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Innovating Assessment Methods for Hiring With Bas van de Haterd

Today on Science 4-Hire, I’m joined by Bas van de Haterd, an assessment enthusiast and self-proclaimed “professional snoop” dedicated to helping his clients get to the root of their hiring problems. He helps companies find the right assessment tools so they can attract and hire the right people.

Van de Haterd discovered his love of assessments by chance when, as a talent acquisition professional, he encountered a game-based assessment for the first time. “I started asking really difficult questions,” he says, and he hasn’t stopped. Today, he researches innovative assessment methods for hiring in the Netherlands and the rest of the EU, awarding top innovators for their creativity and potential.

If you’re interested in hearing how work futurists are innovating on assessments and what that means for you, you don’t want to miss my conversation with Bas van de Haterd.

Incorporating Biometric Factors

One of the most unique developments in assessments comes from independent researchers from European universities, who are experimenting with measuring biometric factors alongside traditional assessments. Van de Haterd explains that these researchers are developing a “technology which is able to read your heart rate through a camera.”

This biometric factor is layered over a traditional assessment to “measure how intensely you’re focusing on the assessment while doing the assessment. They’re able to measure how much effort are you putting in,” van de Haterd says. The less effort you put in, the researchers posit, the higher your cognitive abilities are (controlling for variables like test anxiety).

The same group is using cameras during assessments to assess how engaged each candidate is with the job. (Spoiler: We’re not as good at reading body language as we thought.)

“While recruiters saw people being very engaged, it turned out those people were the least engaged,” van de Haterd says. “Their algorithm is now able to say, ‘Listen, this person really wants your job.’” A candidate’s level of engagement demonstrates how invested they are in the process and could predict their potential engagement with the role.

Biometric assessments, including those with a DNA testing element, are pretty far from getting to market, however. For now, privacy concerns are keeping these types of assessments in the research lab.

Matching People to the Right Roles

Assessments have always played a crucial role in helping people determine their place inside organizations, but some companies are innovating in this space. One company is developing “brain profiles” to find trends that will help this organization better place people in their ideal role within the construction industry.

“They look at all 16 cognitive traits and they’ve measured that to all of the people they’ve been employing and seeing how successful they were at certain jobs,” van de Haterd says, “And so they now have what they call brain profiles of the different people.”

He recalls when an introverted new hire expressed interest in becoming a foreman, even though all the foremen at the company were extroverts. But although his outward personality didn’t seem to fit, the profiles suggested he was a fit. The company gave it a try — and he excelled.

“They’re now placing [candidates] in jobs which fit them better,” van de Haterd says. That can have a big impact on both the new hire and the employer.

Moving Into the Metaverse

Biometric factors aren’t the only new development in assessment technology. Some industrial-organizational psychologists are experimenting with adding augmented or virtual reality into the assessment process — or even moving assessments into the metaverse. Van de Haterd recalls speaking with the self-branded “Metaverse Psychologist,” who’s toggling thousands of different data points that can be measured in new testing formats.

“For example, within the VR goggles, some of them are able to measure your eye movements,” van de Haterd says. That one data point could be applied to roles where someone’s visual perception is a big factor in performing the job. ”For example, let’s say airport security staff: What does attract their attention?” he says. “Can we correlate that with the type of attention span or the type of attention focus you need as airport security?”

While this research is far from being market-ready, it’s an interesting idea that expands the scope for assessments. Although researchers aren’t planning to release AR or VR assessment products based on their findings anytime soon, the research itself is a critical prerequisite for launching science-based products in the future.

“We won’t be there in five years’ time if we don’t start researching what we might be able to do with it right now,” van de Haterd says.

If the scientists don’t take control of creating innovative assessment methods for hiring, the risk of non-scientific vendors injecting themselves into the space is high. “As an industry,” van de Haterd says, “we need to make sure that we don’t get overrun by the time it’s time to be there.”

People in This Episode

Catch Bas van de Haterd on LinkedIn.

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 again, everybody, and welcome to the latest edition of Science 4-Hire. My guest today is Bas, I’m going to say his last name the best I can, and then he can correct me, because it’s not an easy one, Bas van de Haterd. Now, you tell me, Bas, how do you really say it?

