Is employee hiring better left to the machines?

Are machines more capable of screening new employees than human managers? A lot of organizations think so. But a good match takes something more than technology.

Are machines more capable of screening new employees than human managers? A lot of organizations think so. But a good match takes something more than technology.

Photo credit: Joe McKendrick

Solutions on the market are capable of predicting matches between prospects and employers, via video games and online questionnaires, according to a Bloomberg report. Such compatibility testing is now being applied for a range of jobs, from retail clerks to investment bankers.

In some cases, gaming is being employed to assess a candidate's personality and match to job openings. Erik Juhl, head of talent at Vungle Inc., a San Francisco-based video advertising startup, is employing a video game that puts candidates in the role of a harried waiter in a virtual restaurant. The game, called "Wasabi Waiter," will "track, record and analyze every millisecond of its players’ behavior," the article notes. The online game, developed by a company called Knack, "places job-seekers in the shoes of a sushi server who must identify the mood of his cartoon customers and bring them the dish labeled with the matching emotion. On a running clock, they must also clear empty dishes into the sink while tending to new customers who take a seat at the bar."

A solution from another vendor, Evolv, offers an online questionnaire that analyzes applicants' responses based on self-learning algorithms that measure responses against long-term success rates of previous hires.

However, some observers advise caution in relying too much on software for screening candidates, as documented by Time's Peter Cappelli:

"Some requirements, such as possessing credentials, are easy to write into software, but others, like the ability to get along with customers, are not, and may require many questions even to get close to an accurate response. And even then, the software might be identifying the wrong qualities actually needed for the vacant position. Tom Keebler at the HR consulting firm Towers Watson, who advises employers about hiring systems, says even well-intentioned hiring managers have a problem trying to identify skills that are not easily associated with credentials or experience."

With just about all resumes and applications now in digital formats, there's a huge amount of data that can be processed and analyzed to expedite the hiring process. Many companies employing this software are reporting more success in retaining qualified employees for longer terms. But the ability to build and maintain a motivated group of employees who are passionate about their work depends on corporate culture -- not on having the latest whiz-bang technology. If a company encourages innovation and has forward-looking management, both the company and employees will grow with the challenge. Technology alone can't make this happen -- it's merely a tool.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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