How to structure inclusive candidate experience

In the battle for talent, recruitment practices are under intense scrutiny. Experts believe that following a blueprint for candidate interviews could be the key to effective, efficient, and fair interview processes
Eee Sr Client Shl

Dubbed the year of the Great Resignation, 2022 has seen talent pool power dynamics take a mighty swing in candidates’ favour. According to Deloitte, CEOs are now ranking skills and labour shortages as the top external issue anticipated to disrupt enterprise strategy next year.

High numbers of vacancies, increased pressure on pay, and new expectations around hybrid or remote working arrangements have given job seekers the upper hand. Candidates want to be inspired to join a company with the promise of career mobility based on personal goals, skills and motivators. They want to align with the organisation’s culture, values, and brand. Interview processes are now more than ever a reflection of how a business operates, and a poor candidate experience can tip candidates off to wider organisational faults.

Younger candidates are vocal; they’re going to talk about a bad experience, further damaging your ability to attract good candidates

SHL, the global leader in HR technology and psychometric science, offers experience-driven solutions designed to keep candidates engaged throughout the interview process. Over the past two years, it has helped conduct over 600,000 digital interviews. The company’s innovation hub, SHL Labs, analysed a sample of recorded sessions using conversational AI technologies, revealing that at least 80% of interviewers are making critical mistakes. For example, 41% of interviewers failed to properly introduce themselves, while 26% turned their cameras off during online interviews. The study exposes some significant pain points likely to drive a poor candidate experience.

Key among them was a failure to standardise interview questions.Most interviewers are still working on gut feeling, resulting in a lot of inherent unconscious bias,” says Dr Kuldeep Yadav, Director of AI at SHL. Establishing a well-supported line of questioning and evaluation that is uniform across candidates is imperative from the perspectives of effectiveness, efficiency, fairness and inclusivity. Yadav continues: “You can use AI technology to find out whether the interview really followed the structure or not.” Psychometrically, structured interviews are better predictors of job performance and provide the interviewer with clarity and scope for comparison while delivering a more seamless candidate experience.

“When you’re designing the structure, you want to align your questions around competencies that are required for the job,” SHL’s chief science officer, Dr Sara Gutierrez explains. “By structuring the process, you ensure each candidate has equal ability to exhibit their capabilities, which will hopefully drive down the unconscious bias that can creep in through more unstructured conversations.”

By implementing best practices, rooting out biases and centring accountability, employers could see an uptick in new hires across all backgrounds. SHL Labs’ recent whitepaper, ‘Assessing Neurodiverse Talent’, brings to light the unique challenges that neurodiverse jobseekers face, despite making up 15-20% of the population. Failing to accommodate this group could see organisations cutting off a substantial portion of their talent pool.

A report from the University of Connecticut found that unemployment for neurodivergent people in the US stands at 30-40%, eight times higher than for people without a neurological condition.

Gutierrez believes that businesses should start by fostering an atmosphere where candidates feel included from the get-go. She says: “From the organisation’s perspective, we need to create positive and inclusive language around disclosing a neurodivergent condition so that candidates who need accommodation feel comfortable saying, ‘this is what I need’.” This can be achieved by drawing on the experience of neurodiverse people already within the organisation or those flowing through the hiring pipeline. By implementing small changes businesses can prevent good candidates from opting out of the process.

Both believe quicker processes will please Gen Z workers too. “Younger candidates are vocal; they’re going to talk about a bad experience, further damaging your ability to attract good candidates,” says Yadav. In addition, asking candidates to commit to rounds upon rounds of interviews is going out of Vogue as younger generations expect more efficient decision-making from potential employers.

Today’s candidates expect an effective and fair interview process that reflects the values of the organisation they seek to join. They want an experience that feels fresh, intuitive, and unique and that showcases the company culture with clear and honest communication at every step.

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