7 ways to select the brightest talent

SPONSORED: If you really want to attract and retain the best staff, you'll need to make your recruitment process useful, engaging and enjoyable.

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 27 Oct 2016

If you've found yourself poring over your staff turnover figures, and scratching your head as to why they're so high - or wondering why your company's growth figures are so low - you may find the problem lies in your recruitment processes. To be successful, talent assessments have to be active, responsive and fixed on the skills and traits people need to really drive results across the business. Here's how to turn your HR team from process people to true talent spotters...

1. Give it the right support
Got a talent strategy? That's a good first step. But it needs to be embedded in your wider business strategy and have the proper backing. Pull together a bright and able company-wide team for selecting and assessing talent, which can then define the best practices and standards they'll use in assessments - ensuring they're valid, job-related and clearly matched to business needs. This team needs to set specific goals: not to 'improve retention', say, but to 'reduce attrition by x percent' in a particular market, division or role.

2. Know what skills you're after
You need to build a robust definition of what high performance looks like, define the attributes you're after - the skills and behaviour, broader values and cultural fit - and communicate this to all your stakeholders.

3. Make it engaging
Newbies who enjoyed their recruitment experience apply 15% more discretionary effort once in the role and are 38% more likely to stay, according to a report by CEB, the best practice insight and technology company. So make recruitment simple and seamless, allow applicants to choose whether to continue with the process or opt out, and even give them some extra value – why not offer them tips for their own professional development?

CEB worked with fashion accessory company Swarovski AG to develop a selection process centred on a 'virtual boutique', which assessed candidates in a realistic simulation of the job. This immediately won over those who were up for it, and weeded out those who weren't. And successful candidates who'd been through the virtual boutique turned out twice as likely to be a good fit for the role.

4. Get proper answers
Who hasn't been subjected to some workplace personality test that proved an amusing distraction at the time, but meant absolutely nothing when it came to actually doing the job? Predictive assessments should provide meaningful answers to specific, business-relevant questions - like whether this candidate has the right characteristics to be a senior manager later on, how they'd react to risk, and what other roles may suit them. You can then map this information across the whole organisation, to see what gaps you've yet to fill.

5. Harness hidden wisdom
Assessment strategies are, of course, shifting from human judgment to data-backed decisions. But it's time to swap the humble spreadsheet for something far more revealing. Microsoft China shaved five crucial days off its average recruitment time, which had previously taken a month, by building an automated measurement program that included personality assessments and verbal and numerical ability tests. These days you can even use machine learning: computers can now predict a candidate's suitability to various roles from clues hidden in their CV.

6. Think globally, act locally
If you standardise your approach to selection, you can apply it across all business units and territories. So you'll be able to spot the right internal candidate for a post in London, even if they're currently at a terminal in Sao Paolo. It will also make it easier to benchmark and analyse performance around the world. But this approach should also adapt to local requirements. If, say, your Indian wing needs to test the English level of external applicants, they should have the flexibility to introduce online tests.

7. Assess the process, as well as the people
Once you've tested a critical mass of candidates, check to see if your selection process still kicks. Look into its impact on candidates and recruiters and, importantly, whether it's still benefiting the business. Has recruitment become quicker or more cost-effective? Have those new recruits sent your sales soaring? And benchmark yourselves against other leading organisations: are you up on the latest tools and tricks? Only one in three recruiting managers is currently satisfied with the influence that recruiting has on their business, according to CEB. So if you make any improvements, make sure they're meaningful.

For more advice on revamping your recruitment, download CEB's Reinventing Talent Assessment report.

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