People and Performance Podcast

Psychology of Hiring with Dr. Charles Handler

November 03, 2021 Fidello Inc. Season 2 Episode 5
People and Performance Podcast
Psychology of Hiring with Dr. Charles Handler
Show Notes Transcript

In this People and Performance Podcast  episode, we look at the psychology of hiring and the 'Great Reassessment' of candidates.

Listen as we investigate the motivators of employees and what's needed to provide a safe and productive company culture.

Our guest this time is Dr. Charles Handler, a thought leader, analyst, and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space. Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems.

Since 2001 Dr. Handler has served as the president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a vendor-neutral consultancy dedicated to creating and driving innovation in talent assessment. Dr. Handler has helped companies such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG, Scotia Bank, Hilton Worldwide, and Humana to design, implement, and measure impactful employee selection processes.

Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the talent assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation in assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies.

Through his podcast Science 4-Hire, his prolific writing for media outlets such as ERE.net, his work as a pre-hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte, and worldwide public speaking, Dr. Handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space.

Questions Include:

  • In a recent LinkedIn post promoting a new episode of your awesome Science 4 Hire podcast, you write: "If you’re still relying on getting resumes from the same old places, you’re placing arbitrary limits on your talent pool ⏤ preventing you from hiring better people and undermining your efforts to increase diversity." It's such a juicy statement, we just had to start there! Can you break it down for us?
  • In another Science 4-Hire episode, you spoke with David Futrell, senior director of assessment and selection at Wal-Mart. They test 10,000 to 15,000 candidates every day, (about 4 million annually). And that’s just for entry-level roles. David said their data shows that well over 90% of candidates will finish an assessment of any length. Have you seen this elsewhere and, if so, why is it more important to ask the right questions than to keep the job assessment process short?
  • Are humans inherently biased/flawed in evaluating candidate capabilities and is AI finally ready to step in?
  • Job fit versus organization fit: when it comes to hiring candidates who'll stay and grow with the company, is culture fit more important than credentials and prior career experience?
  • In the Science 4 Hire episode with Bas van de Haterd, you ask what is the best predictor of job performance? Can you share your take? 


Check out more episodes, videos and posts at pp-pod.com.

Speaker 1:

Hey, this is crispy Orland . Fidela where we have a passion for HR consulting and improving performance. In this episode of the people in performance podcast, bill Banham and I are joined by Dr. Charles handler. Dr. Handler is a thought leader, analyst and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space throughout his career. Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective legally defensible employee selection systems. Since 2001, Dr. Handler has served as the president of the founder of rocket hire a vendor neutral consultancy, dedicated to creating and driving innovation and talent assessment. Dr. Handler has helped such companies as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG Scotia, bank Hilton, worldwide, and Humana to design implement and measure impactful employee selection processes throughout his podcast. Science for hire is prolific writing for media outlets, such as yari.net . His work as a pre hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte and worldwide public speaking collector handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space throughout his career. Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the town assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation and assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies.

Speaker 2:

Charles , welcome to the people and performance podcast today. Thank you so

Speaker 3:

Much for having me

Speaker 2:

In a, in a recent LinkedIn post promoting a new episode of your awesome podcast, data science for hire you, right . If you're still relying on getting resumes from the same old places you're placing arbitrary limits on your talent pool, preventing you from hiring better people and undermining your efforts to increase diversity. This was such a duty statement when I'm crawling through doing my homework, you know, Frank questions, this was such a juicy statement, Charles. I just had to get it in there and I thought, right, let's, let's start with it. Um, can , can you break it down for us? What , what , what are you, what are you getting out there? What, what , what's the state of the nation right now when it comes to the labor market, but what what's going on?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, I think first of all, it's not looking for resumes from different places or the same places, excuse me, it's looking at resumes at all because you know, what, what good are resumes really? I mean, we , we don't have a suitable substitute necessarily, but I think, you know, when you look at populations of , uh , people that are from, I guess, a different background or different part of the labor pool or different experience, whatever it is, a lot of times they don't even really have resumes yet, especially it goes for , um, you know, more entry level people that are coming into the workforce. So it's really about looking at the person and the organization or job or whatever you're trying accomplish and finding a good fit there. It doesn't necessarily have to happen through a resume. So when you think about what's going on in the labor market , um, they're obviously related and everybody's heard about , um, you know, what's going on with the shortage of available workers and many people have hypothesized all kinds of reasons for it. Um, I really liked though, I just read yesterday, the what's going on in labor market and the house being called the brake reassessment air quotes. So as an assessment guy, obviously when assessments in the name of anything, I like it, but it doesn't really have to do directly with assessment, but it has to do with is workers feeling , um, like, Hey, you know, I got this break. Um, there's all these jobs available. I don't have to go back to a job. That's not really inherently , uh , satisfying for me. What could I do to, you know , uh , be my true self in a job? What do I really want to do with myself? Maybe this is a great time , uh, to look for an opportunity to change, to look for an employer that I feel truly values who I am, all that good stuff it's happening now. It's another thing that the pandemic has accelerated.

