Is Recruiting an Art or a Science?
By: Dave Lefkow
Recruiting an Art or a Science?
recruiting industry has come a long way in the last five years. Companies have
shifted from, "Should we recruit online?" to, "How do we use
technology to gain a strategic advantage for talent?" And now we stand
ready to take the next steps. As scientific selection, online assessment testing
and skills screening gain critical mass, we must ask ourselves the question, is
recruiting an art or a science?
Recruiting Is an Art
recruiters say that recruiting is really a visceral reaction. "Are this
person's competencies and behaviors consistent with what I am looking for? Do I
think this person will fit in and contribute? Do I identify with this
person?" These are the primary questions that the interview process tries
to answer. Anyone who has ever plowed through a stack of resumes or interviewed
a group of candidates knows that there are several times when you have to
"connect the dots" to find the needle in the haystack.
instance, there are a million ways to write a resume that contains virtually the
same experience. Candidates also have multiple versions of their resumes in
which they hide some types of information and show others, depending on the job
they are applying for or even the company to which they are applying. Job titles
can vary from one company to another. Despite our best efforts to make profiles
skills-based, you are usually still comparing apples to oranges.
the interview process, probing questions lead us to answers that often surprise
us. Experiences or unknown skills emerge during this process that set one
candidate above the rest. This cannot be driven by science or automation —
this is pure human interaction at work.
who argue for recruiting as an art point out also that leadership, creativity,
innovation, and adaptability are the watchwords of the new generation of
successful knowledge-driven companies — and there is no formula that
shows us who will motivate or even inspire a group of individuals at your
in this group will admit that, in customer service and sales roles —
which are high volume, easily quantifiable, and standardized — scientific
selection has its merits. But take one look at and the list below, and you're
reminded of the legalese that accompanies investment opportunities: "past
performance is not always an indication of future success."
notable "connect the dots" candidates any organization would love to
Recruiting Is a Science
the phone, science-lovers everywhere will say. Humans are far too susceptible to
errors in judgment (if you've ever seen Gigli, you'll understand what I'm
cannot rely on gut instinct alone to inform our decisions on who to hire. Why
not? For starters, one gut is different from another is different from another.
If none of these guts are the same, then none of the hiring decisions will be
the same, leading to inconsistent results at best. Where does this leave you?
With the job itself as the proving ground, creating an empirical experiment just
waiting to blow up the laboratory.
all, we can prove to you that science works. Just look at Company X, which, by
applying the principles of scientific selection, has reduced turnover by 25%,
increased productivity by 75%, and decreased ramp-up time by 15% by using
scientific selection and online assessment tools. We have shown no adverse
impact. We can and do actually predict performance within a reasonable level of
companies have chosen to use scientific selection primarily in areas that are
the most easily quantifiable and most standardized, like customer service and
sales. It is more difficult in an environment that is lower volume and has a
diversity of job titles and job skills. But the lessons we've learned in this
area can be applied to any discipline, and interviewers should be armed with the
information that will help them conduct a more thorough interview and make a
more educated gut decision.
the Answer Scientific Selection?
you can see, there are definitely arguments for recruiting as art and science.
Scientific selection tools and practices hold promise and can drive real returns
on investment outside of the fairly narrow scope they've been assigned, but no
one wants to screen out Einstein in the process.
implications on the recruiting industry are indeed fascinating. Will screening
technologies be set up to do a lot of the work that is now assigned to
recruiters, i.e. narrowing down large candidate pools and coaching hiring
managers on the interview process? Will recruiters become active sourcing,
candidate mining, and networking dynamos instead of resume screeners and paper
screening and selection is well on its way to becoming a more integral part of
the recruiting process. How we can use these technologies to our advantage to
aid in selecting the best candidates and making more informed hiring decisions —
without screening out the many anomalies that exist and will exist — now
that will truly be an art.
Dave Lefkow is an interactive solutions consultant for TMP Worldwide in Seattle, Wash. He consults with a host of leading-edge companies to develop and implement effective web-based recruiting strategies, tools, and websites. Dave has been quoted in or contributed to a variety of industry and non-industry publications, including Employment Management Today, SHRM, AIRS, HR.com and the Wall Street Journal. He was recently given a "Future HR Leader" award by Human Capital magazine. TMP Worldwide is a global recruitment advertising, HR communications and technology solutions provider, with offices in 33 countries. The company helps define and execute the employer brands, websites and interactive communications strategies for some of the world's best-known employers.