PUREs and how to stop them

Almost simultaneously last week, Wowzer, Silkroad, and Nobscot all announced new capabilities to help companies in their War for Talent. Wowzer now has a Match functionality to go with its video interviewing, and SilkRoad has teamed with Nobscot to better understand why people leave companies, especially those who leave shortly after joining the company.

Preventing recruiting mistakes in the first place

Previously undetected recruiting errors (PUREs) have bedevilled employers forever. I've hired some and yet I'm one of the most inquisitive and discerning employers you'd ever have the opportunity to meet. I really want to know a candidate, at a deep level, as I abhor negative surprises at a later date. Those kind of surprises are costly and not a lot of fun for the employee or employer.

Over the years, I've gotten better at spotting future problem situations, but I haven't cracked the code to totally eliminate them. Technology may never help us eliminate these mismatches altogether, but it could help us get closer to the ideal target.

Two announcements last week put this issue back on the front burner. One of these came from Wowzer and the other from a joint deal involving SilkRoad and Nobscot. Each of these is tackling the problem of improving the recruiting process, but they've each got a unique slant on the matter.

Let's start with the Wowzer bit first.

I've been a fan of video interviewing for some time. I've written several pieces about some of the players in this space, like HireVue, Montage , Async, and Wowzer.

Last week, I did a call with Rodrigo Martinez, CEO and co-founder of Wowzer. Rodrigo wanted to tell me about its new Match technology that is a companion to it video interviewing solution. Typical video interviewing technology usually has a process like this:

  • A candidate gets an email to participate in a video interview

  • Once logged on, the candidate gets a bit of time to formulate an answer to a question. Most of the questions are pre-determined and are often the same for an entire group of candidates.

  • The candidate then looks into their web cam to record the best pitch they can muster. Their response is generally limited in duration, with most responses coming in at under 3 minutes.

  • Once all candidates' responses have been received, a recruiting or operational leader peruses the videos, in whole or part, to winnow the long list of candidates to a couple of folks they want to meet further and in person.

While this process can be great for some hiring situations, it can be a bit off-putting to some candidates. What candidates can face is a double standard, where the company's leaders or HR personnel will not appear on-camera, but the candidate must. Worse, the company has an opportunity to create an employment brand with this technology, and it doesn't. Without some humanizing video to show the jobseeker what the job could be like, what the culture of the firm is, etc, the candidate is left guessing. Worse, the candidate has already developed an ugly taste about the employer and may terminate the interviewing process early. Some of the best possible talent may walk before the initial video interview is completed.

Rodrigo and I moved the conversation to a list of factors that change the interview dynamic to become more successful. These factors included:

  • Bringing authenticity to the interviewing process: If your recruiting videos or collateral feel like a cheerleading rally, they're probably perceived as a joke. If the content doesn't come across as genuine, real, and authentic, it's not doing any good. Quit hiring camera-friendly models for these videos and get real employees instead. Nobody wants to work with a bunch of fakers.

  • Make the process one where employers learn about the candidates and vice versa: This sounds easy, but it's really quite hard to pull off successfully. If your firm has bosses/executives that refuse to be involved in recruiting until the very last step, you've got a problem. Honestly, who'd want to blindly work for a firm where you've never met your future boss? One of the largest, if not the largest, reasons why people leave their jobs is because of their boss. If the boss is narcissist, maniac, milquetoast, paranoid, or some other manifestation of evil, the candidate needs to know ASAP. Quit hiring people that the future boss will drive away anyway.

  • Show the real work environment: Sure, it's great that your firm has this beautiful headquarters building in downtown Manhattan. But if this potential worker will only see the insides of the 45-year-old plant in rural Texas, why are you showing them something they'll never see or experience? It's deceptive, cruel, or stupid – take your pick.

  • Make video part of every aspect of recruiting (not just for screening): Sure, you can limit video if you want, but, I'd suggest that's a fool's errand. Get your entire team involved in showing the full context of the company, the job, the bosses, and the future opportunity.

The folks at Nobscot Corporation and SilkRoad are coming at the problem from a different angle. SilkRoad will marry its Talent Management on-boarding solution with Nobscot's FirstDays new hire and quality-of-hire surveys.

In their combined approach, SilkRoad and Nobscot are using surveys of recently departed and recently hired personnel to identify causal factors that trigger employee attrition. Given all of the hand wringing of late about the War for Talent, we should see some interest for such a solution, so that companies can hang onto their best and brightest talent.

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SilkRoad booth at recent HR Technology show. Image: Copyright 2012 TechVentive, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Nobscot's FirstDays surveys zero in on the causes of "quick quits" — those factors that trigger a person to leave a new job within the first 90 days. Any manager that has had someone quit in that short of a time period needs to do some serious reassessing of their recruiting processes, work environment, and themselves to understand what's behind their hiring PURE situation.

The value in this combined solution comes from helping firms to improve their on-boarding process. It can also highlight information gaps and misunderstandings found in an on-boarding portal. Longer term, the combination should help companies pinpoint causes for employee dissatisfaction (including cultural and supervisory issues), more clearly set worker expectations, identify needed training and improve retention.

PUREs are very expensive to companies. And they often reflect problems in the managerial, recruiting and/or people in the firm. Solve your firm's PURE problem, and the savings will go straight to the bottom line.