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August 8, 2013

Hiring Virtual: Why Old Fashioned HR Doesn’t Work in the Digital World

In 2009, Forrester released a research report stating that (much to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s chagrin), “telecommuting will rise to include 43 percent of U.S. workers by 2016.” This trend is not going away. Beyond encouraging positive brand recognition and a more efficient process, organizations can elevate their hiring process to find top performers for both in-house and telecommuting positions by forgoing the traditional, and often lackadaisical, talent selection process altogether.

A recent article in the New York Times entitled, Online Hiring Tools Are Changing Recruiting Techniquesoutlines how many companies are taking a different, and more efficient, approach to traditional hiring processes. The article touts the use of online tools, such as LinkedIn and Indeed, and the use of predictive HR technology as a viable alternative.

 “Old-Fashioned” Hiring Process Versus New Age

Old-fashioned hiring processes usually commence with a pile of decent looking resumés, an interview process with poorly constructed, non-tailored interview questions, haphazard reference checks and, finally, a hire. The trouble with this process is that it’s subjective; usually based on “gut feeling” rather than logical, proven evidence.  It’s also unstructured; despite being interviewed for the same position, different questions are used for different candidates, and few of the questions actually gain much insight anyhow.

A 2012 employer survey conducted by Careerbuilder.com revealed that, “69 percent of employers reported that their companies have been adversely affected by a bad hire this year, with 41 percent of those businesses estimating the cost to be over $25,000. Twenty-four percent said a bad hire cost them more than $50,000.” These are jarring statistics that could be avoided if a firm were to employ a more structured and succinct hiring process from the initial point of contact all the way to the offer letter and beyond.

Build and Leverage a Benchmark

Conducting a more effective talent search starts before a candidate even enters the funnel. Utilizing behavioral science to understand the job requirements, organizations should develop a job profile that clearly defines the personality traits and competencies required for a candidate to excel.

For example, someone applying for a job as an accountant would need a different skill set than a candidate applying for a job as a customer service representative. Better yet, someone who plans to telecommute needs a different set of disciplines and traits than someone in-house — even if the position title is exactly the same. Establishing succinct job profiles as the basis for all applicant screening allows hiring managers to filter candidates in an objective, job-relevant way.

In addition to building job frameworks, companies should take into consideration how a candidate would do within a company’s culture.  However, for a telecommuting position, it’s important to account for the variation in organizational culture prominence and proximity.

Pre-screening a potential employee based on these criteria shifts the paradigm from subjective to objective. Many companies are using automated assessment software to accurately and efficiently refine their candidate funnel, saving companies thousands of dollars in both hard and soft costs.

Technology Begets the Technologically Savvy

In addition to assisting organizations in finding more qualified candidates, utilizing an iron clad technologically and psychologically based process models to potential employees — especially telecommuters — that the company is cutting edge. This is especially appealing to top performing virtual employees who are looking for assurance that prospective employers truly do embrace technology.

Predictive, technology-based hiring also works as a positive brand ambassador on behalf of the company. What job candidate wants to go to an awkward interview where they are asked questions that don’t even apply to the job, be unfairly compared to other candidates based on uncontrolled and subjective variables and then chosen by “chance” at the end of the clunky process? A streamlined process works to promote a company brand while instilling the desire within the candidate to actually want to work there.

Tailoring the Technology to Find the Right Fit

As mentioned earlier in the article, understanding what traits make someone more successful in a job role is most of the battle. An in-house employee will need to possess different strengths than a telecommuter. Even if an organization is employing a more modern hiring approach, they often miss the mark because they use the same criteria for each position.

So, how can a company leverage technology to better define and predict the perfect candidate? Use predictive technology to ensure a candidate who seems like a good fit, actually is. Assessing key competencies using behavioral based questions focused on disposition, productivity, cultural fit, growth potential and retention within the particular job role will save companies from making a poor hiring decision, whether in-house or virtual.

By using a mix of predictive technology, hiring managers can rest assured the organization won’t become another statistic by hiring a seemingly good telecommuting employee. The digital process will help companies find top performers, strengthen the brand and take most, if not all, of the variables out of hiring.


Greg Moran is the founder and CEO of Chequed.com, the leading provider of cloud-based predictive talent selection™ solutions. In addition to authoring two books, Greg has contributed his thought leadership regarding human capital management and pre-hire testing to national publications including BusinessWeek, INC Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. Follow him on Twitter @CEOofChequed.

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