Everyone is talking about automation and AI nowadays, but here we talk about automation to help your company screen more candidates and increase the quality of skills-based hiring.

In the last years several software solutions, mostly ATS (Application Tracking System), have introduced some sort of automation to help recruiters and talent professionals in screening candidates using keywords, skills, or some sort of parameters that could detect only the candidates that might be a fit for their positions.

Automating your candidate screening is particularly useful to accelerate your company’s hiring process and also to increase the quality of your hiring: you can evaluate more candidates and ideally find better people.

The ATS automation is the simplest way to automate your candidate screening process, while the real automation I am talking about is the ability to submit your candidates to a real test that can assess their skills and fit for your company, even before you talk to them for the first time. That’s how you can leverage automation to truly hire based on skills.

In the tech world, there are several solutions specifically designed to screen software developers (HackerRank is a famous one, and there are several others) while other solutions are more general purpose (TestGorilla is the first one that comes to mind).

In general, there are specific solutions but not many that are designed to test both soft and hard skills for candidates, more on this later in this article.

Several companies are often reluctant to use automation to test candidates and their skills, feeling it could make the entire process less human. The reality is that the right type of automation can be actually very good for candidates as it gives them a clear idea of what they will be asked to work on and sometimes can tell them more about your company culture.

How to position automation and screening based on skills the right way for candidates

I believe that companies need to explain in their process (and first on their career page) that they use automation to evaluate candidates and detail the entire process to show how that’s just one step. In my experience hiring for several roles worldwide (and across a lot of different departments and seniority levels), every candidate cares about one and one thing only: clarity of the recruiting process.

How long does it last, what are the steps, how his skills will be tested and will he receive feedback at the end? That’s why candidate screening automation, when correctly implemented, is a strong advantage to let the candidate start the process with the right mood.

The test or assignment you automatically assign to your candidates can be the very first step of the process, followed by an initial call with an HR person who can answer questions and deliver more information about the position.

At that point, you already know you are in front of someone who could be a fit, and it’s okay for the recruiting team to invest time in explaining the pros of the position and more about the company culture. After that you will likely set a call with the hiring manager as the last step in the process.

Look at the real savings using automation to screen candidates based on skills

Compared to a normal hiring process, automation usually saves a lot more time:

Your HR team spends 90% of their time talking to candidates that are already a fit for the role. Using automation and the ability to assess soft and hard skills, you end up viewing candidates that wouldn’t be selected just based on their resume.

With automated skills-based hiring there is a lot more objectivity in the process – and therefore more quality in your hiring – the candidates you have seen have all been evaluated with the same logic and assessments.

Your HR team has a lot more time that can be spent on existing employees and not just on hiring/recruiting.

The entire process takes 1/3 of the time due to the fact you don’t need to schedule multiple calls, go back and forth with several emails etc. For the company it means filling your roles much faster.

Now, let me talk a bit about us and what we have built to automate candidate screening with Job Simulations.

Our solution allows companies to create any type of virtual scenario, job role or task that can be used to assess soft and hard skills of your candidates.

Here is a demo of how it works for candidates in the current version:

The main difference compared to other solutions in this space is the ability to test candidates with a very immersive skills-based hiring experience that shows the company how they interact with others and not just their ability to solve a technical problem.

What type of companies and teams need to automate skills-based screening?

This is a common question, does my company need screening automation? The companies that are usually getting more benefits from automation are the ones that need to constantly hire a big number of people and roles. For this type of company it is particularly critical to avoid hiring mistakes as much as possible.

I am thinking about companies in the retail or manufacturing industry: in these cases you not only want to screen a large number of candidates without increasing your HR budget but you also want to tap into talent that doesn’t have the skills or titles you usually find.

The perfect example are companies that are constantly opening new stores across several markets, regions and cultures while also dealing with internal turnover: we have seen firsthand how solutions that automate the screening of their candidates based on skills give them the best advantages in terms of speed and quality.