Bas van de Haterd:

Van de Haterd. There’s an [inaudible 00:01:12] in there.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Ah.

Bas van de Haterd:

Yeah, my name is Bas van de Haterd, and I am a Dutchman. I consult with companies on improving their talent acquisition, and sometimes that’s improving the candidates you get in, but what I have been focusing on for the past years is actually selecting the people that do apply, or broadening your talent pool by making sure your selection is better. I do that with all kinds of modernized assessments.

Maybe, a fun fact is that I think I’m the most assessed person in the world because I’ve actually tried to test every new assessment technology on myself. So, I must have been through at least a hundred, maybe 150 assessments. Yeah, that’s me.

Dr. Charles Handler:

That’s great. Yeah, I love doing that, too. It’s really fun to put yourself through, and I feel like I know myself pretty darn well by now, and what I see is pretty consistent, as well. But there’s definitely some variation depending on what we’re looking at doing. I think what’s really interesting, too, is that you’re not an I/O psychologist or a psychometrician. So, how did you get interested in assessments, before we kick off the substance of the show? I’m just curious.

Bas van de Haterd:

Well, you’re right. I am not an I/O psychologist. So, I actually know my limitations. When I’m talking to people like you or professionals of I/O psychology, I always know what I do know and also what I don’t know about the industry and the field. I got into this, at a certain point, I met a supplier who, at that point, had the very first game-based assessment, a genuine game. For the first time, I was like, “Wait, this is not questionnaire-based, this isn’t manageable, and it actually gives a really nice candidate experience.” One of the things I’ve been running into at that point was every time you do the traditional question-based assessment, people were tweaking it. I’m not saying that you were cheating on it, but they were tweaking it towards what they thought was great.

Now, I finally found something which — I was just like, “Is this for real? Can we really do this?” So, I started asking really difficult questions. The founder of that company loved the questions I asked because he was like, “You’re one of the very few people from normal talent acquisition, not I/O psychology, who is able to ask smart questions about the science behind it.” I was just intrigued, like, “Are we actually moving this part of the industry forward. And if we’re going to at skill do good candidate experience assessments, are we able to completely do away perhaps at some point with a resume — which, we all know, has zero predictive validity according to every academic study ever done?” That’s how I fell into this and I educated myself on it.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Wow, that’s great. I will say, what a great segue into our topic for today, which is really about assessment innovation. What you’re saying is, “Hey, I saw something innovative and that attracted me,” and I think the thread of our conversations has always been about innovation. I think the interesting thing and the context we’re talking about here is — as I might not have mentioned, Bas is located in the Netherlands. And it’s been very interesting through my market research over the last three or four years to see how many assessment companies are popping up in the Netherlands.

They do some really interesting things, some stuff that’s way out there, in my opinion, and probably wouldn’t fly in the U.S. climate. So, we don’t get to see or be exposed to that much stuff here at home. For better or worse, it’s debatable, but innovation is a good thing. Even though things seem like they might be a little crazy, if you would tell somebody in, whatever, 30 years ago, that you’d be able to have something in your hand that you could talk to someone anywhere in the world or maybe even in outer space with and do your banking and all kind of stuff, people would’ve thought maybe, “That’s ridiculous.” We have to be open to that.

And so, that’s what we’re really going to talk about today, amongst other things woven in and out of there, but what has Bas been seeing lately that — knowing this stuff enough, knowing what the U.S. market is all about and what kind of stuff is playing over here, things that we may not have heard of that are intriguing. And then he and I might debate a little bit about the value of these things or about how can we establish that they’re actually worthwhile. We don’t know. That’s the context. I will also say, and a little bit of a plug for Bas early on here, is that he puts on events and gives awards about clever and effective uses of assessments.

He’s no stranger to this. Innovation is something that is a big part of who he is, just like it is with me. So, we share that. Bas, then let’s just talk about this. I want to hear some stories or some case studies or whatnot about — what’s the craziest thing, if you think contextually for where I would be sitting, or even more so, someone in the U.S. who does assessments who may not be as open-minded as me? What’s the craziest thing you’ve come across that people would be like, “That is not a way to measure things about people for work”?

