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Fixing the Candidate Experience Journey With Kevin Grossman

Today on Science 4-Hire, I’m joined by none other than Kevin Grossman, president and board member at Talent Board and expert on all things candidate experience. Every year, Grossman leads Talent Board’s benchmark research to identify trends and best practices in what makes a good candidate experience journey.

Talent Board is a nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding what makes or breaks the candidate experience. The organization’s flagship annual report evaluates candidate experience in four international regions, including North America.

Over the 10+ years Talent Board has been conducting research on the candidate experience, a few trends are constant. What makes a great candidate experience? There are three essential elements: Sending timely rejections with a clear timeline, providing consistent communication and offering feedback.

“Every single year, those things, no matter what the world looks like — pandemic, no pandemic, merger/acquisition activity — it doesn’t matter,” Kevin says. “Those are the things that again, are always the same. Always.”

If you’re interested in learning more about what employers should do to improve the candidate experience, and how these things apply to talent assessment, listen to my conversation with Kevin Grossman.

Candidates Want a Fair Shot

The No. 1 factor in a good candidate experience is showing applicants that they’re being assessed fairly. Of course, anyone who applies for a job hopes to be hired, but we know that isn’t realistic.

“So, considering that most don’t,” Grossman says, “the second-best thing that they want is to feel like it was positive and fair.”

If candidates don’t feel like their application was treated fairly, they’re more likely to sever ties with that organization, Talent Board’s research has found time and again. And most companies can’t afford to lose that talent, especially since “we’ve been in a very volatile competitive candidate market … even with the bizarre global economy that we’re in right now,” Grossman says.

How do you communicate a fair hiring process to candidates? It comes back to those three key factors: a clear hiring timeline, consistent communication and feedback.

A Quick Rejection Stings Less

Communication has always been an important part of a good candidate experience journey. But because most applicants won’t get the job, an automated response is usually sufficient at the application stage. At that stage, you just want to tell people whether they’re in the running. If not, candidates want to know quickly so they move on.

Talent Board’s research has found that companies shouldn’t wait on telling candidates when they aren’t qualified. “Companies usually get some of that blocking and tackling right,” Grossman says, “but the problem then is, how soon and how timely is it after they’ve applied?”

For most organizations, it’s not very timely. “Nearly 50% of the candidates who had applied told us that they’re still waiting to hear back after one to two-plus months,” Grossman says.

A lot of companies either don’t communicate updates to candidates or wait until they’ve closed the requisition (which could be months). Companies with a best-in-class candidate experience, on the other hand? “The highest-rated companies … are doing that within three to five days,” Grossman says.

That’s a big difference-maker in candidate experience.

AI Can Fill Communication Gaps

Talent Board’s research shows that forward-thinking companies are investing in communication technology to keep candidates in the loop. Automated notifications about a candidate’s application status provide clarity and reassurance for candidates.

“One of the other takeaways from this year — and it’s been a trend that we’ve seen actually, too — is that conversational AI and texting … are definitely becoming more and more beneficial to employers as it relates to communicating with candidates,” Grossman says.

Communication tech gives employers control over message content, format and frequency, allowing them to customize communication to meet the needs of their candidate population. But most companies don’t take advantage, Grossman says. Something as simple as personalizing a template can go a long way in improving the candidate experience journey.

In these candidate interactions, conversational AI isn’t replacing real human interaction in most cases. Businesses are adding AI where there’d otherwise be no communication.

AI communication “can result in positive sentiment, and higher levels of perceived fairness,” Grossman says. An AI-generated text that engages with a candidate or delivers an update will always be preferable to silence.

People Want to Know Where They Stand

The final component of a good candidate experience is feedback to candidates and asking for it. It turns out that when candidates are rejected at a later stage (following the interview, for example), they want to know why.

“That is one of the biggest differentiators every year, especially for the final-stage interview folks, because that is not something that [many] companies are comfortable doing,” Grossman says.

Companies don’t have to give extensive feedback to gain this benefit. Something as simple as a brief job-fit qualification can do the trick. When it comes to assessment feedback, sharing results in a positive way gives candidates information about themselves that has value outside of any one particular job application.

Unfortunately, providing candidates with feedback from the assessment process almost never happens. This is driven by a fear of legal ramifications, especially from those who aren’t hired. But assessment feedback does not have to create risk. Providing developmental feedback that focuses on positive factors that can help candidates learn more about their strengths can be an asset to your employment brand, not a legal liability. Assessments can take additional time in the hiring process, Grossman says, so sharing results can turn that time into additional value.

