By: Otto Berkes, HireRoad CEO
Humans crave homeostasis. We’ve had precious little of it the past couple of years—but we sometimes forget that things weren’t exactly standing still before the pandemic. In fact, way back in a 2019 Forbes article, author Erika Andersen called for us “to find a new kind of dynamic stability in a state of ongoing change.”
That advice is crucial today in the field of human resources. HR is going through so many changes, all while employees depart, candidates churn and companies feel tremendous pressure to define, design and implement their next normal.
Organizations with an innovation mindset are shifting their hiring processes in constructive ways. They’re on track to find the dynamic stability that’s essential to their well-being.
The speed of hiring is accelerated, but it’s unwise to use that as an excuse to brush past the importance of cultural fit. In fact, defining and communicating your culture to prospective employees is now more important than ever.
Workers learned a lot about themselves during the pandemic and the “Great Resignation.” Many gained new skills and knowledge that fit well within a resume and are easy to sort using skills-based job specs. But workers also had time to focus on other aspects of their life and work. As a result, they’re placing a much greater emphasis on soft skills and embracing values-based recruitment.
While you’re trying to figure out workers’ characteristics to determine whether they’re a match, they’re trying to figure out the same about your company. Savvy candidates will flip techniques (paywall) like behavioral interviewing or values-focused interviewing back on the organization, trying to establish a richer two-way dialogue and gain a better understanding of what the organization is about. While this may be unsettling for seasoned interviewers who are used to asking most of the questions, it’s a good thing because a good fit works in both directions.
The techniques needed to identify the personality traits and interpersonal behaviors that will help candidates succeed require a robust applicant tracking system. Ideally, you’ll be able to unearth hidden gems that might have gone unnoticed using traditional screening and interviewing strategies or uncover flaws in your existing hiring processes.
In my view, this shift in focus is a refreshing change—and HR technology is ready and waiting to help companies reframe their application process. For example, a forward-looking ATS will offer capabilities like screening questions, situational judgment tests, values-based questions and self-service video screening.
Importantly, these are not part of the interview process; they’re elements of the application. They add life to a flat resume, allowing candidates to seem more like “real” people. At my company, for instance, I’m very interested in hiring people who demonstrate curiosity and are not afraid to fail. We can explore that during the interview process…but it saves time if we can generate some of those insights during applicant screening.
Cutting To The Chase
Consider some of the questions you might want to explore with a candidate during the application stage.
- “What is it about our company that interests you?” This can be especially useful if a candidate is making an unexpected career move such as exiting a large company for a small one or changing industries completely.
- “What characteristics do you value in an organization?” If your company is in a growth phase and the candidate mentions stability, or if you’re in a mature phase and they mention a need for speed, it may not be a good fit.
- “What alignment do you see with your personal values and our company’s values?” Candidates will have thought about their own values already. Hopefully, they will have formulated yours as well. This prompts them to consider the alignment themselves, so you don’t have to.
- “What’s important to you in a work environment?” If you’re able to offer flexibility to match their preferences, great. If not, this can be a warning sign of a lack of cultural fit.
- “What’s your approach to problem-solving?” This is often framed as a specific scenario related to the job for which a candidate has applied—for example, a complex sale, challenging customer request or disengaged employee—but it could also be more general if you’re more focused on hiring for potential, not past performance.
- “What’s a time you failed, and what did you learn?” This is a common live interview question, of course, but asking it as part of the application process instead gives you a sneak peek into candidates’ accountability and orientation to continual learning. The incident is less important than the manner in which they reflect upon it
The pace of change is not going to slow down to allow humans to catch up and spend time in our comfort zones. But we can learn to embrace it—and the tools that will help us manage it.