Bas van de Haterd:

Like you said, I did an award for two years in a row on innovation in assessments. With your permission, I would like to shout out to your listeners, if there’s another independent out there — I stopped doing it in the Netherlands because it’s not something you can do every year because it takes a while for a good case study to emerge. We need data over several years. So, I want to do this on a global scale every couple of years and if there’s another independent consultant like me out there, not vendor tied, who wants to put the spotlight on the greatest innovations, preferably somebody from the U.S. so we can do this from both sides of the ocean, please do reach out to get this award a global level. It’s a not-for-profit thing. I just want to see what cool stuff is happening.

To answer your question, one of the really interesting case studies which came into my award for this year was based on, basically, technology which is able to read your heart rate through a camera. And they’re able to measure how intensely you’re focusing on the assessment while doing the assessment. They’re able to measure how much effort are you putting in there. So, the scores you get on your cognitive assessments basically said, “All right, Charles is using 70% of his — his heart rate went up three or four beats, while Bas’ heart rate went up 12 beats or 15 beats. So, he’s putting in more effort.” If we have the same score, your cognitive abilities are properly higher, which I found insane and fascinating at the same time.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Well, so many questions from someone who has got a research mindset drilled into him early on in your training. Think about this, there are things you got to control for there. What about anxiety? Some people have really bad test anxiety. Is that a different signal in your heart rate than your effort? I’m not a cardiologist, so I don’t know, but —

Bas van de Haterd:

No, but they were actually able to compensate for that by other behaviors. I was surprised, but there’s actually good science behind this. University of Utrecht, together with the University of Ghent have done really cool research and this is actually a nerdy, science-based startup, not a commercial startup. They’re actually crap at selling, to be honest. They did a validation in a way which I was positively surprised by. They were, literally every six months, reevaluating their algorithms also with people of color, because it’s harder to measure skin tone differences, which apparently correlate with. And I was pleasantly surprised by all the research they were doing and immediately understood why they were losing money and not making any money. That was weird and at the same time, I was like, “Wow, this is a cool product.”

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, so many interesting questions about that. Did they validate it such that they saw that their measure was, from a construct perspective, the same as just a regular old intelligence test? Or maybe, if they’re adding that layer, it should be better, actually, but they still have to correlate highly to one another that show that they’re measuring the same thing. So —

Bas van de Haterd:

Well, what they did was they have validated constructs. They just have your ordinary cognitive psychometric tests, and they put on the layer that you have to do the test with your camera on, and they actually get extra data from your camera. They also did — which is an amazing research again from the University of Ghent together with Utrecht, the chief science officer is a professor at the University of Utrecht, by the way — on how engaged people were with the actual job they were applying to and specific behaviors in front of the camera.

What they found, which I found interesting, was that apparently recruiters look at the same signals but completely interpret them the other way around. So, while recruiters saw people being very engaged, it turned out those people were the least engaged. And they validated this by saying to people, “You’re going to get interview training via your webcam, but we do need you to tell us how engaged are you with this job.” It was a job at an energy firm, an oil firm. They had some controversy in there. Lots of people with a green heart will never work for a major oil company. So, they had a big difference. Other people really loved the money from Big Oil and —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Oh, right, interesting.

Bas van de Haterd:

Yeah, so —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, that’s cool.

Bas van de Haterd:

It’s an amazing study, and it turned out that next to the fact that humans were completely unable to judge how engaged people were, because it was all over the place. On average, they saw the most engaged people as the least engaged and the least engaged people as the most engaged. Their algorithm is now able to say, “Listen, this person really wants your job.” I’m not sure if it’s a relevant factor, but some people believe it is.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. Well, you would hope people would only apply for jobs that they really want, but that’s not always possible. But now with the labor market dynamics, how they are, people can almost pick and choose their jobs if they’re good, I think. There could be a contextual thing there that could shift or whatnot. But, of course, you want to only have people who are highly engaged and motivated to get the job, and it does seem like something that would be hard to fake.

One of the things that thematically through our discussions and the use cases or case studies or whatever that you surface, that we talk about a lot are — there seems to be a lot of more biometric or biologically based measures that aren’t self-report measures where you’re just saying, “I’m like this. I’m not like this,” “This pattern comes next to the next pattern,” or, “Here’s a scenario. Here’s how I would perform.” But more like, I think there was one you shared with me that does some DNA related stuff and there’re others I’ve seen even at conferences where they put a little brain hat thing on you and they’re measuring your brainwaves and saying, “This is what your brain’s doing right now,” and you can predict or can measure something about someone that’s predictive using this little brain hat thing.