But it’s not only a matter of numbers: if the company operates in a very competitive space, automation might help you map the skills of your workforce and expand the pool of candidates you want to meet.

Anthropos job simulations library

At Anthropos we are building a set of templates that can be easily customized for multiple roles and scenarios. As a company you select a Job Simulation based on the role you need to hire/test skills for and you can personalize all of it using our software. 

This is usually difficult with your HR team because they will somehow have some bias about specific experiences and skills and only an automated process can give you candidates that can absolutely do the job but you would have never discovered that from their application.

Last but not least, even inside the same organization you might have roles that can benefit from automated skills-based screening: your tech department will definitely benefit from it as well as your sales team (where it’s usually difficult to determine someone’s skills without seeing that person in action).

How to keep the candidate experience human

This is important, even if you are using automation to screen candidates, they need to have a great and human experience.

How can you do it? Clearly communicate before, during and after the interview process. In your career section there should be a section that explains how the process works and the fact that you use automated, skills-based assessments and solutions at the very beginning of it.

Do more: explain how that is an advantage for the candidate, it removes bias from the process and it helps everyone prove their skills, without looking at their experience and education. It’s something that people want more and more today: everyone knows how difficult it is to move to another role when your entire career has been just in one department.

During the process you use automation to also communicate to the candidate if he passed the test or not and provide feedback automatically: one thing that we have with Job Simulations is actually giving the candidate a final results page with the explanation of the score he got and what he could have done better.

And finally, I think you should take the time to send a message to everyone that went through the process and did not succeed. They might try again in the future and succeed but you can make a good impression as a company just once.

Keeping the entire process human is vital because in today’s world candidates refer jobs and companies to each other, can talk about them on social networks and ultimately help or damage your brand as an employer.

The fact that you automate the screening process is not the issue if managed well, the way you communicate is always the critical component to keep the process human and enjoyable.

Let candidates learn more about your values, vision and culture

Candidates are usually scraping the web looking for information about your company culture, what the company does and how it will evolve.

I remember interviewing candidates that spent a ton of time reading our Glassdoor and getting questions based on what they were reading there. It’s normal and I see more and more candidates worry about the culture and vision of their employers.

Automation during the screening process can be a great occasion to show them a bit more about your company.

The way we have done it with Job Simulations is letting companies create 100% custom scenarios that reflect what the candidate will find in the organization.

An example of how I can learn more about Medsoftware (a company we completely invented) just asking my manager during the Job Simulation for Product Managers. 

For example: if you are applying for a sales role, candidates will be asked to prove their skills selling exactly your product in your industry and interact with stakeholders that are as similar as possible to the ones they will find in the real job.

Not only that: in one job simulation one of our customers has created an HR virtual character that can answer questions about the company, the vision and the products so that candidates can actually talk to the HR during the simulation to learn more about the values and the vision of the organization (and use that to do a better assignment).

How to measure the ROI of skills-based screening automation

Once you have adopted automation in your hiring process you will likely want to understand how things are improving and what’s the real return of your investment. I would like to tell you that everything will be 10x better after a few months.

Why? Because hiring is a complex process and the ONLY way to measure it is looking at the quality of the people that join your organisation.

But there are definitely numbers and changes you can monitor from day one:

Quality of the candidates the hiring managers meet: go ask them, they will tell you if the candidates they are meeting are better than before and why.

Diversity of profiles you attract for your positions: diversity means meeting people that come from a different industry, experience and role and still, they can nail the job!

The number of weeks spent to fill your positions: a very classic KPI, your HR team will be the first one enjoying this.

Feedback you get from candidates: they will always send your team emails or comments after positive or negative selections. It’s even better if you go and randomly ask for feedback on the interview experience.

Budget saved for your HR operations: this is critical for your CFO of course, what you usually see with candidate screening automation is

After a few months or a year you can also monitor a critical KPI: turnover and retention. Are the candidates hired using automated screening staying more inside your organization? Have you been able to reduce employee turnover?

If yes it gives you a ton more data to understand why their profiles and skills are a better fit for your organization.

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