“Whether it’s direct feedback after the interview or direct feedback after an assessment or screening, those things go a long way with candidates,” Grossman says.

Finally, asking candidates for feedback on the hiring process and their experience is also important. That signals that you believe their experience is worth investing in.

The key to a good candidate experience is to create a hiring process that’s fair, engaging and incorporates two-way feedback. With these elements in place, your company can build long-term relationships with top talent, even if you don’t hire them the first time around.

People in This Episode

Catch Kevin Grossman on LinkedIn and over at Talent Board for his latest research.

Read the Transcript

Announcer:

Welcome to Science 4-Hire with your host, Dr. Charles Handler. Hiring is hard. Pre-hire talent assessments can help you ease the pain. Whether you don’t know where to start or you just want to stay on top of the trends, Science 4-Hire provides 30 minutes of enlightenment on best practices and news from the front lines of the employment testing universe. So get ready to learn as Dr. Charles Handler and his all-star guests blend old-school knowledge with new-wave technology to educate and inform you about all things talent assessment.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of Science 4-Hire. I am your host, Dr. Charles Handler, and my guest today is none other than the esteemed Kevin Gross man of the Talent Board. Welcome, Kevin. How’re you doing?

Kevin Grossman:

Charles, I am doing well. How about yourself?

Dr. Charles Handler:

I am doing well, and I am excited to talk to you today about the latest Talent Board candidate experience research, because this is, in my mind, one of the very most important topics for anyone in talent acquisition in hiring. And even if you’re the CEO of a company, you need to know about candidate experience and why it is so valuable to your organization.

So we’re real excited today to have you talk to us about your latest research study, which is not out quite yet, but everybody’s on the edge of their seats waiting for it. At least, I am. Because every year it’s one of my favorite reads.

So, tell us a little bit about the Talent Board and your position there, and let our listeners know who you are and where you’re at.

Kevin Grossman:

Sure. Thanks, Charles. So I am, again, Kevin Grossman, president of Talent Board and the Candidate Experience Awards. So we are an educational nonprofit, and we’ve been doing benchmark research around recruiting, hiring — specifically the candidate experience — going on over 11 years. Next year will be our 12th year in 2023.

And yes, we are wrapping up doing, finishing our analysis and write-ups for this year’s research that will —. some of which will be squeaking out before the holidays. And then right after this time, the full reports will be available. But North America first, followed by shorter briefs for the other regions that we do EMEA, APAC and Latin America, as well.

And every year, a couple hundred companies help participate in our benchmark research and survey populations of their candidates and — from pre-application to onboarding. And then we share with the industry what we see, what are the insights, the trends, and what’s new, what’s never going to be new and will always be the same, year after year-

Dr. Charles Handler:

Right, right, right.

Kevin Grossman:

Some things that we have been harping on for a long time. And so that’s what we do.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, well you all have been doing it for a long time, and I’ve been following for years what you’re doing. And you could do it forever, fortunately or unfortunately, just because I think candidate experience is such a rough thing for the candidate out there. It’s not necessarily as easy as it should be. And I think research like this at least helps companies understand what they should be doing. And we wish more of them would listen, probably. But all we can do is provide the information and provide the energy around how important it is.

Kevin Grossman:

Correct.

Dr. Charles Handler:

I guess I, before we talk about what’s new this year, if you just aggregate everything you’ve been involved with and done since you’ve been doing this. What are the key pillars that candidate experience really stands on? What are the things that are most important for our listeners to know as a framework before we drill into some more?

Kevin Grossman:

Sure. I’ll say it with a little tongue in cheek, but it’s kind of also a place where I’ve come to.

So every year we are asked, I’m asked what is new and fresh about candidate experience, and the way I respond now, “Absolutely nothing.” Absolutely nothing, right?

And I say that, and I joke, and I’m a grumpy old man standing on my porch in a robe telling you to get off my lawn because we’ve been saying the same thing. But the key pillar differentiators every year always revolve around communication and feedback. Always.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yes.

Kevin Grossman:

Always, every single year, no matter what you do, no matter what your tech stack looks like, no matter what your processes, your people, how big your team is or how small it is, it doesn’t matter. The key differentiator is timely, consistent communication and feedback. Asking for feedback, giving feedback to finalists every single year. Those things, no matter what the world looks like, pandemic, no pandemic, merger/acquisition activity, it doesn’t matter. Those are the things that, again, are always the same. Always.