Speaker 1:

Excellent, excellent. And another science for hire episode, you spoke with David Fewtrell , senior director of assessment and selection at Walmart . They test between 10 to 15,000 candidates every day, about 4 million annually. And that's just for entry level roles. David said that their data shows that well over 90% of the candidates will finish an assessment of any length. Have you seen this elsewhere? And if so, why is it important to ask the right question then to keep the job assessment process short ?

Speaker 3:

I think that assessments are really vilified for being a problem because they're so long. And I think anyone who's taken 1 10, 15 years ago and had to grind through a hundred plus, you know, personality questions, you can see how length could be, you know , construed as a problem. But the reality is that completion rates, you know, my company runs assessments, we run at a 90, some percent completion rate. It's pretty typical that you're going to run a rate that's, you know, in the 90%. So that's nothing that's really , um , out of the ordinary, when it comes to the data about what candidates prefer in assessment length , and it's really a bill shaped curve. Um, you know, if you've got a three, five minute assessment, a lot of candidates, you know, the evidence shows from surveys and all that, they really don't find that credible. So as an employer, you're pushing out this really, really brief thing and an applicant saying, wait, you're going to tell me if I get a job or not based on three minutes of me answering some questions. I don't know about that. That doesn't really sit well with me , uh, on the other side of the curve. Sure. If you're over an hour, for sure people are going to get a little fatigue now in higher level jobs for more advanced positions, people are used to being assessed. There's, there's more about a person you need to learn. So the specimens are longer. Um , the stakes are higher too, but in general, you know , most of the assessment world, you're looking at a sweet spot of around 20 to 25 minutes. You should be able to ask and get all the information you need , um , to evaluate an applicant on the top three, five things needed for the job in that amount of time. And, and so it's really not the problem that people are making it out to be. Um, it's all about giving the candidate an opportunity to feel empowered by showing their stuff, showing you what they can do, showing you, who they really are. And getting completions is all about spinning that in a positive way and about making sure that the friction in the process that surrounds the assessment is low. It's easy to get to. The instructions are clear, it's engaging. Uh , you do all those things. Length becomes way less of an issue.

Speaker 1:

I think that's brilliant. Yeah. I definitely definitely see that as a point because if you get the people engaged too , they're going to continue to tell their story. And that's a great thing.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . And you know what, it's a great opportunity. This is something we've been working on a lot. It's a great opportunity for brand. You just don't see a company's brand. And, you know, we work with big enterprise companies. So the brand is, is , um , on the present guiding everything and the brand doesn't always fit the assessment, but it should. Right? So there's a , that's a whole nother podcast, but it's been an opportunity to engage, not necessarily even through a game or some kind of sexy assessment content, but just extending the brand in there can really make a big difference in perceptions with

Speaker 1:

Excellent. I love that. So let me ask you a new question, your biases on the news, and we're talking about it all over the place. So, you know, the question that we have is are humans inherently biased or flawed in evaluating candidates capabilities and is artificial intelligence finally ready to just step in?