There’s stuff like that, I put it in its own category, and when you remove a person talking or a person answering questions, the example you just gave does require you doing the assessment. But some of these things, there’s just a skip over the actual human input of answering questions or there’s an overlay of, “We got this biological signal from you, and it means this about your traits.” That’s hard for people to make that connection sometimes.

Bas van de Haterd:

I don’t know if it’s as much a biological trigger that measures a trait, although I got to tell you, I once saw some fascinating research of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. We were able to see that basically every major criminal who did massive fraud, like the Bernie Madoff kinds of fraud, had the same part of their brain light up under certain stimulants. That was really interesting. I mean, I’m not saying that person is going to be a massive fraud, but I wouldn’t make that person the CFO of a firm, probably, if you know that everyone who ever did that had that trigger.

But to go back, this one was way out there. You asked me the most way out there which I saw during my last award case studies. That was this one, I think, and it is more like the extra layer that I’m putting on the cognitive traits. Now, are you able to see from behaviors? I mean, we always know that observing behaviors is a better way to assess somebody than have them fill out what they actually believe their behaviors will be, right?

Dr. Charles Handler:

In some cases, yes.

Bas van de Haterd:

Well, basically, the entire Dutch criminal justice system is based upon psychologists observing behaviors during group processes in order to see that kind of stuff. I actually think that if you look at, for example, game-based assessments where you can assess behaviors in a game, it’s also really interesting to see how different people might be, compared to how they actually think they are. That’s the one problem I’ve always seen at the traditional assessments — self-knowledge. Let’s just say that America has had a lot of people with questionable self-knowledge voting for people who had questionable motives. In the Netherlands, we’ve had a dance teacher being the biggest COVID denier and having massive amounts of followers, which I would come back to the fact that people believe they’re a lot smarter than they are on certain specific things.

Dr. Charles Handler:

When I think about it, though, behavior can be faked. If you think about a situational judgment exercise, I had a client recently, we were talking, they call it the Sunday school answers, which is, you may know the right and wrong answers and choose it on the test, but are you really going to do that on the job? From the testing perspective — now, if you’re actually watching people do the job, that might be different. One of the things though, if you think about this, we know that candidate experience is huge. Think about the candidate experience. Here in the U.S. for sure, we have facial recognition algorithms, huge pushback against that. People just fear that Big Brother, if you will, Big Sister, Big They or Big We or whatever, watching in on you, and it’s creepy. And so, thinking about putting on a brain hat or knowing that your cognitive ability is also going to be measured through what your heart rate is, things like that don’t sit well with people, I don’t believe. So, how are we going to get over that part?

Bas van de Haterd:

Excellent question, and that’s actually one of the things I’ve also been seeing lately is a lot of people don’t believe in any form of assessment.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Absolutely.

Bas van de Haterd:

I literally got texted today a post by somebody who saw the documentary “Persona,”which I remember you had —

Dr. Charles Handler:

[inaudible 00:18:08].

Bas van de Haterd:

The people behind it. She then replied, “All assessments are bad because MBTI, DISC and Big Five are not meant to be personality assessments.” The fact that a lot of people don’t even understand the difference between MBTI and DISC, on the one hand, which are of course as we know, unscientifically crap, and Big Five, which is a very valid construct. And now you have this enormous movement of people who are saying, “It’s all evil.”

What I’ve recently been encountering a lot in the Dutch market is companies buying an assessment which was completely and totally unfit for their target area. I’m not saying it was a bad assessment, but if you’re hiring people for who Dutch is their second language, and you’re buying an assessment which has been validated on academic language levels, it’s going to blow up in your face.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Well, yeah. I mean, it’s like picking the wrong tool from your toolbox to try and accomplish a job. Thank goodness for people like yourself who are out there helping companies choose, because I did that for 20 some years before my present situation, and I can tell you that the consumer of these things is not typically very knowledgeable at all and can easily be swayed if they don’t have someone who knows what they’re doing. That’s why I encourage any company that can afford to have an I/O psychologist on the inside helping out with this stuff. That’s a really good idea because the best tool in the world when not used properly is worthless or even more harmful.