Dr. Charles Handler:

They’re immutable truths about how humans want to be treated. I always think about it as the golden rule. You treat others how you want to be treated, who likes people not giving them feedback, who likes putting themselves out there and saying, “Hey, look at me, maybe I’m good for your job,” and then just hearing nothing, right? It’s not a good look at all.

And we know that. It’s just, there’s some complexities about doing it right. It’s not like, oh, you just oh, changing your shirt and all of a sudden it’s an easy five-minute thing and you’re transformed.

Kevin Grossman:

Correct.

Dr. Charles Handler:

It takes a lot of work, but it’s worth it. I mean, the ROI on it is likely huge. So that was a good answer. But then I’m going to ask you what’s new this year? Are you going to tell me nothing? I mean, is there anything?

Kevin Grossman:

No, no, I won’t, Charles, I won’t tell you that. I promise.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Okay, good.

Kevin Grossman:

Even after… Because I mean there are things that we do see every year that are interesting and new. And plus the fact that we have, we’re diving in deeper than every year. I mean, as we mature as a research organization — when the program first started, I wasn’t one of the co-founders, but I was one of the early volunteers. And at the time it was very volunteer-driven. It was very — let’s get a little, some survey results and then write them up and release this white paper, is what we used to call it.

And I think over the years, especially the — I would say the past five in particular — we’ve really done a better job of doing the analysis and writing up what we find and sharing it. So for example, some of the key takeaways for this year, primarily focused North America, although some of this is global in scope, too — which we do have some good data sets in the other regions. But just to be clear, I’m going to be focusing mostly on North America for this interview right now.

So candidate resentment is up — actually, speaking of globally, around the world. So what I mean by that is there’s one of the key questions that we ask is “how likely are you to change your relationship with us, the employer, based on your experience?” And one of the answers in that question is, “I had a really poor experience, I’m done. I don’t want to do anything else with you. I will sever the relationship.”

And again, what we’re talking about most of the time are whether or not they ever apply again, whether or not they ever refer, whether or not they make purchases, if you’re a consumer-based business. Not going to be the same for B2B companies, but referrals are the universal — and just having brand affinity in general.

And most of the candidates in our research year after year, like real life, don’t get hired.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, you can’t hire everybody who applies, right? I mean there’s never. Even in talent shortages.

Kevin Grossman:

I mean, again, certain job types and positions, you may be hiring multiple people for roles. But again, for any given job, most of the people for any given job are not getting the job. And that’s all that candidates want at the end of the day, is getting the job.

So considering that most don’t, the second-best thing that they want is to feel like it was positive and fair. That can be very subjective. And we know that angry candidates can get visceral and be very subjective in how they viewed what happened. But our data still shows us overall that unfortunately, resentment is up globally. And it is, even though it’s down a little bit in North America, went from 14 to 12% of the candidates saying that they’re done, it’s up everywhere else.

So that’s kind of the first thing. And it does make a difference. I mean this is the part we try to emphasize as the business impact part of — for those that are willing to take their business, quote-unquote, their job business elsewhere for candidates.

And we’ve been in a very volatile competitive candidate market. And even with the bizarre global economy that we’re in right now — it’s like, it’s strong and it’s not, it’s strong and it’s not — but it is still with the exception of maybe tech. Although those layoffs though, based on what I’ve been reading in tech, are still at historically low levels compared to what —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yes.

Kevin Grossman:

Right?

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. And look, this is how I look at it. And I might just, because it’s my business as it’s your business. Hiring’s never going to go away, though. I mean the idea that you just don’t hire — even when you lay people off, I mean unfortunately we’ve had clients that are laying people off, but they’re still ramping up assessments, because they’re still hiring and they have jobs to fill, or they’re expanding or transforming or whatever it is. So the idea that hiring’s just going to stop is not a tenable idea.

And anytime there’s hiring, there’s a candidate experience. And so, it’s valuable. Companies aren’t laying off their entire talent acquisition teams, right? I mean they’re still keeping those doors open. So we know that it’s important.

