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By Kristeen Bullwinkle & The Talent Gear Team | August 29, 2017
Your success at hiring will be highly influenced by how well you understand the job you’re trying to fill.
Have you ever had someone call you to find out what position a job posting is really for? I’ve received calls along the lines of “I see it’s called a ‘manager’ but is manager in the title just so you can pay more or does it actually involve managing something or someone?,” “I see it’s an IT job, but it reads more like a project management job,” and “Does the job really require all those certifications or did they just list every credential they could think of?” Job descriptions shouldn’t be confusing, misleading, or inaccurate.
In addition to creating descriptions that reflect the actual job responsibilities, the descriptions need to be unbiased. Using titles like “ninja” or “rock star” are sometimes perceived as a signal that you’re looking for a young white man. Asking for applicants from a “top university” connote a bias towards Ivy League graduates (even if they graduated at the bottom of their class.) If you use the verb “build” which can be seen as masculine, also use “collaborate” which tends to be seen as more feminine. Try different wording to see if this creates differences in your applicant pool.
If you’re listing something as a requirement, be sure that it is indeed required. If a college degree really isn’t necessary, don’t ask for it. If you’re not really sure what “comfortable with fluid structures” means, don’t list it. If “analyst” has several different meanings in your industry, define what you mean. Give applicants an accurate description of the job and help them decide if they should apply or not.
Not sure where to begin with a new job description? Try searching through O*Net for similar positions.
Where are you sourcing your employees? If you’re relying only on referrals, you’re likely to get people who are similar to the other people on your team. If you’re only recruiting from one or two schools, you’re probably not getting a diverse applicant pool.
Resumes provide a limited amount of data about a person, but one that our brains are easily tempted to read more into. Names, schools, previous employers all call into our minds an idea of who a person is and what they are capable of. And these assumptions are often wrong or irrelevant. You might have to get through a stack of resumes quickly and eliminate a large number, but beware of taking mental short cuts while you cull.
Even using resume screening tools or applicant tracking systems can be problematic. How do you distinguish between the good candidate and the mediocre one who has learned how to write for these systems? Or screening systems may filter out talented candidates who didn’t include specific words, but whose accomplishments taken in context would be a good match for the role. These screening programs, however, can assist in “blinding” the process to demographic and socio-economic information which may reduce bias.
Can an applicant do the job? Why not test them? The days of timed typing tests are probably gone, but is there an important skill necessary for doing the job that you can test for? Skill tests can yield important insights that are based on the candidate’s work and not on superficial appearances.
What if the job requires skills not easily tested? You can always use a tool like PXT Select to test for an overview of verbal and mathematic cognitive abilities. It would be useful to know how a person who is successful in that type role scores so that you can find someone who scores similarly - a tool like PXT Select can help with that.
Job applicants expect certain questions to be asked during interviews and can find recommended answers after a simple Google search. You’ll do better if you ask questions tailored to the job. We also know that structured interviews — asking the same questions of each candidate — minimize unconscious bias. You can focus on issues that directly influence one’s performance. Structured interviews also make it much easier to compare candidates against each other.
To further reduce bias, interviewers should not have reviewed the resume or other information. As long as interviewers stick to the structured questions, the interviewers’ ratings can be seen as an independent data point.
What questions should you ask? They should be related to the job and to qualities you desire in an employee. These might include questions more related to personality traits. Some employers use a personality assessment. A tool like PXT Select will provide you with interview questions that are directed to areas of a specific job that might require extra effort from the candidate with a particular personality style. For example, an applicant might score strongly on preferring to work autonomously so you’ll want to ask how they would work in a highly collaborative team. Or your office might be very fast-paced and the personality test shows that the applicant tends toward steadiness. In that case you’ll want to ask how they deal with duties while under time pressure.
An assessment can be an important part of the hiring process, but not the only source of data you should consider. Comparing Everything DiSC to PXT Select.
Helpful tips and reminders to review before interviewing job applicants.