When it comes to hiring, there’s been an increasing reliance on algorithms to make decisions for us. We trust data to determine candidate fit, and the probability of their potential success in a position. The problem emerges when we forget technology is supposed to support us not replace us. Algorithms have built in biases that we may not want to support. The numbers lump people into categorized slots based on how they rank when stacked up next to the competition.
The problem is that we are leaving out a fundamental aspect of recruiting: We’re hiring human beings who are complex by nature and don’t necessarily measure up according to our data sets. Algorithms are designed by humans with inherent built-in biases, and that is not necessarily a good thing, especially when hiring managers are unclear as to the characteristics and experiences those biases filter out and filter in.
In recent years, recruiting has faced widespread criticism for creating the dismal black hole that frustrates job seekers, therefore creating a poor candidate experience. With the advancement of algorithms, we’re in danger of exacerbating an already poor experience that easily misses some of the best potential candidates. While embracing technology, we cannot forget the inherent value of a human driven experience, and the wisdom of our own perspective as complex emotional, social beings.
From customer service to online ordering to shopping, less and less of our interactions include the human touch. We’re being reduced to numbers, data sets and abstractions, which is antithetical to human nature. We are social beings by nature. We’re natural community builders. It’s wired into our DNA. A strong social experience and community has always been a fundamental aspect of companies and work.
A human experience counters the black hole and the overwhelming impact of technology in every aspect of our lives that can result in an increasingly isolating experience devoid of community. Nowhere is this more fundamental than companies, where a strong community experience among workers is critical to ensuring success. Why then would we not prioritize the human touch in hiring?
When recruiters don’t apply their critical thinking skills to the hiring process, everyone loses. We need to be able to look past the bullet points of resumes and read in between the lines when assessing candidates. As work becomes automated, the importance of hiring candidates with strong emotional intelligence, and many of the needed interpersonal skills becomes more valuable than hard skills, which may or may not become outdated in an environment that requires constant retraining. While measurements and testing have their place and importance, to rely solely on them is dangerous.
Today, we need to hire lifelong learners who possess strong interpersonal skills. Much of work, especially in senior leadership roles, will demand these personality types to move companies forward. It requires setting aside the data and meeting people. It requires face time and human interaction, as well as a reliance on that old ‘gut’ feeling. The ability to not necessarily discard those with non-traditional experience in a world, where the rules keep getting thrown out, adaptable, flexible people become extremely valuable. We are better off not tossing aside our own judgement and nuanced thinking when it comes to hiring. We need to trust human judgement above the judgement of algorithms. Ask yourself, do I want to have a have lunch with this person? It matters. It really does, especially when you’re working round the clock to meet a deadline.
Success requires creating harmony in the work environment, as well as empowering companies with leaders who can move the company forward. This requires going much deeper than algorithms, which can easily have built-in biases that do not work in favor of the company’s broader agenda, goals and needs. Recruiters must step up the human experience in 2017. Hiring for emotional intelligence is a big priority in 2017 and beyond because that’s what our technological advancement not only requires of us but demands of us. Remember, we’re in charge of our development to ensure we create the best fit, not the machines.
About the author: Caroline Stokes is an executive headhunter and executive coach for innovation leaders, and founder of FORWARD. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @oCarolineStokes.