How Confident are You About Applicant Screening?

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A report recently released through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests HR professionals are not all that thrilled with entry-level applicant screening processes.

The Joyce Foundation funded a study to find out what skills are most important for the hiring of entry-level candidates.  The foundation also wanted to know more about common recruiting practices.  Conducted by Mercer and the SHRM, the 2016 analysis reflects the opinion of more than 520 randomly selected HR personnel involved in the screening processes of their company.

The results offer a snapshot and suggestions on how screening processes might be improved at all hiring levels.

What are employers looking for during entry-level hiring?

With job openings going unfilled, the Joyce study sought to identify how employers were making decisions on entry-level candidates, from application to interview.  During the survey, respondents were asked to reply to questions on the skills and tools used to evaluate candidates. Here are some findings of the research:

Skills needed for the job:  The survey dedicated significant effort to determining what types of skills employers are seeking from entry-level hires.   Fifteen different skills were evaluated to develop an understanding of desired candidate qualities.  Interestingly, the top skills sought are “non-cognitive,” or attributes usually known as soft skills.  Non-cognitive skills are increasingly seen as important to an adaptive, future-moving workforce.  In this survey, skills that topped the list include:

  • Dependability and reliability: More than 78 percent of respondents felt dependability and reliability were the most important skills to bring to the workplace, followed by integrity with 49 percent of the vote, and teamwork, which was highly valued by 36 percent.
  • Aiming at the future: Ranking workplace skills needed in the next three to five years, employers are looking for (in order) adaptability, initiative, and critical thinking.

Common hiring process:  Most respondents noted their companies continue to use applications, resumes, and in-person interviews to hire for entry-level positions.  A standout point from the survey is the lack of confidence HR personnel place in these hiring processes.  Only about four to 12 percent of survey participants were “very confident” that their hiring processes were offering accurate assessment for the skills they seek.  In a press release, The Joyce Foundation suggests this finding indicates the hiring field “is ripe for disruptive change,” in the form of better use of objective technology.  Types of hiring tech noted by the Foundation as being better designed to “capture underlying skills,” include:

  • Personality tests
  • Cognitive ability tests
  • Online simulations

For those companies using selection tests, 84 percent of respondents noted the results were considered as one piece of the hiring decision.  Another 29 percent use the results as part of the development process once a candidate has been on-boarded.

Internships are important: Completion of a job or career-related internship was valued by 47 percent of the survey respondents.  Barring an internship, 39 percent felt that holding down a job outside of an educational environment was also valuable.

Who you know counts:  The most valuable source of candidates for 87 percent of these HR professionals is employee referrals, followed by the company job website.  Just over half responded that they use career fairs, followed by school recruiting and LinkedIn for entry-level job candidates.

These are just some of the findings from this survey that offer insight into how HR professionals are currently assessing and hiring entry-level candidates.  Take-home points include the importance of non-cognitive skills, the presence of an internship or relevant work experience, and talent pools created by employee referrals.

As well, the Joyce Foundation suggests the use of selective testing and assessment software could reduce the number of high-quality candidates dismissed by standard resume review processes.

When you are interested in looking at recruiting or staffing software designed for HR professionals, we hope you will give us a call at BrightMove.