A guide to crafting next-level talent identification, interviewing, and selection processes

Having the right people in the right job roles means everything when it comes to organizational success. But if your organization doesn’t have a sound talent acquisition strategy, identifying and hiring those people can be a murky process, dependent on guesswork and laden with potential for mistakes. That’s why you need a playbook — a game plan with proven methods for your team to find its most ideal new players. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What is talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is the process of identifying, attracting, interviewing, hiring and even onboarding skilled employees to meet organizational needs. Typically, talent acquisition involves a long-term strategy to find top talent for an organization. A part of the human resources function, talent acquisition includes sourcing talent from within the organization as well as externally.

What are the benefits of having a talent acquisition strategy?

It is important to have a talent acquisition strategy to ensure you are planning for your organization’s future. The volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment we operate in today requires that organizations stay nimble and continuously evaluate their talent needs in order to build a future-ready workforce. One preparative measure that many organizations take is creating a talent community, or a pool of qualified candidates, to select from as needs arise. This also enables organizations to identify candidates who have transferrable skills and who are qualified for job roles for which they might not have originally applied.

What is the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition?

Recruitment is focused on identifying talent to fill open positions. Talent acquisition is a more strategic approach to finding specialized talent or future leaders for an organization.

How can you evaluate your recruiting efforts?

There are a variety of metrics you can use to evaluate your recruiting efforts including time to fill, quality of the hire, cost per hire, and applicant satisfaction. Hogan can help improve these metrics by providing simple, effective selection tools that ensure you quickly identify capable talent without spending unnecessary time conducting countless interviews to make sure you get the right candidates.

What are some best practices for conducting job interviews?

Talent Acquisition

When conducting job interviews, the most important thing you can do is to structure your interviews. Research has proven that unstructured interviews do not predict future job success. They are also shown to be discriminatory, as humans are subject to many biases. By structuring the interview process, you can increase the likelihood of finding a better candidate without discriminating against any person in terms of race, gender, appearance, religion, beliefs, etc.

Campion, Palmer, & Campion recommend several ways to structure an interview1:

  • Base your questions on a job analysis to ensure you asking questions that evaluate relevant knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics.
  • Make sure you ask the same questions of each candidate so that responses can be compared consistently.
  • Limit prompting, follow-up questions, and elaboration on questions to avoid guiding answers.
  • Structure your questions as situational (e.g., pose hypothetical situations to ask what a candidate would do), behavioral (e.g., ask an individual to describe past behavior related to a job), background (e.g., discuss work experience, education, and other qualifications), and job knowledge (e.g., ask questions relevant to the specific job role).
  • Create a detailed anchored rating scale form to allow for standardized ratings from multiple interviewers.
  • Have interviewers take detailed notes to capture relevant information and avoid possible issues with faulty memory (and have a plan to document and store the interview notes!).
  • Use multiple interviewers who are consistent across all candidates. Multiple interviewers can share perceptions to reduce the impact of idiosyncratic biases, become aware of irrelevant inferences that are not job relevant, and have better recall.
  • Train interviewers to ensure they employ these structured techniques correctly and have similar understanding of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics being evaluated through the interview process.

What should be avoided during interviews?

Try to avoid asking unstructured questions on opinions, attitudes, goals, aspirations, self-descriptions, and self-evaluations. These types of questions are often ambiguous and allow a person to present credentials in an overly favorable manner or to focus on details not relevant for a job.

What should the role of personality tests be during the hiring process?

Personality tests play a critical role in the hiring process because they provide insight regarding the candidate’s fit and likelihood of success in the job. They can be implemented at any point during the hiring process — from initial applicant screening to final candidate evaluation. With all other things being equal, however, personality tests should be used as early as possible in the process because doing so provides a fair and objective evaluation before any potential unconscious biases impact an applicant’s chances at getting the job. Personality tests should be just one of multiple data points used in the hiring process.

How can personality tests improve and expedite the hiring process?

