#Firmday London Round-up

There were some key themes coming out from our sponsor presentations at our #Firmday London conference – with key focuses being on eliminating bias from your recruitment process, and how to use tech to streamline your recruitment process. If you missed out, there’s a round-up with links to the session recordings below.

Session 1: Talogy

When was the last time you audited your recruitment process? Assuming it was recent, did you include a check to ensure your process isn’t facilitating inequality? Do you know your adverse impact ratios for every minority applicant group? At every stage of selection? Across every criterion you assess? If not, why not?

You’re not alone, but it does mean that you have a huge opportunity to promote greater equality and parity in your hiring.

Not sure where to start? Talogy suggests a three-step approach:

  1. Prevent, identify, and reduce
  2. Cyclical analysis
  3. Inclusion

Start off by looking to prevent inequality in your processes. Make sure your criteria are broad, your testing is inclusive, and your assessors are diverse – and train your assessors. Beyond this, review your process – take a small sample of candidates, seek feedback from both them and the assessors and analyse for any adverse impact. It might not be there but if it is, look to reduce it until you can get the formula right to eliminate it. Adjust your scoring, challenge bias, and remove criteria which are causing an adverse impact.

You’ll need to keep doing this – year on year analysis gives a much clearer picture, particularly if you’re running cyclical recruitment – like a grad programme for example.

Lastly, feedback (it’s recruitment after all!). Ask for people’s lived experiences;  ask your candidates, “What’s it like to complete your assessments?”, ask the assessors, “What’s it like to assess? What did you find challenging?”

It’s ok not to have all the solutions yourself – partner with others to find solutions to drive that parity across your processes – it will take time and it will involve trial and error – and this is a job that doesn’t have an expiration date. We can’t be complacent when it comes to equity, which means continuing to audit processes year in, year out, in order to maintain inclusivity and parity.

You can watch Talogy’s session here

Session 2: Applied

Imagine having two identical applications, but calling back the one with the name Sarah Powell, rather than the one with the name Sahirah Patel. It’s a ridiculous idea, isn’t it?

It happens though. Still, and not just in America, where we’re conditioned to think there are higher rates of racism, but in the UK too. Pop a headscarf on Sarah/Sahirah and her chances of an invite to interview are further reduced.

In the UK, studies show that the call back ratio for job applications from candidates of Pakistani heritage hasn’t improved since the 1970’s, whilst in the USA another study shows call back ratios for black applicants relative to white applicants is unchanged since 1990.

And bias doesn’t just seep in when it comes to race. If your “meets benchmark” application is reviewed straight after an amazing application, it’ll probably be marked lower than the benchmark. Similarly, if it’s viewed after a terrible application, it’s likely to score higher than the benchmark.

There are countless other biases too (but you’ll have to watch the recording of Applied’s session to see if you recognise them in your own process).

It’s uncomfortable when you start to delve into it, but there is good news –  once you start to look into bias, you start to become aware. The next question is, what are you going to do about it? How can you make your brain unsee these biases?

Here are a few suggestions.

You won’t fully remove bias by anonymising CVs, but it’s a start. It puts Sarah and Sahirah back on a level playing field – but a true blind CV would also remove any dates, education, company names, and perhaps even job titles, and that’s not going to make for easy reading!

At interviews, we typically ask “tell me”. Try instead saying, “show me” and ask for realistic work examples, to allow candidates to demonstrate their abilities, rather than their ability to answer a question – and after all, it’s the abilities we’re interested in, isn’t it?

Lastly, think about changing the way you review selection content. Applied’s platform allows you to anonymise applications and review them section by section – which avoids the issue mentioned earlier whereby applications are influenced by the good or bad application screened beforehand.

If you’re still not convinced about why you might want to overhaul your recruitment process like this, there are some pretty persuasive stats. Below are just 3:

  • Studies show a debiased process resulted in teams hiring 2.4 – 3.4 times as many candidates from under-represented ethnic groups
  • One company saw a reduction in first-round interviews hours of 45% and an overall reduction in time spent interviewing on 34%
  • 29% more job offers were accepted

Debiasing your recruitment isn’t just a trend. It’s a must to improve the quality of your hiring.

Session 3: eArcu

We all know by now that candidate experience should be a top priority. But it’s still not, is it? Take a look at your own company’s candidate experience – can you say it’s perfect? That every single person who goes through your process feels valued, never has questions and leaves a brand ambassador, regardless of whether they’re offered a role? If you can say yes, that’s amazing – please get in touch, we’d love to run a case study with your organisation!