Bas van de Haterd:

Yeah, but then imagine using the wrong tool for your specific thing, for your specific jobs categories. And then, what I’ve seen happen time and time again for the past year is people then saying, “The assessment was bad. All people with bicultural backgrounds have been selected out.” I’m like, “Of course, they have. You bought the wrong tool.” But they can’t admit that they bought the wrong tool or go to their HR director and say, “Listen, you’re an idiot. You fell for the sales pitch.”

So, by definition now, and I’ve had several people coming up to me and say, “All assessments are crap and racist.” Every time, it’s the same thing: Buying a tool which was completely unfit for their company and their audience, and then “all assessments are bad.”

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah. Well, here’s what I think. Helping people find jobs that they’re best suited for is not evil, and that’s what these tools do. They help people and organizations. I just always look at this from a humanistic point of view. To your point earlier, if you really want a job, that’s one thing, but we’ve all really wanted jobs and then got in there. Whether you’re evaluating how much I want it or not, you still need to evaluate how much I actually fit in there. Things that we can do to help align people with jobs and help people grow in their jobs, it helps the company, too, and it’s not evil.

Bas van de Haterd:

No. Actually, if I may, the winner of my award this year did exactly that for that reason. They are a trainee company. They help basically college graduate construction-type of jobs, like the architects or the foreman, et cetera, and they have a three-year traineeship to see where in the construction industry would you fit best. Are you more of a calculator or more of a foreman? They use a cognitive tool which assesses the complete and total — so, not just an IQ tool, but they look at all 16 cognitive traits, and they’ve measured that to all of the people they’ve been employing and seeing how successful they were at certain jobs.

And so, they now have what they call brain profiles of the different people in there, and they’re now helping their young recruits find out the best trainee parts. So, they have a three-year trainee program, and every year you change company, basically. They’re now placing them on jobs which fit them better, and I think they reduced the people leaving the traineeship by 40%.

Dr. Charles Handler:

That’s pretty good.

Bas van de Haterd:

Yeah, by not putting them into jobs which they are not fit for. One of the beautiful anecdotes the client presented to me at the judging session was — she said, “So, we had one guy who was a bit of an introvert, or actually a lot of an introvert, but at some point said, ‘Listen, I know this probably sounds crazy, but I want to try to be a foreman because I actually think I can do that.'”

But we all think foremen are yelling, extroverted people. She actually said, “Well, I don’t think you’re crazy, because you’ve got a brain of a foreman. You’re just not an extrovert, but to be honest, being an extrovert isn’t a requirement for a foreman. It’s just that all of the ones we ever had were extroverts, and it’s a prejudice, but you actually have the perfect brain for a foreman.” And he excelled at it.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, isn’t that great when you uncover those things? I had not exactly the same thing, but we were doing some work on a contact center where the people have to sell, the agents also have to sell. And so, I built my model and I said, “Oh, you have to be an extrovert because you’ve got to engage people and do all this stuff.” When we went and did more focus groups with the subject matter experts, they said, “Actually, being an extrovert here doesn’t matter at all. All you really need to do is to be able to form a relationship with a person in order to influence them.”

So, I had a real epiphany of, you can’t just think these labels always fit. Once you talk to people who know the job and then do some validation work to prove it, you can actually find some pretty interesting things that normally might have precluded a really good agent, or foreman in your case, from getting the job because they didn’t fit a profile that wasn’t necessarily accurate.

So, it also tells how important it is to study the job and understand what it is you’re trying to look for based on the input of people who know the job well and work with it all the time. That’s a really important component of this. We can’t lose sight of that. So, whether it’s brainwaves or DNA or whatever, you still got to know what that output signal tells you relative to a specific job or career path or whatever it is. Otherwise, you continue to miss the mark. You’re shooting arrows here, and the more you’re blindfolded shooting an arrow, the harder it’s going to be to hit the target with the arrow, really.

I do remember, and you can correct me if I’m wrong and then we’ll just start talking about something else, but I do remember you showing me or talking to me about some kind of a DNA analysis thing where people were looking at your DNA and trying to predict?

