By Adam Godson
Senior Vice President, Global Technology Solutions

Technology has come a long way in improving the candidate experience. Automation has helped reduce unconscious bias and gives job seekers more flexibility to self-schedule interviews, which makes communication between companies and the talent it’s looking to hire easier than ever.

But with this progress comes new challenges. In the case of technology, it’s usually a matter of having too much of a good thing, or maybe using the right thing in the wrong way. I spend a good amount of my time talking with organizations all over the world about how they use technology, and all the ways – positively and negatively – it affects candidate experience. Here are three areas I’m currently hearing a lot about, and how you can make sure that your use of technology is a force for good in your talent acquisition strategy.

Problematic online assessments

The ease of applying for jobs online has led to recruiters and talent acquisition teams having higher volumes of candidates to sort through. One tool that’s been used to lighten the load is online assessments. By asking certain questions about the job or attempting to get a sense of the candidate’s personality and work style, recruiters can learn more about whether they would be a good fit at the company.

If not done the right way, online assessments can have unexpected pitfalls and consequences that could contribute to you losing quality talent. Here’s how to make sure you benefit from these tools:

  • Make them easy to take: While online assessments vary in length – I’ve seen some take as little as just a few minutes while others can be a half hour or more – it’s important to not disrupt the process with too many breaks. In addition to frustrating a busy candidate who might have other, perhaps more user-friendly, assessments to fill out, each break represents a chance for them to opt out of the process or for some disruptive technical issue to arise. You want to be sure the candidate is spending their time and energy on giving you quality answers on the assessment rather than just figuring out how to get through it.
  • Keep it short and sweet (& mobile): For a typical application process, the candidate completion rate drops off 50% for each minute after 10 minutes. So it stands to reason that while there are cases where a longer assessment is appropriate, shorter is most often better. This is especially true for hourly roles, where candidates have plenty of employment options. However long your assessment is, it needs to be mobile-friendly as 20% of U.S. adults only have access to the internet via their smartphones.
  • Dig, don’t ditch: You may have heard that unemployment is low. Historically low. That means the common practice of using online assessments to simply shuck away otherwise talented and qualified candidates because they didn’t fall into the right results category isn’t a great idea. You would be better served using them as an opportunity to dig deeper into how a candidate could benefit your organization. I’m talking more about professional roles here, where a skills or emotional intelligence test might not be enough to fully capture what someone has to offer. For many sectors, the talent pool is too shallow to dismiss someone before really getting a chance to know them. Focus on qualitatively evaluating a candidate as opposed to just cutting down on quantity.

Complicated HR technology platforms

There are plenty of great human resource software programs out there that you can use to manage your recruiting efforts: Workday, Epicor HCM, Oracle HCM Cloud, Dayforce, SAP SuccessFactors, just to name a few. But the truth is, there’s probably not one system that can do everything you need or want it to. Many platforms have feature gaps that need to be supplemented by additional point solutions -- from CRM to scheduling -- to improve the candidate experience. While using platform solutions may remove an integration to the rest of that platform, it’s important to do gap analysis to be sure your team has the tools to succeed.

Impersonal overautomation

Remember how we were talking about too much of a good thing? With automation, this occurs when the human element is completely removed from the recruitment process. There’s an emotional side to job searching that organizations would do well to keep in mind. The person wanting to join your company could be leaving a job (and co-workers) they’ve had for many years, or they could be in the midst of a long unemployment stint. They need to know there’s a human being somewhere on the other side of that application.

That’s why you should view automation as an aid to your recruitment process, not a replacement. Go ahead and use that software for more behind-the-scenes functions like managing a candidate’s data, posting relevant job ads, and other administrative tasks. When it comes to actual communication, maintain those human touchpoints.

At Cielo, we’ve seen this play out where a completely automated system results in an increased rate of interview no-shows. Not having a person reach out and schedule those interviews does away with the social contract, where an applicant feels more connected and accountable to the promise they made to that living, breathing individual, as opposed to a time slot they clicked.

By now, most people can tell when they’re talking to a chatbot or when a follow-up email is automated. Again, these aren’t bad in and of themselves. Most candidates, in fact, want and expect a degree of automation, and there are ways to let them choose which method of scheduling they prefer. But if the only feedback they’re getting from you is a product of automation, they’re going to be less engaged.

In recruiting, the goal is to give all candidates a great experience while making sure the best ones keep moving along the interview process and get hired. Technology certainly helps with that, and by avoiding the pitfalls that come with relying on it too heavily, or without the right amount of thought and consideration, you’ll be reaping all the benefits our digital age has to offer.

Follow Adam Godson on Twitter @AdamGodson and connect with him on LinkedIn.