So I agree. And again, it’s just basic psychology. There’s a lot of stuff in the type of things I study that look at things like a psychological contract with an employer or organizational commitment, organizational affiliation. There’s a lot of things that are built in the hiring process. Those early formative stages are really important. So I think we could establish that. So why do you think it’s difficult for companies to communicate with our candidates, though? How is it really that hard? Tell me about that?

Kevin Grossman:

Sometimes I rack my brain over that, but then I know, with a lot of the companies that we’ve worked with or at least have had conversations with over the years — and to date, it’s approaching 1,500 companies to date, collectively, over the years, big and small, across industries that have participated in our research. We’ve had hundreds and thousands of conversations with others just to talk shop.

But it’s always a head-scratcher for me. I mean, at the very least that companies it is pretty standard that if I apply for a job, I get that autoresponder thanking me. And then if you’re qualified, we’ll be in touch. And I always recommend that —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Is that feedback? Does that count as feedback?

Kevin Grossman:

No, because see, and it’s not — by the way, in defense of every employer out there, Charles. I got to tell you, for the majority or the — yeah, usually, the majority of candidates for any given job out of the gate, really aren’t qualified.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yes, OK. That is an important point.

Kevin Grossman:

So that, in and of itself, by telling somebody “Thank you, but no, thank you, and best of luck to you,” there is no other feedback to be had because you’re just not qualified. I mean, companies usually get some of that blocking and tackling right, but the problem then is how soon and how timely is it after they’ve applied?

And I can tell you that near this year — and we’ve seen it trend this way year after year, even globally, too — I mean, nearly 50% of the candidates who had applied told us that they’re still waiting to hear back after one to two-plus months.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Which means you’re never going to hear back.

Kevin Grossman:

No. And that’s like, that’s such a big number. Now, sometimes for certain job roles and job types, people aren’t necessarily checking their emails all that much. Email deliverability is harder these days than it’s ever been.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. Yeah, you’re right.

Kevin Grossman:

So I mean there’s some of that reasoning that can — but at the same time, I’ve talked to company after company that, “Oh, we don’t disposition until we close the rack.” That could be weeks or months later.

What we would argue is that, “Listen, if a candidate is not qualified at the point of application, let them go.” And the highest-rated companies, Charles, in our research, every year, are doing that within three to five days.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. And so there’s an interesting aspect of it, too, about the volume. So I’ve worked in high- and low-volume roles, but I’ve spent a lot of time in high-volume roles. And in those roles, you might have a thousand, 2,000 people applying a day, you’ve got automated screeners that’ll disposition them. And there’s probably — I don’t get that into the process, but there’s probably an email that says “Thanks, but no thanks.” That volume situation is very different than, “OK, I’m a specialist, I’m being recruited by a recruiter, I’ve been talking to that recruiter one-on-one.”

So I don’t know if you slice and dice the data, but at the higher-level positions, the fewer candidates there are. Although you could argue one recruiter might have 15 recs, and they’re talking to a hundred people at once. But I would think that when there’s more of a personal touch, because there’s lower volume, that there’s more of an opportunity for a recruiter to say, “You know what? We’re so sorry.” Or even drop an email. I don’t know if you tracked it that way.

Kevin Grossman:

That is correct. And then, I mean, just six-plus months ago and even going back into last year, when I talk to people that have 80 recruiters that have 80, 90, 100-plus racks, that’s just insane. That is insane. I don’t care what the role is for, at the end of the day, and that you’re just not going to be able to — even with automation.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Well, I was just going to say you read by mind. I was going to say no amount of AI is going to replace the human touch, just communication and feedback.

Kevin Grossman:

I will tell you that one of the other takeaways from this year, and it’s been a trend that we’ve seen actually, too, is that conversational AI and texting, for example, are definitely becoming more and more beneficial to employers as it relates to communicating with candidates across — from before they apply even to all the way down beyond the interview.

So employers, I would argue that they control the dials of anything that they have in their tech stack. They can control the frequency, what is said to the candidates. And, I’m actually, sometimes I am surprised how often those templated messages are never changed.

Dr. Charles Handler:

So that’s how I always think about the automation and stuff. If it really sounds cold and formulaic, it’s not going to be as effective. I mean, I always wonder, it’s an interesting psychology study, really, is it more beneficial to have a really scripted automated text message as your communication, or no communication or a human communication, if you look at those three conditions.

And, I mean, I’m guessing no communication would be the worst thing, but it’s interesting to think about it. I don’t deny that those things are valuable. I guess I meant more that there’s no AI that’s going to pick up the phone and call you, or be able to really explain things to you about why you didn’t get a job or something.