Bas van de Haterd:

It’s one of those way out there which I just love seeing what happens. To be honest, they do their normal validated questionnaire-based assessment. They just add little DNA and there are several DNA markers in —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Add a little DNA? Where do you get that from? You send a syringe to the applicant at home, so they can pull some blood? Saliva?

Bas van de Haterd:

You actually spit in a tube, and you send it to a DNA sequencing.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Spit in the tube assessment.

Bas van de Haterd:

Yeah, just like My Heritage and all those other heritage DNA sites.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Right.

Bas van de Haterd:

I think Erasmus University in Rotterdam has been on this for a while, and I know there’s a couple of professors in Oxford. There’s a fascinating book called “Blueprint” from Robert Plomin on everything we already know from DNA based to cognitive over psychometric traits. What they’ve been able to find out, and this is way out there. They actually have clients — I have no idea who they are because of course, nobody wants to publicly admit it. I know some of the massive, major corporates actually offer it voluntarily to their potentials or trainees because the DNA part adds stuff on. I know there’s, for example, a certain gene, which is one of the very few single-gene things which we have, which basically looks at your anticipation and your ability to see opportunities. That’s one of the very few things which is a certain gene, a single gene thing. They found that if you don’t have that gene in that setting, becoming an entrepreneur is basically impossible.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Oh my goodness. Well, one thing that I just had with my entrepreneurial brain is that you could actually combine that DNA test with a COVID test and boy, then you’d really be able to sell a lot because you could see that you don’t have COVID by spitting in a tube and also that you’re suited for a job or not.

Bas van de Haterd:

The funny thing was that, actually, the entrepreneur who was one of the guys behind this actually set up the biggest commercial testing lab during COVID.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Oh, that’s funny. Well, I mean, I’m not going to sit here and deny that our chemical — look, DNA is real. We know what it does. It’s pretty amazing stuff. And so, we know there’s reality behind it determining who you are. That’s the whole purpose of it. But at the same time, moving, taking that leap, I don’t really see that happening anywhere anytime soon. But in some kind of future state, who knows? I celebrate the fact that people are doing that kind of stuff because if you don’t, how would you ever know? But practically applied? Not so much. So —

Bas van de Haterd:

I know that the research that Professor Plomin has been doing is mainly on basically mental diseases and your chances of getting into a certain mental disease based on your DNA. He wrote, “I myself apparently have a 75% chance of becoming a schizophrenic based on my DNA. Yet, it could very well be that my extremely structured lifestyle as a professor who’s always been in academia with extreme structures has actually made sure I didn’t,” while several people within his family — and he did DNA tests on them as well — actually did end up hospitalized for the rest of their life. So —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Well, yeah. To me, that just brings up a core theme in psychology of any type, which is nature versus nurture. So, you could have these latent things, and there’s life triggers that cause it. Or sometimes, schizophrenia is so highly related to addiction, say, or PTSD. There’re triggers and outside factors that can wake that up from inside of you. You’re fortunate enough that you probably haven’t run into any of those triggers, but that would be good to know. And certainly, that kind of research in a whole another vein is how you could start looking at some of these nature-nurture things. It’s fascinating stuff, and that’s part of what keeps me hanging around this industry is just predicting what people do and measuring people and that kind of stuff. It’s just so impossible, but at the same time, we find these truths that are pretty cool.

We’ve also had, in preparing for this episode, I want to play us out in the last few minutes here, a little bit of a discussion about something that I do think is closer to home that we’re starting to see a little bit, and that’s VR, AR, metaverse. I think we can sidestep the whole metaverse thing a little bit and just talk more about the technology. Personally, me, I’m not a giant fan at this point of VR, AR stuff being ready for primetime in assessment, and we could talk about some of those reasons. I think you and I, you might have a slightly different take on it. The metaverse theme, I try to avoid talking about it a little bit. The idea that you’ve got this alternate reality where you can model out and interact with people in a more simulated thing.