Speaker 3:

I think about this a lot bias is inherent in kind of information processing. People have to do it. It's the way that we are able to filter our world. Um, you know, a by-product of that can be stereotyping in a negative way, of course, but, but we've been doing that for a long time. So human based assessments, you know , uh, many, many times it's, you know, for high volume, you might automate it some, but in general there's opportunity for humans to inject bias into the process, you know, before AI even existed , um, AI can do it too. And in fact, AI is often trained by human bias to be biased. So I don't necessarily think it's , um, you know, there's a clean silver bullet answer here. The answer is just to try and understand the sources of bias and to be able to , to do things, to mitigate it at every possible juncture when it comes to AI. That means understanding , um, not only, you know , how the AI was trained and set up what it's supposed to measure, but, but gosh, darn it. I'm gonna, you know , pound the desk , uh, do follow up analyses. You can, you can get the , the data that an AI based system generates just like a regular assessment and you can get performance, data and outcomes data, and you can build models and run, you know, all kinds of statistical conventions to see what their relationship is between the perfecter and the outcome doesn't matter if the predictor is tea leaves or, you know, shoe size or AI or whatever , um, you know, the, what you need to be doing is holding it accountable. And part of that process is, you know, demographic analysis ability to say, okay, well, people that are, you know , um, scoring at this level are, are essentially , um, not, it's not consistent across different protected classes or whatnot. So we have differences in scores based on something, but stocks people's , you know, true abilities or whatever, so it can get complicated. It just is important to be vigilant. And, you know, I'll say this as well. Um, and I've been saying this for decades , uh , hiring is a , it's a statistical game of probability. Um, if you are trying to hire plaid people and you don't have any plat people in the hiring funnel, guess what? You're not going to hire any plaid people. So go out and find some plat people. If, if you feel that's valuable , um , to your organization and , uh, you know, that's a big first step. And then you gotta look at every layer that you have and, and do what you can to mitigate bias there. We're never going to be perfect. Hiring's not perfect people. Aren't perfect. Um, AI is not perfect. We live in an imperfect world and, you know, thank goodness for that, right. If everything was perfect , um, our lives might be really boring. I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Very true, very true. But I do like your putting humanity back into the AI system that somebody actually programmed that. And so therefore there could be inherent bias in the moments there too. So yeah. You know , all of your, your psychometric activities around here looking into remove as much bias as you can through these things, I think is brilliant. Um, whether it's done in person or whether it's done through an AI interface is , is the right thing to do. So thank you. Appreciate that answer. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

You're welcome.

Speaker 2:

And , uh , and Charles, I'm , I'm glad to hear, there's still room in the recruitment and candidate experience to have tea leaves from time to time. What about,

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, let's hope that nobody's using those, but as it's a hyperbole ,

Speaker 2:

Um, let's talk a bit about job fit versus organization fit Charles . Well , when it comes to hiring candidates who hopefully stay and grow with the company, his culture fits more important than the credentials and prior experience or the candidate .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. That's a correct question too . You know, I've been modeling that , um, you know, lately as , um , I've, I've equated it to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. If it's a really foundational psychological theory that they told us in grad school had no practical application, but , uh, but I love it anyway. So it's ParaMed, right. And at the bottom of the pyramid is , um , the whole goal I'll just quickly summarize it is to reach the tip of the pyramid, which is self-actualization, that's like being who you truly are , um, being in a job in a situation where you feel like there's just this deep connection and it's right for you and who you truly are. That's an amazing state of Nirvana that we're, you know, hopefully , uh, chasing, but T to get there, you've got to start with the bottom layer, which is really just food, clothing, shelter, the basic stuff you can't grow as a person, if, if you're cold and hungry. Right. So , um, the analogy there for me is , uh, in hiring is those the basic building blocks of abilities and skills that you have to have, you know, to be able to do the job, they may not be jobs specific necessarily they could be abilities like, oh, you're a really great critical thinker. Um, you know, we need that in an employee , um, as, as opposed to, oh , you know, people that are applying for , um, a job as a, an analyst need to be critical thinkers. There's a subtle difference there. Um, and that opens up the equation to , uh, looking for people outside of the traditional realms, like we were talking about earlier. And then from there, the next layer up it's typically is going to be, you know , um, some psychological , uh, in Maslow's world , psychological connection of , um, you know, safety and love and belonging. So to me, that's where I feel like the organization fit comes into the equation. The organization is going to give you an opportunity to , um, to tell yourself to, to find that meaningful work, because the environment is really congruent with what you need to be successful in your , in your mind and what you want to achieve without that layer. Um, you can't make it to that top layer. So then , then I really look at that top layer is what I've been talking about as culture add , which is, you know, finding people who can add by being who they truly are, who can add to the party, if you will, can bring something that is unique , uh, that allows them to, to not only, you know, be themselves, but to help the company leverage who they truly are. And so that's, you know, that's some pie in the sky stuff I just talked about, but there's a lot of reality to it. And I think that I wasn't even planning, reviewing, or talking about that model, but thinking about it, jeez , it seems to fit the question pretty well. So