For everyone else let’s look at this again. First up, why? Well, other than it being the right thing to do,  morally and ethically, there are also commercial reasons for ensuring a positive candidate experience. You can’t work in recruitment and not be familiar with the Virgin Media case study where a poor candidate experience had a knock-on customer impact of £4.4m a year loss – it stands to reason that those with a bad experience will take their custom elsewhere.

Not only that, but candidates aren’t short of opportunities right now – if you’ve not lost a candidate to another offer this year, buy a lottery ticket quickly. So if you’re not offering a top-notch service, why would it be your offer they accept? And if they don’t accept your offer, you’re back to square one, repeating work you’ve done already and your hiring manager has an empty seat where work isn’t being delivered.

Your recruitment process is an insight into your company – your chance to show your company off at its very best.

Think about your process.  How well do you know your candidate journey? Where does it begin?  A good place to start is reviewing your application process – but don’t be fooled into thinking that starts at your careers site.

Although with a pre-engaged candidate, the journey may have started long before, let’s say for this example, it starts when they see your advert. They may have started Googling a job title – when they get to your advert, they’ve likely made multiple clicks already. How many more do they need to get to the point of application? To find out who you are and why they might want to work for you?

Are you keeping them engaged, inspired and informed throughout the process? There are plenty of ways you can use automation to do this – chatbots for example.

There are plenty of other ways you can be using automation to free you up to focus on finding talent. eArcu’s clients use their Ad-Pro tool to analyse their job adverts and score them – clients have found a higher score directly correlates to higher quality applications.

Melanie Punch of Investec, shared with #Firmday attendees how she partnered with eArcu to put candidate experience front and centre of Investec’s recruitment process. In fact, she was able to implement automation into her recruitment process to a sufficient degree that she was able to reallocate her resources from administrative tasks and redirect it to increase her sourcing resource. Watch the session to find out more.

Session 4: Oleeo

Recruiting without tech is like using an A-Z when you could use google maps

Think about that statement. Can you really think of an occasion you’d dig out an A-Z when you could use google maps?  So why are you still recruiting the same way you did 20 years ago?

Yes, some fundamentals remain the same, and likely they always will, but you don’t work with paper CVs now, so why aren’t you embracing other 2022 ways of working?

If you’re not sure where to start, we’d recommend running the same exercise with your team that Oleeo ran for our #Firmday attendees (you can watch here). Start out by writing down, and sharing what you’d love to automate in your recruitment process. No idea is a bad one – even if it’s not an achievable idea, it might spark another idea that is.

Once you’ve completed this activity, it’s time to write and share the barriers to your ideas. You might find that some of your ideas don’t have barriers, or that some of the barriers are easy to remove. For the ones that are a little more solid, you can start to think longer-term – if budget is a barrier, include the ask in your business case for your next budget – perhaps the spend will in turn reduce costs elsewhere or have an alternative ROI – improved TTH for example, which is certainly appealing to a business.

Need some inspo? Oleeo have some great suggestions on where you can use tech.

  • Intelligent engagement – sending the right messages at the right time, automated. This has worked successfully within the Metropolitan Police, where it was observed that female applicants would drop out – but showing them a video of what was coming next significantly increased the numbers of women progressing to the next stage.
  • Intelligent assessment – using a tool reads the answers to “tell us when you xxxx” questions, and can assess whether or not the applicant has the skills required (a huge time saver when it comes to volume recruitment).
  • Intelligent selection – allowing the tech to learn your hiring requirements and to assess applications in order to make recommendations on who is likely to be hireable, and therefore, who to interview.
  • Intelligent writing – AI identifies overly masculine or feminine wording in job adverts and provides alternative terminology recommendations which are gender-neutral, preventing you from inadvertently discouraging applications from a particular gender.

So what are the key takeaways from our #Firmday London 2022?

Well DE&I is certainly still very high on the agenda,  and if feels like we’re getting a greater understanding of the role bias plays. It’s probably going to be a topic that’s here to stay, much like candidate experience; getting both of these elements right (along with many more!) is key to a great recruitment process. And how do you get a recruitment process right? You audit, you review, you edit – and then you repeat. Regularly. Complacency has no place in a world-class (or any) recruitment function – but continuous improvement does.


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