Kevin Grossman:

When technology like that, especially conversational AI now, when it fills a communication void where there was not going to be any communication anyway, what we find in the data is that it does actually result in, or it can result in, positive sentiment and higher level of perceived fairness. Because I’m getting engagement, because I’m getting answers, because I’m getting status updates texted to me about where I’m at in the process. Those things make —

Dr. Charles Handler:

That’s important.

Kevin Grossman:

That makes a huge difference. So it can be helpful and be an ally to the people that are involved in the process. Because you do want to focus more human interaction on the ones you’re screening and interviewing anyway, that’s where you want to focus.

Dr. Charles Handler:

So process updates are really valuable. So, “Hey, you’re moving to this next step. Here’s the next step. Here’s how long it could take.” And if you can automate that, yes, absolutely.

So I had one interesting thought, it’s a little bit tangential, but what we’ve also seen a lot lately is actually companies having a bad hiring experience from applicants who ghost them or who take a job and then take another job. So there’s a lot of candidate misbehavior going on.

That doesn’t mean you should never change — that doesn’t mean you should change what you’re doing. But I just think it’s an interesting phenomenon that now there’s kind of an experience that employers have with candidates that’s unsavory to them because it wastes their time, et cetera, et cetera. So not meaning there should be vengeance in how you treat candidates. Just an interesting observation.

Kevin Grossman:

I agree.

Charles Handler:

But we’re going to dig into assessments and the assessment piece of this in just a second. But I guess the last thing I’d ask before we do that is you also work with the CandE Awards. And in that paradigm, companies submit to you all, “Hey, we think we are doing something really well here, and we’d like to be considered for an award.” And then you all very objectively evaluate that.

And that’s something I also would say about the research of the candidate board — Talent Board, excuse me. I’m a survey guy, I’m a social scientist, whatever, and I was a volunteer probably about 10 years ago. And so I saw the methodology. It’s a very solid methodology from a survey standpoint. You all do an excellent job.

So this is not light research, it’s very involved. And so with the Candidate Experience Awards, what sticks out in your mind that the winners are doing? I mean you talked about communication, et cetera. Do you have a story of “Hey, this company” — you don’t have to name the name of the company, even — but “Here’s something that a company has done that was really noteworthy that other folks could look at as a model or as inspiration.”

Kevin Grossman:

Every year, we have a dozen-ish case studies that get embedded into our research. So anybody can dig into those and go back. And then we get more specifics about what some of those companies are doing.

I want to clarify something, too, about how we do the evaluation, because it is solely based on the data, it’s solely based on the ratings. It’s not a judged process. A long time ago, there used to be an extended part of the awards, which was a judged process, when we used to do video interviews of participants, and then there were influencer judges and the volunteers at the time. But the core CandE Awards were always the calculation of four key ratings that we look at every year.

So I can tell you, for example, some of the highest-rated companies in our research this year that include Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, which is in Southern California; D2L, which is a learning organization; Appeal Sciences; NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital; Dr Reddy’s Laboratories; Virtusa; Conagra Brands. The list goes on.

The things that they’re doing, and they’re doing more consistently over time, include, for example — I already referenced one of these. They are ensuring that applicants are reviewed within three to five days and either reject it or move forward. On the average.

Now that’s going to vary, of course. There’s always variance, but they’re doing it. Most of them are doing it consistently, most of them.

They’re also conducting structured interviews to help reduce bias. There’s a systematic way that they’re the same set of questions around candidates and job types. I mean, again, most of the time, they’re adhering to that. They tell us they are. So that’s another example of that. And one of the key things that relates to those two structured interviews is, for finalists, they are giving feedback to finalists. And that is one of the biggest differentiators every year, especially for the final-stage interview folks, because that is not something that companies are comfortable doing. Their own legal counsel will tell them not to do that internally, right? Because they’re concerned about litigation.

But I can tell you that NewYork-Presbyterian and many of these companies, they are giving feedback. And most of the time, this is like, these are very brief job-fit qualifications, status bits of feedback. “This is why we’re not going to pursue you, but thank you very much for your time. And by the way, here’s some other jobs that you should consider going forward,” which is another plus that they do most readily over time. When they’re establishing follow-up dates, they’re more consistent with actually adhering to that expectation-setting that they set with the candidates. They’re doing that.