Hiring practices that maximize these three considerations will be most effective to the organization: (1) fairness, (2) quality, and (3) efficiency. In terms of fairness, personality tests provide an unbiased way to evaluate a candidate’s fit to any particular job because they do not discriminate based on ethnicity, race, sex, or age. In terms of quality, scientifically validated personality tests improve hiring quality by ensuring that organizations hire candidates whose unique personality characteristics match those desired for the role. As employees, these candidates are happier, more productive, and less likely to turn over. In terms of efficiency, personality tests are one of the most efficient methods of evaluating candidates, while also maintaining fairness and quality. For example, flipping a coin is a fair and efficient way to make decisions about candidates, but it is not high quality. Interviews have mixed results in terms of fairness, often due to the experience of the interviewer. However, they are also inefficient. Personality tests are unique in that they offer fairness, quality, and efficiency all in one. 

When should you use personality tests or critical reasoning tests during the hiring process?

Personality tests can be used at any point during the hiring process, but using them earlier allows for greater utility, given their ease of use, quick turnaround time, and efficient use of resources. By narrowing the applicant pool to the best-fitting candidates, recruiters spend less time interviewing bad candidates. In addition, valid personality tests are not biased and can help broaden the diversity of the applicants under consideration. 

Similar to personality tests, critical reasoning tests can be used early to screen applicants for the minimum requirements needed to perform the job effectively. However, we recommend these tools be used only after the personality test and always conduct a research study to show job relevance for any assessment the company wants to add to their hiring process.

How do you balance experience and “hard skills” with personality and “soft skills” when making hiring decisions?

Hard skills and experience are often necessary but not sufficient to do a job well. For example, suppose you are hiring a software developer. The person must have a background and skills in software development (i.e., a professional chef would not have the necessary skills). But to maximize the software developer’s job performance, he or she will also need to fit in with the team, be able to learn new skills quickly, and have a strong work ethic. These personality characteristics don’t show up on a resume, but they are the difference between hiring a person who is merely adequate to do the job versus someone who is an excellent employee. In other words, once you are sure the person has the requisite skills, the remainder of performance is determined by personality.

How can you fairly differentiate between internal and external candidates when a position is vacant and needs to be filled?

Whether you are identifying internal talent or acquiring external talent, the beauty of personality tests is that they put everyone on a level playing field. While a host of factors differentiate internal from external candidates (e.g., how much training is needed, fitting in with company culture, prior interactions with the internal candidate, etc.), personality tests are intentionally unable to discern those background factors, offering a fair and unbiased evaluation of all candidates. 

How should you write job titles and job descriptions?

A well-written job description is grounded in a well-conducted job analysis. A job analysis is the core of many HR initiatives, ranging from job descriptions to performance appraisal to training and development. Many job analysis procedures first identify tasks of the job — what the job requires — and then identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform the tasks. The importance of each is evaluated using questionnaire methods. This leads to a final set of tasks and knowledge, skill, and ability items that, when analyzed, provides insight on what is needed for performance and the role. At Hogan, we conduct a personality-oriented work analysis using our Job Evaluation Tool (JET), which is an examination of the work role and broader context in which it is performed, with a specific focus on identifying job-relevant personality characteristics. Because the JET strategically aligns with Hogan assessments, results help identify the personality characteristics, values, and competencies required to successfully perform in a target job or job family.

A job description typically consists of several sections:

Brief summary -This section can be used to help advertise the position, and consequently, it should be written so that it is easy to read and understand. Avoid jargon and abbreviations.

Work activities – This section should include the necessary tasks involved in the position. This can also include knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (such as personality) that are necessary for the job.

Tools and equipment – List any tools or equipment needed for the position.

Work content – This section addresses any specific work conditions, such as work schedule, physical requirements, temperature, degree of danger, and any other relevant information.

Performance standard – This section should outline expected performance levels.

All job descriptions should include a job title. The job title can be created within the organization. However, if additional support is needed, we recommend doing research on O*NET OnLine or reviewing similar job descriptions to get a pool of potential job titles.

How can you use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve your talent acquisition strategy?

