In 2019, the unemployment rate reached a 50-year low, which means that when agencies hire for top talent, they have a smaller pool of candidates.
As a result, candidates have become more invested in the hiring process as they have a greater advantage than before to be selective about where they work.
“In the past, a candidate for a federal job might have come in and expected to spend 30 years or a career there — that isn’t so much the case anymore,” said Ted Kinney, Vice President of Research & Development at PSI Services, a workforce solution provider for the public and private sectors.
In the public sector, agencies must see the hiring process as bidirectional, not unidirectional as it has in the past, Kinney said. In current labor market conditions, agencies have to be aware that candidates are making a decision about their employer, too.
“We need to create an experience that’s going to give the candidate the data they need to make the most accurate decision about the agency,” Kinney said. “Because when they make a wrong decision, we’re the ones that feel that pain.”
Kinney highlighted two things that open the gateway to a better candidate selection process experience: clear communication about what to expect and an assessment strategy that creates a positive, engaging first impression.
When it comes to hiring assessments, candidates aren’t surprised they will undergo evaluation. “What PSI has found is candidates react negatively when they don’t know what to expect in a selection process,” Kinney said.
PSI’s research shows that if an organization communicates in advance what the hiring process entails, the candidate will be receptive.
Creating an engaging assessment experience is also key. A good assessment experience strengthens the connection between the candidate and the employer. A scientifically derived assessment approach leads to better hiring decisions rather than relying on a hiring manager’s gut feelings. Individual impressions often lead to a workforce that’s just the same as the hiring manager, Kinney said.
Technology-enabled solutions can help. “One of the things that is key about a well-developed assessment process is that it ensures that every candidate is measured using the same yardstick,” Kinney said.
“A computer doesn’t know the demographic characteristics of the person being asked the questions,” he added. “So a technology-enabled assessment eliminates a lot of the sources of bias that plague many hiring managers.”
Online Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms provide an engaging assessment experience through leveraging gamified principles like progress bars, interactivity and section timers. These techniques keep the candidate interested in the experience.
At PSI, a dedicated team of industrial-organizational (I/O) psychologists works to improve how to leverage technology to create forward-thinking talent solutions.
“When building a selection process, organizations should make sure that every stage strengthens the employment brand, while also collecting predictive, fair and compliant information to win the war for talent,” Kinney said.
Takeaway: Think bidirectionally when it comes to hiring. Agencies have to be aware that candidates are making a decision about their employer, too.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “The Top Government Innovations of 2019.” Download the full guide here.