These are all things that are driving those high ratings that we see every year in our research. Those are just some examples of what they’re doing on a regular basis. And they are doing it. And it’s not — there’s many companies that are doing some of this, but they’re just not doing it as readily and consistently over time that we see in the highest-rated companies every single year in our data and research. And the candidates tell us that.

In fact, one of the areas that most of the companies, even the above-average companies who win our awards, everybody’s been struggling with the interview and pre-boarding process the past few couple of years. It started with the pandemic and how that dramatically changed everything of how we do that.

And by the way, that’s another takeaway for this year is that the onboarding, pre-boarding stage is one of the first — one of the big priorities next year for employers, i.e., focusing on retention out of the gate.

Dr. Charles Handler:

It’s true.

Kevin Grossman:

And so that is definitely something that was not as prevalent and in the past that we’ve seen, but it’s been the case.

But that’s another area where the companies that are the highest rated in our research, they are also ensuring, before day one, that there is more nurturing and engagement and communication to keep their new hires warm. Because sometimes, with health care, for example, you’ve got certification checks that have to be done and that can — sometimes the start date becomes a moving target a little bit if things get pushed out. And the list goes on.

So that kind of engagement of introducing them to team members before they even start, even if they’re remote or are not going into the office yet, that kind of engagement before day one makes a big difference. And the highest-rated companies are doing that more readily than everybody else.

Dr. Charles Handler:

It’s interesting because, for 20 years, at least, I’ve been tracking research that shows that there is a direct relationship between how a new employee is handled in that first onboarding period and their commitment, their retention, all these things. These signals early on are deep-lasting signals, deep-lasting things.

And it’s interesting, some people might not think that it’s the case. But I’m telling you, that’s a very robust finding. So, we’ll dig into assessments in this. And I read some of the summary notes you sent over. So I think what’s really important is that when it comes to assessment — the three pillars from Candidate Experience are really engagement, fairness and feedback. That’s the same pillars that everything else is, right?

But assessment is an interesting use case. You all found that the companies that are seen as being the most fair in the hiring process are the ones that have the highest level of engagement. So the more that you’re offering an engaging assessment and engaging around that assessment, the more fair you’re seen.

And to my point earlier, what also impacts these long-term things like retention and commitment and things like that is the fairness that you perceive. Organizational procedural justice is one of them. If you get really into the psych literature, these are real things. So you got to be fair about it.

Well what does that mean? What does fairness mean in an assessment? Well I can tell you, and you can agree or disagree, that one of the number one things is, let people know that the assessment is coming and why the assessment is important. And to me, the more that assessment does not leave a candidate saying, “Why the hell are they asking me this?” If you have an assessment that leaves a candidate saying, “What in the hell does this have to do with the job I’m applying for?” No bueno, that is not good.

An instant feeling of lack of fairness in the process. So I think those are really important things because people get nervous with assessment. Nobody likes taking tests. And when you get there you’re immediately, if you think it’s really hard — or I think most people who take employment tests that aren’t in the business say, “Oh, my God, I know I flunked that I’ll never get the job.” There’s an immediate perception that you’re being probed and poked with these cold tools. So the more you can do that, I think it’s valuable.

Kevin Grossman:

And Charles, and you know this, too. One of the things that also drives perception of fairness is — and this is what we’re assuming, especially those candidates who feel like the assessment, they have a higher NPS, for example, with assessments or even interview fairness, too.

If they’re feeling that this is giving them the opportunity to share what they have and what they know and what they can do. Which is why, I know you and I had this conversation last year, too, but I’m a much bigger proponent of a job simulation assessment than I am of a personality test.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Sure, and I agree completely. Now, and we don’t need to get into that whole thing, but yes. Really the first light bulb that went off for me in grad school, I was a little lost entering into there, — not really, not being — kind of avalanched with a very esoteric literature that was very detailed and going, “Oh my God, how am I going to make sense of this?”

And my first paper was, hey, work samples are really one of the best ways to evaluate applicants because you’re giving them a miniature replica of the job. So what they call is one-to-one correspondence between the predictor, the hiring process and the criterion, the job that you need to do. So it’s just such common sense.

