Why candidate potential is key in volume hiring

A recent Arctic Shores session at HR Grapevine's Talent Acquisition Meetup explored what many businesses are getting wrong in volume hiring, and why your business should think differently...

Words by Kieran Howells

 

In late September, leaders from the recruitment space, along with HR, gathered in central London to discuss the pressing issues facing talent acquisition. In the shifting world of work, and in the midst of an acute talent crisis that shows no signs of slowing, leaders from across the industry took part in a series of panels, aimed at helping businesses level up their plans, and perhaps think about talent acquisition differently.

Among those leading the way in this sector, and providing businesses with the tools they need to strive in a very different era of talent management is Arctic Shores. The firm, which specialises in behaviour-based assessment, sees the likes of the BBC, PwC and Capita among its clients. Luckily for attendees, Arctic Shores’ CEO and founder, Robert Newry, was on-hand, along with Charles Rue, the Head of Recruitment, Ratings & ESG at S&P Global, and Janine Garn Head of Talent Acquisition, Diversity, and Inclusion at Leyton.

The trio of experts delved into the complexities of the volume hiring process, and specifically how businesses with volume hiring needs can ensure that they thrive in the uncertain future that lays ahead.

Kicking off the panel, Newry offered a mission statement on Arctic Shores’ top priorities in hiring. “We want to see a world of work in which potential matters as much as experience and skills,” he said. “However, clearly, we have to do a lot of work around the definition of potential. In our minds, that’s a mix of soft skills - although we prefer to call them human skills – and cognitive workplace intelligence. Combine those two things together, and you have a measure of somebody’s capabilities in performing their role.”

 

Newry then turned his attention to the core issues currently being faced in the space. “With regards to volume hiring, there are three key things I believe people are wrestling with. The first is efficiency, and that’s what most people spend their time thinking about. Then you have effectiveness, and candidate experience. All three are essential, but most people simply focus on efficiency.”

“I totally agree with you,” added Rue. “I think many big companies have realised now that it’s not all about your cost-effectiveness. It’s about quality of hire; it’s about how those hires have really progressed within the organisation. Five or ten years ago, companies were looking at the industrialisation of talent. Now, we’re looking at companies using state-of-the-art assessment to really get a feel for who candidates are beyond traditional interviewing techniques.”

Garn added that, as a client of Arctic Shores, her organisation has done a lot of work to ensure that it remains cognizant of new and improved hiring practices. “We’re keen to ensure that we’re not becoming complacent in our practices, given that we’re generally always hiring for similar roles in the organisation. We’ve done a lot of work on screening in candidates, rather than screening out. You have to have an ear to the future, and our conversations with Arctic Shores are about futureproofing our workforce. We know what we need today, but what are we going to need in the future?”

 

The conversation then turned to the delicate balance between an efficient hiring process, and ensuring that the talent you hire is well placed in the role. “This is such an important issue,” Newry stated. “The answer for me, comes back to sifting in candidates, rather than sifting out. To be successful, what you want is to find the people, out of all of those thousands of applicants who are applying, who are going to be successful within your organisation, and have longevity. Those are the people we should be bringing forward. Do they have the capabilities? Do they have learning agility? Are they curious? These are the values that should be really important to you.”

“A point I’d like to add, is that the key question here should be, what does the right candidate look like?” added Garn. “What I’ve seen in many organisations is confirmation bias. That there is a singular persona capable of doing the job. In TA, that means you’re looking for that persona over and over again. Working with someone like Arctic Shores allows you to instead focus on what good looks like, rather than a specific persona. This enables a very different conversation,” she added.

Newry was quick to agree, stating that fundamentally, this issue plagues the talent acquisition space. “So many organisations are solely concerned with how many people applied to their open positions, and whether it was more than their rivals, rather than who those people are.” He concluded that, this system needs to be reversed. “It’s the bottom of the funnel that matters. What we need to do is ask those important questions that Janine mentioned. If 1000 people apply but none of them are going to thrive in your organisation, then you’re not going to be successful.”

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