No doubt, we’re heading toward something like that. Neal Stephenson, I think it was in “Snow Crash” or something, one of his cyberpunk books, is people spend the whole day just jacked into this console and they’re living a whole life that feels completely real in that console. They’re doing things and they come up for air once every couple of days and just wake up and then go back in. And so that kind of thing could easily be happening, but right now, we’re not there. I always think about Second Life and what a big flop that was. And everybody’s like, “Oh, we’re going to build our recruiting places in Second Life,” and all that stuff. I tried Second Life and I was just like, “This is lame.” So, anyway.

Bas van de Haterd:

There’s actually a great podcast series on Second Life a couple of weeks ago in I think it was the journal from the Wall Street Journal. They started looking back on what happened, which was amazing. But I don’t disagree with you on the fact that we should not be using AR and VR [in the] I/O psychology space just yet. I recently met the first guy who branded himself as the Metaverse Psychologist. He’s in I/O psychology. He loves innovation as much as you and I do. You should get him on the show once [inaudible 00:31:40]-

Dr. Charles Handler:

I will.

Bas van de Haterd:

But what he said was, “Listen, we all know that the roleplay and the interview with the psychologists are still very highly predictive of a person.”

Dr. Charles Handler:

They are. Amazingly so, yes.

Bas van de Haterd:

“But what if I can do that in VR, and on top of what I actually see happening have —” And he calculated a thousand extra data points because, for example, within the VR goggles, some of them are able to measure your eye movements. So if we have people going through a certain, I don’t know, area and seeing what they’re looking at, could we at some point validate their attention? Could we at some point see, for example let’s say, airport security staff, what does attract their attention? Can we correlate that with the type of attention span or the type of attention focus you need as airport security?

I’m not saying we’re there. Actually, we’re 0.1% there to make this work. But the simple ideas he had, what could we do? And so, he’s basically investigating which data points are there. Can we correlate them with constructs? That’s actually what fascinates me most about our industry, Charles, is building new constructs. Because most constructs are still the same, but we also know that we are not measuring everything that matters. We still get it wrong.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, of course, it’s impossible again, to my point, of predicting what people will do. Come on, how difficult is that? I think the whole thing to me where we are right now with it, I wouldn’t deny those things, but I think it’s a hardware issue. So, could you imagine an airport screener with VR? You got all these goggled-up zombies running into things because they’ve got the hardware on.

Just hear me out, and then I’ll shut up and let you talk here, but the other piece of it is just not everybody from a selection standpoint/ I don’t disagree that from a training and development standpoint, you can really leverage that technology even now, but from a hiring standpoint — A, you’re going to disadvantage people who can’t afford a VR headset, and as you and I talked about over email, I get dizzy when I put those things on. So, I’m not going to be able to participate in your process. Maybe, the hardware will get better. Maybe, we’ll have contact lenses eventually or regular glasses like the Google Glass with the glass holes walking around. That stuff might happen. So, anyway.

Bas van de Haterd:

First of all, you get dizzy if you’re using a terribly designed headset. Literally, every designer I once talked to said, “Listen, if you get dizzy or seasick,” we call it, “you just had a really bad app.” The well-designed ones, you don’t get dizzy in. I mean, it’s the same as a crap-designed website versus a well-designed website. You can find your way on its apps, et cetera. Now, from the inclusion-exclusion perspective, I agree with you in the U.S. situation, because U.S. employers seem to think that people need to buy everything themselves. Europe, we’re used to either getting people over there and actually paying their travel expenses or whatever. And in the Netherlands, literally from my house, there isn’t a place I can’t go in two hours by car. So, it’s a bit different —

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yes.

Bas van de Haterd:

Location-wise.

Dr. Charles Handler:

But at scale? Think about it at scale. 100,000 applicants a year, you can’t be mailing out 100,000 headsets or bringing them in on campus.

Bas van de Haterd:

Probably not 100,000, although it might actually at some point happen. We actually also know that the Google Cardboard worked pretty well on certain things, but you don’t have all those extra data points. I think, just like we now expect everybody to have a mobile phone, in a couple of years, we might expect everybody to have some kind of glasses. I don’t know. Are they already useful at scale? No. Will we get there eventually? Probably. When? I have no clue. Right now, everybody who’s doing anything with AR or VR is usually getting them into the location because they only have a few headsets. I mean, just like you said, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, a mobile phone was extreme. I remember people telling me 10 years ago, when we were all already on our first iPhone, they went to Cuba, and people just could not believe that you could actually do your banking on your mobile phone.

