the job. Using 85 years’ worth of research Frank Schmidt and John Hunter found that the three most common hiring techniques were actually poor ways to predict the job performance of the chosen candidate. Taking into account years of relevant experience only predicted three per cent of overall job performance, reference checks attributed to another seven per cent and the traditional style interview accounted for just 14 per cent of accurately predicting the outcome of the new hire. What this all means is that when combined, using these three methods to find the right person for a role only gives a 25 per cent chance of hiring someone who can actually carry out the role to the standard required – the recruiter may as well toss a coin to select a new employee.

Across the globe heads are being put together to work out what works when it comes to finding the perfect applicant for job openings and it’s commonly being tailored towards the majority of the workforce. Last year Deloitte revealed that its previously lengthy, three-stage recruitment process was being condensed down into a single day in order to suit millennial job candidates – who by 2025 will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce.

But it’s not just about doing something different for the sake of it – or the PR opportunity. Google’s long-famed riddles and questions asked at interviews have been replaced, after the web giant found no direct correlation between the eventual hire and their answers. But it still shies away from traditional techniques instead utilising problem-solving questions, practical performance assessments and hypothetical questions.

As demand for support staff continues to be strong you might find that the next time you’re applying for a new role you notice something different, or that you’re being asked to implement new ways of finding and evaluating potential job applicants in your current company.

Thought Leader: Alex Jones, senior regional director, Hays Office Support, Australia

“Blind recruitment involves removing all personal details, such as name, gender, age and education, from applicant CVs. Unconscious bias impacts who gets an interview and who doesn’t. Blind recruitment removes this bias from the CV screening stage and ensures people are selected for interview based on the relevance of their skills and experience alone.

“One of the earliest examples of the technique actually took place in 1980 in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which, up until then, was comprised almost entirely of white male musicians. Recognising a diversity problem, they tried a different approach to auditioning new members; the recruitment panel sat behind a screen so they could only hear the music of those auditioning. They even put carpet down so that high heels could not be heard. This resulted in the ensemble becoming a near 50-50 split of male and female, with a lot more diversity and the sound they wanted for their orchestra.

“In June 2016 The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced it had doubled its proportion of women in senior roles in a matter of months after changing its recruitment practices – chief of which was removing the names, genders and other identifying details of applicants.

“It’s important for PAs to have an understanding of how the process works, since they could be required to remove identifying information from CVs before they are sent to a hiring manager. PAs can also be involved in organising unconscious bias training, which is very important in ensuring an organisation can create and maintain a diverse workforce.

“When looking for their next job PAs should remove as many identifying factors from their CV as possible – obviously you must include your name, but you do not need to add any other personal details.

“In future, we expect to see more organisations looking to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process in order to create a more diverse workforce. One obvious way this will happen is the automation of the initial screening process, which will not only quicken the recruitment timeframe but remove unconscious bias from this stage.”


Thought Leader: Charles Hipps, CEO, WCN, London


“To me, virtualisation can be defined as automated processes that crunch high volumes instantly, cut admin and costs, drive transparency for candidates and recruiters, expand reach and diversity, and massively reduce the time-to-hire.

“Virtualisation is truly the future of candidate engagement. Everything is oriented to making processes simpler for applicants, from basic aspects such as a LinkedIn sync to make application processes more seamless to using email and text message technology to confirm successful applications that need to be progressed by the candidate.

“Video interviewing and gamification also help get candidates into an employer psyche and feed into full-day events where they’re immersed in what it’s like to work at the company. In this digital era, the push from employers needs to revolve around creating an engaging experience and personalising the process for candidates – and in order to do this, employers need to utilise technology to ensure they form a bond from a very early stage.

“Virtualisation will be important for really getting under the skin of candidates applying for these jobs and understanding from an early point if they would be a good fit for the role in question. Time-pressured executives don’t want to spend long periods of times undertaking hiring experiences but nor do they want to be rehiring again after short spells of times. Using virtualisation helps to test candidates for competent computer, communication and organisational skills.

“Whatever the virtualised approach, the testing for PAs will look at scenarios that test the obvious, namely: excellent organisational and time management skills; good written and spoken communication skills; accuracy and attention to detail; a calm and professional manner; excellent computer and administration skills; a flexible and adaptable approach to work; the ability to use your own initiative; and tact and discretion, for dealing with confidential information.”


Thought Leader: Henry Stewart, CEO, Happy

“Under Collaborative Hiring everybody who will work with a person is involved in the decision on who to appoint. And it tends to mean going beyond the traditional interview, getting the candidates to work with a range of people in the organisation.

“The result is a better decision as more people are involved (so it’s less likely to be based on personal bias); it gets the full involvement of those they will work with – meaning people are committed to making the new hire work well; and finally the candidates get to meet more people and get to know the company better – and decide whether it’s right for them.

“For PAs involved in hiring: your role is crucial. What I’ve always found is that the PA has the best understanding of how people interact and how the organisation actually works. I would always get the PA involved, from suggesting roles different people should play, to organising the whole event. It tends to involve more than just a series of interviews, as you will have different activities taking place. So if you have six candidates, you will typically have six different activities taking place simultaneously (maybe an interview, a piece of analysis, one or two directly work-related activities etc). I’ve always found the PA is the best at making this work.

“For being hired: It’s just like work itself, you will know how important it is to get on with everybody. It’s generally the PA who knows best how to make something happen, knows who to turn to. You can get so much more done if people trust you and like you. The same is true at a collaborative hiring event: make sure you come across not only as somebody with the skills to do the job, but as somebody who is positive and supportive and that they would want to work with. Most companies who practice collaborative hiring also follow the approach ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’.”


Frank Ribuot, CEO, Randstad Australia and New Zealand
A personal touch
“Australia’s dynamic workforce is driving rapid change in recruitment practices. The combination of technologies used by all businesses reflects an increasing sophistication in their work practices. While effective talent engagement demands a balance of digital and face-to-face interaction, we foresee a future in which technology will offer a more personal experience than traditional approaches to the recruitment process. The future of recruitment is a marriage of tech and touch, where people leverage technology to build better relationships between the talent we source and the clients we support. Our ambition is to combine genuine human interest and expertise with the best technology to transform and enhance the way people and jobs connect.”


A radical approach to recruitment

Meet the companies who are throwing out the rulebook:
• Zappos: the online US shoe retailer offers new hires $3,000 to leave at the end of their training. The idea is that only people who really want to work with the company will choose to stay and forego the offer.
• Pret-a-Manger: once a potential candidate has passed the initial screening they’ll be invited to work a day in one of the branches. Staff in that store then take a vote as to whether they get hired permanently.
• GCHQ: The British intelligence and security organisation designed a ‘crack-the-code’ challenge. For those who successfully solved it, they were directed to a webpage with the company’s current career opportunities.
• Sober Lane: This Dublin pub requested Snapchat applications when advertising new staff – and impressively received over 2,700 potential new hires.

If you work for a great organisation then why not nominate it for an Executive PA Awards in the “employer of the year” category. Nominations close o the 31st July