You can use AI to identify and recruit better candidates who possess the characteristics you deem important. AI models learn to take a set of information, such as resume text, and predict an outcome. For instance, an AI model might predict if someone should move on to the next stage in the talent acquisition cycle.

However, AI techniques require good data, and lots of workplace data have hidden biases that can be replicated, or even amplified, by mathematical models. For example, employers could unknowingly display recruitment ads online primarily to one gender while ignoring the other. We recommend organizations regularly evaluate their AI models for fairness and performance.

How can you improve diversity and inclusion efforts during the hiring process?

Talent Acquisition

You should consider using well-validated personality tests, such as Hogan’s, in your diversity and inclusion efforts. First, use personality to select employees to promote fairness in hiring. Using an assessment that does not discriminate will lead to more diversity at all levels. Hogan has extensive research demonstrating personality is a strong predictor of performance without producing meaningful differences across members of protected classes. As a result, Hogan-recommended solutions can help you identify the best talent without discriminating against any group.

Contrary to popular misconception, using personality for selection does not create a workforce of people who share the same personality profile. We create selection profiles that are specific for each job and would change across jobs. Furthermore, within a job, personality profiles typically only screen on a few personality characteristics, so people will have diversity across the other characteristics.  

Another way to improve diversity and inclusion is by using personality to select leaders who will work to create an inclusive environment to help retain the diverse workforce you are creating. Hogan’s research suggests the Hogan Personality Inventory’s Adjustment, Interpersonal Sensitivity, and Prudence scales,i along with the Altruism scale from the Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI), are all positively related to inclusion behaviors such as discouraging discrimination and prejudice; treating others with respect, tolerance, and open-mindedness regardless of race, gender, appearance, religion, beliefs, etc.; valuing diverse perspectives; and displaying sensitivity to issues related to diversity and culture. Alternatively, the Hogan Development Survey’s Excitable, Skeptical, Bold, and Mischievous scales, along with the MVPI’s Recognition and Power scales, are all negative predictors of those inclusion behaviors. This suggests you can select leaders who are optimistic, perceptive, conscientious, tolerant, open-minded, not defensive, trusting, modest, humble, honest, sympathetic, and concerned about helping others to help drive your diversity and inclusion efforts.

How can you conduct a proper candidate comparison?

A candidate comparison leverages expert interpretation that integrates the critical success factors of the job and fit indices of the organization. Typically, a candidate comparison is conducted when the final pool of candidates has been identified. A candidate comparison includes a side-by-side comparison of the candidates, an in-depth thematic write-up on each candidate, and an open discussion between a Hogan consultant (or Hogan-certified user) and the hiring team.

What is the first thing you should do after a candidate accepts an offer?

Communication is key among internal stakeholders. Update your team and management on the decision. Thank those who helped with the hiring process on your team and across departments. This is also the time to kick off the next phase of the hiring process, which usually involves bringing in other support functions to finalize the vetting of the candidate (e.g., background checks, drug tests, security clearances, etc.). Be prepared to answer any questions the candidate has now about next steps, start dates, relocation, and so on.

What is culture alignment, and why is it important to consider?

The culture of an organization reflects that organization’s values, and workers are attracted to organizations that match their values. When a worker’s values match those of the organization, the worker is more satisfied, more productive, and less likely to turn over. However, when the organization’s values differ from those of the worker, the worker is more likely to turn over or be dissatisfied, careless, or destructive. As a result, culture alignment is an important predictor of productivity and job satisfaction when it is taken seriously. 

Unfortunately, many organizations use the term “bad culture fit” as a go-to reason for denying employment to an otherwise qualified — often minority — candidate. Thus, it is essential for organizations to be objective, scientific, and systematically fair about what culture fit means and how it is assessed. Personality tests offer an objective and scientifically valid way of assessing culture alignment.

How can you get started?

If you’re ready to begin refining your organization’s talent acquisition strategy, a good first step is to identify a valid and reliable personality test. But because the industry is largely unregulated, finding an evidence-based and effective measure of personality can be a challenge. To help, we’ve put together a guide with a standard set of considerations to help you navigate the process.

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