Handling the Surge

by Jason Griffin, VP Talent Solutions.  Tue 15 Sep 20

While many of our largest clients are seeing an increase in hiring due to market demands, others have put a pause on hiring, furloughed employees, and closed out their open requisitions. Most people sense that the economy will come roaring back – when that happens, how will you handle the surge in applicants? Below we explore three ideas that can help you prepare now to be ready for a surge in applicants.


Managing the Flow

Typically the flow of applicants is like a light-dimmer – a gradual change that provides you some lead time to adjust your processes and hiring funnel. However, once the economy awakens, we expect it may be more like an on/off switch with a rapid surge of applicants. When applicant volumes are high, we typically recommend placing a short prescreening tool near the top of the recruitment funnel to serve as an automated solution for screening out applicants who are unlikely to be a good fit with your organization.  This type of solution can be leveraged as a stand-alone pre-employment test or serve as an initial hurdle before candidates complete a technical or job-specific assessment process. When the surge occurs, it will also be important to make sure the “gates” in your hiring funnel are properly calibrated and are presented via a seamless candidate process that adheres to best practice guidelines and leverages available technologies. A few gates to consider – What % need to self-select out? What % need to pass the first automated screen? What % need to meet an assessment cut-score? And what % need to interview well? We recommend collecting data now, forecasting for a surge, modeling the demographic makeup at each stage, evaluating adverse impact ratios, and being prepared to configure your gates in advance.


Self-selection with RJP

The realistic job preview (RJP) communicates a job relevant “day in the life” to candidates by sharing an authentic view into a role, functional area, and company. Research shows that having “unmet expectations” in a new job cause 4% of new hires to leave on their first day and another 50% to quit within 6 months based on work by Leigh Branham. The cost incurred for this can be astounding, but addressable with RJPs. And they are effective – meta-analysis from 11 studies showed that turnover reduced 6 percentage points when using an RJP. Another study found RJP recipients were more likely to self-select, had improved job satisfaction, and viewed their employer as more “honest.” The RJP can be presented seamlessly during the application and online assessment process, and the resulting self-selection can help manage an applicant surge, while providing on the job benefits as well – a win-win.


Optimize Culture in the Screening Process

Effectively and efficiently screening for Cultural Dynamics during the surge can help optimize individual and organizational performance, as well as supporting your organization’s ability to adapt and thrive in the face of constant change. A 2018 study of 1,220 global talent and business leaders found there is a direct correlation between the strategies used for acquiring talent and business performance. More specifically, the study found that “companies with high-maturity talent acquisition functions exhibit 18% higher revenue and 30% greater profitability compared to companies with low-maturity talent acquisition performance.” One of the characteristics of highly mature talent acquisition functions mentioned in the study is they target work ethic, values, and potential as much as past experience and skills in the hiring process. In fact, 90% of high performing talent acquisition functions use workplace values as a basis for hiring (compared to just 35% of low performing TA functions), which results in new hires that adapt easily to and reinforce a strong company culture.


Automating the Interview

A number of technology providers offer platforms for automating the interview process – this can help you scale to meet demand, make interviewing consistent, create an interview record, and improve scoring methods (just hit “rewind” if you aren’t sure what was said). A word of caution – these systems are only as good as the interview content that goes inside of them. Be sure that the questions reflect the experience, skills, and competencies relevant to the job – or you may find yourself in hot water. So, how do you score an automated interview? We recommend identifying the behaviors and proficiency levels needed for each competency, and then building a behavioral checklist for each question. In the end, technology and content will improve your process together and should provide a more valid and defensible process.

Do you have a tough question you are wrestling with?

Please let us know, and we may include it in future installments of this series coming to your inbox soon.  In the meantime, we invite you to review the Tailored Assessment Solutions that are as Unique as Your Talent brochure, to learn more about how tailored assessment solutions can create unique and engaging experiences for candidates and employees during the anticipated applicant surge.