And I think that the future of what we’re doing here in assessment is really leaning in that direction. The problem just becomes you can’t simulate every job, and there’s an environmental thing and a technology thing-

Kevin Grossman:

That’s true. No, you’re right about that. I mean, there are other — but you know this, this is your expertise. There are other skills- and competency-based assessments that help employers understand the breadth of somebody’s potential, well, potential and/or what they do know, what they can do. This is why we have testing standards in schools. And I think that we have to understand, you have to be able to measure what somebody may or may not know.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Oh, absolutely. And there’s ways to do it objectively, and there’s ways to do it fairly in an engaging manner, for sure. So if you’re thinking about assessments, you need to look at it from that lens.

So let’s talk about feedback, though, because this is a really interesting one. I mean, you get a very low percentage of people getting feedback about their assessment, and especially here in the U.S. And I’ve been talking about this for 20 years, and it probably hasn’t changed that much. And even though I think that nowadays there’s so much more of a premium placed on it. And why is that?

Well, in the U.S., we’re extremely risk-averse, fearing litigation because you tell somebody the wrong thing, but there’s ways to do it. There’s ways to give good feedback. And so it can be done. And I just always like to keep saying that — if you just think there’s no way, because we don’t want to cheese off a candidate who we don’t hire, well, that that’s not a good way to look at it. And I feel like there’s hopefully continued momentum toward providing that feedback. And it can be very general feedback: “Here’s your strengths, here’s the things that you do well.” I don’t think you need to dwell on the negative.

There’s a really good example that it’s kind of an open source, so there’s an API for it, it’s a Red Bull assessment called Wingfinder. And you can go just Google Red Bull Wingfinder. It’s a pretty nicely put-together assessment. It’s contemporary-looking, and it puts you in the environment of a — you’re head of a ski team and there’s all these scenarios you have to do. So it’s broadly applicable and Red Bull uses it, but they also make it available through an API. But it gives you a really nice feedback report at the end, as a candidate. And I felt like that was one of the better ones that I’ve seen.

And we at Sova have a candidate feedback report that you can provide to people. So it’s not like assessment companies don’t do it. I just think it’s something that’s not always looked at in a way where companies are excited about it. And your data shows that — very few people get that kind of feedback.

Now, once you’re hired, a lot of times they’ll say, as part of your onboarding you’ll get that. And I do believe that is still valuable to our point of onboarding. But what about all those other people that didn’t get hired and they took the assessment?

Kevin Grossman:

Again, there is, if you can give a candidate a valuable piece of feedback, even from an assessment that you asked them to take and potentially could have taken 20, 30, 45 minutes to take. That’s a lot of time in the life of a job candidate. To give them some — here’s some takeaways from it that are in a way, in a positive sense, especially whether or not you’re going to pursue them either way. That goes a long way with candidates.

And that’s one of the things that drives super-high sentiment, as well as, whether it’s direct feedback after the interview or direct feedback after an assessment or screening, those things go a long way with candidates. Because what we just all want to know, “Tell me the why,” just a little bit of the why. What does this assessment tell — not only tell you, but how can it help me?

Dr. Charles Handler:

Well, yeah, and here’s the thing. It’s like we’re going to ask you all this stuff about you. We want you to reveal your deepest self, and we’re not even going to tell you what that means when you’ve taken this test.

So difficult stuff, that challenge isn’t going away. I think in Europe, in the U.K., for instance, the candidate has a right to requisition their results. I don’t know that a lot of them do, but they have that right? We don’t have that here in the U.S.

Kevin Grossman:

We don’t have that now.

Dr. Charles Handler:

No, and I don’t know that we ever will, but to me it’s a corporate responsibility thing to think about doing it that way. And I sure think, if I were an internal person in talent acquisition, knowing what I know, I would be figuring out how we can do this in a positive manner.

So Kevin, tell us when the new report comes out so everybody can be aware and how they can kind of pre-register, if that’s possible.

Kevin Grossman:

So we’ve got a couple of executive briefs that will come out before the holidays — and then getting people to pre-register for the bulk of the reports that will come out.

A large report that we do every year, that’s more North American-focused, will be out in early January. And then the rest of the regions will be out in January, which will help us kick off the new program year for the benchmark research next year.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Cool. Good stuff. Well, thanks again for your time today and for sharing some of the highlights and having a great dialogue.

Everybody, get this research. And we look forward to talking to you again in the future, Kevin, thanks for your time.

Kevin Grossman:

Thanks Charles, I appreciate it.

Dr. Charles Handler:

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February 01, 2023
Sova Assessment
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