Speaker 2:

Wonderful. It certainly does. Thank you very much. Um, so you were talking about culture fit and then culture ads is, is culture ad , uh, the best predictor of job performance then Charles. And this goes to another podcast episode , uh , on the fantastic science for hire , uh , show that you did with, I think it was bass fender , but Amanda battered is that right there ? Tell us a bit about,

Speaker 3:

I don't know how to, I love boss . I don't know how to pronounce his last name exactly. Either. Um , but I talked to him all the time. He's got some really great ideas, so , um, you know, it's, it's a good question. I don't necessarily know that it's an ingredient that's important, right? Culture add , also speaks to really the, at a group or team level outcome. It's what is somebody adding to the overall equation? So I would look at it more as, you know, hiring for culture. Add one of the key byproducts of it is higher level of performance at the aggregate level amongst the work group , um, you know, amongst an organization, but usually more at the team level , um, obviously contribution , um, you know, the more they're motivated and excited and kind of on fire about what they get to do every day. I would assume their performance is going to be better. And even if they have some inherent developmental needs , um, if you put them in a good nurturing environment and they're motivated to , to do better, they'll learn they'll, they'll, they'll grow and , uh, and become even better at the things that are needed of them. Um, so I think it is, but, you know, I don't always think about it as a one-to-one. I think about it a little more holistically for the organization and its teams.

Speaker 1:

Great. Well , our time is about up . So as we look to wrap up, we like to ask all of our guests, the following question from a culture and people processes perspective, what does a high performing company mean to you?

Speaker 3:

Hmm, that's a great question. Okay. So dramatic pause here. Um, you know, a high performing company, a is a company that cares, first of all , um, more and more to , to be a high performing company. You , you gotta have people making that happen. Um, and to have people make that happen, you got to care about your people. You've got to care about how your people contribute to what you're going to do, and you've got to use your people to help you figure out your path forward. So it's really , uh , all about respecting people, managing people , um, building with people. Uh, and so there's a million ways we can do that. Right? One of the, one of the, you know , we have so much technology now to support that, to right , to create efficiencies and to bring things to the surface. One thing I've been talking about lately, I just got to mention this because I want to spread it is that , um, I have seen , uh, you know, the concept of HR being reframed as work tech. And I liked that a lot. You know, we're starting to talk about , um, technology and work, as opposed to the , the kind of the smaller ends of human resources. Um, even though, and the common link is , is people. And so that's why I mentioned that. So , uh , that's it, you know , uh, do the best thing you can for your people and yourself, and, you know, think about , uh, best practices that support those things and , uh, and execute on them .

Speaker 2:

Wonderful. I used to run a podcast called working tech. Actually, there we go. What about

Speaker 3:

A your time

Speaker 2:

Just to watch just for once . Um, Hey , uh , Charles, before we wrap up, how can our listeners learn more about you, perhaps your LinkedIn email address, wherever you want to send them? And also, how can they learn more about rocket?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean, obviously our website, which Google rocket hire that'll come up, LinkedIn, my page, just Google my name. Uh , we have a podcast as well. That's accessible through all the major channels and also through our website . So I'm , I'm not hard to find.

Speaker 2:

Perfect. Well, that just leaves us to say for today, Charles , thank you very much for being a guest on this episode of the people and performance podcast.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Thanks so much. I really look forward to listening to the podcast and continuing to be a listener and a fan of y'all's .

Speaker 2:

This podcast is supported by Fidela Inc. A consulting firms specializing in improving human performance through their products and services. Fidelio helps clients design develop and implement strategic integrated human resource processes and systems learn more@fidelity.com . That's F I D E L L o.com.