Dr. Charles Handler:

No, it’s true. Look, it’s inevitable that something like that will continue to grow and proliferate to reach saturation point. If you look at the graph of internet uptake over the last 20 years, you could see how saturated we’re starting to be now, and even that infrastructure’s actually cheaper than laying hard lines. And so, that helps a lot. It’s inevitable, but is it ready for this kind of stuff? No, but people need to be looking at it, for sure. I wouldn’t deny that whatsoever. And then, it’s also generational.

By the time people like me, who might be a little bit of a Luddite about it, die off, and you’ve got people raised on these things. It’s like now even when I’m screening people for hiring, there’s no, “Do you have computer skills?” Anymore. If you’re interviewing someone under 25, they’re raised on computers. That whole thing’s going away. That’s definitely something that’s going to happen. We’re watching carefully, and I applaud people who are giving it a try. But from a mainstream, especially in the U.S. environment, not so much. But maybe, we’re talking five years from now and we have some different things to say.

Bas van de Haterd:

I totally agree with you, Charles, that we’re not there yet, but we won’t be there in five years’ time if we don’t start researching what we might be able to do with it right now. That’s actually what everybody in this space is talking about. Let’s at least acknowledge this might be a really valuable add-on, VR and AR, on our industry and actually not when it’s mainstream and have the other new, completely unscientific startups take to market again and push crap products out, which we currently see a lot happening, as well, with the completely unscientific game-based tests. Some of them are amazing. Lots of them are not. As an industry, we need to make sure that we don’t get overrun by the time it’s time to be there.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, totally.

Bas van de Haterd:

That’s actually what I’m saying. The industry should be researching this, should be looking into this, should be spending R&D money, should be working with academics on actually seeing, “Can AR and especially VR help our industry forward?” Not for a product now, but let’s make sure that we don’t get blindsided by the startups with no scientific, no I/O psychologists on staff, who are really good at selling really great products.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Yeah, it’s the same as AI. It’s the same as the beginning of the internet testing. Boy, the debate about unproctored internet testing 25 years ago, 20 years ago, was inflamed. Some people were just like, “You can’t put a test on the internet. Everybody will cheat. It’s a problem.” Well, guess what? If you don’t do that, you’re dying off, because you’re not going to be able to do it another way. As we move forward with some of these things — and it was mobile devices and we’re talking about this kind of stuff and AI, of course.

So, there’s this “the train has left the station” thing where if we’re not on board early enough, our voice won’t be represented. And that is very important because even when it is represented, there’s a battling that we have to do against people who just don’t care. The AI stuff is a good example, and that’s a whole another series of podcasts, and we’re not going to go there. So, tell everybody what you do for them or what you can do for them and how they can get in touch with you, and then we will go about our day.

Bas van de Haterd:

You can reach out to me on LinkedIn. Bas van de Haterd is my name, and I’m the only one up there. What I can do for you guys is, basically, I’m an independent consultant looking at different tools, seeing the modern tools, seeing everything. I do assessment of assessments sometimes, and I literally help you select basically the best provider tool out there.

On the other hand, I am a great inspirational speaker. This morning, I was looking for one of the major assessment firms in the Netherlands on what they should be aiming at, one of the traditional players — “This is what all your competitors are doing and this is why it’s such a cool time to be in the assessment industry.”

Dr. Charles Handler:

It is. It’s a good time to be in this industry, for sure. It’s a lot of fun and the technologies and knowledge that we build on. It’s like we say, “Standing on the shoulders of giants.” We have people who’ve been doing this stuff for a long time. We know the truth is out there, and now we’re discovering even more truths. Thank you so much for your time today. Looking forward to keeping in touch. Everybody out there, this guy, he’s a good resource.

Bas van de Haterd:

Thank you for having me, Charles.

Dr. Charles Handler:

Science 4-Hire is brought to you by Sova Assessment Recruiting software powered by science. Sova’s unified Talent Assessment Platform combines leading-edge science with smart, flexible technology to make hiring smarter and easier. Visit SovaAssessment.com to find out how your organization can provide an exceptional candidate experience while building a diverse, high-performing and future-ready workforce.

February 01, 2023
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