What I talk about when I talk about… |||

Towards a more inclusive recruitment process, part 3: assessment

Photo of a microscope Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

This is the third post in a four-part series of, erm, I can’t say at this stage – I’ll update this when the other part(s) go up – in which I’m summarising and reacting to the responses to a post I put up on LinkedIn “looking for ideas on how to set up a recruitment process as inclusive and equitable as possible, from job ad to joining”.

Part 1: Ads
Part 2: Applications
Part 4: Interviews

This post has some tips for dealing with assessment. Part 4 will cover interviews specifically.

Be clear with candidates on the process and set them up for success

Rosalyn Vaughan (amongst other nuggets of gold):

Ask yourself at every stage “is this designed to get the best out of the candidate”. It’s amazing how many interviews feel like the company is trying to trip you up.

Setting candidates up for success might feel like a strange thing to do for a process that’s set up to find one person to pull ahead of the pack and emerge as a ‘winner’. But my mindset about recruitment is the same as my mindset as a leader: I want to create an environment in which people can be the best, authentic versions of themselves and deliver their best work.

Also, whether you think you’re in a hirer’s market or a candidate’s market, interviews are two-way processes. As a candidate, if I pick up bad vibes from the recruitment process and I don’t feel like I’m being set up for success, I’m thinking the company’s not going to be one I want to work for.

The job ad is a good starting place to make sure candidates are aware of how many stages there are in your process, what’s involved, and what timings you’re working to. You should also work with your recruitment partners to make sure they themselves are well briefed and able to pass good quality information on to candidates.

Set a fair and standardised scoring system in advance

Scoring can apply to initial applications or interview performance.

Ideally, you decide at the time of writing the job ad what you are going to score candidates against and define how you will assess the actual score. Failing that, at least do this before you start seeing any candidates or assessing any CVs, to minimise the risk of you moving the goalposts and/or choosing a scoring system that will confirm any prejudgement.

There should be congruence – or a golden thread, if you like – between your competency framework, performance assessment, role spec, job ad and candidate assessment. When you pick the scoring criteria, make them relevant to the role spec and the job ad.

Have a diverse assessment panel

Aaron Morris:

Create a diverse interview panel: Include individuals from different backgrounds, genders & levels of seniority to evaluate from various perspectives.

If you can, involve as diverse a range of people as you can throughout recruitment. This doesn’t just apply to interviews. You can and should also involve your diverse panel while setting up your recruitment process, drafting job ads, and shortlisting applications.

Even more ideally, a diverse working group can help set up the competency framework – on which you should base your role spec and job ad – so as not to enforce a narrow view of ‘good’. Again, a golden thread from competency framework, performance assessment, role spec, job ad through to candidate assessment is the thing to aim for.

Don’t set homework or create a task that requires unreasonable preparation

I’ve been burnt by this myself, when I’ve been set a task then spent time and effort on ‘homework’ to be done in my own time. My main issue is I’m yet to see one of these set up in such a way that it’s clear what the ask is and what evidence is being sought. The counter to this complaint is usually “But that would make it too easy” to which my counter-counter argument is “In a real-world situation, when the brief isn’t clear, the kind of person I want to hire would ask for more information, instead of using up valuable minutes of their life on a fruitless task based on mind-reading that may or may not hit the mark.”

To bring this back to inclusivity, as Öznur Örkut said:

I would also consider getting rid of design tasks to avoid biasing for candidates who can spend time on exercises vs those who can’t, due to additional responsibilities (folks working multiple jobs, folks with care responsibilities, parents, etc).

In response, Niall Colbert added:

This is very valid. I was once given a programming mini project that would have taken a few days full-time to complete. While working full-time and in education part-time. It was a no go and I pulled my application

When I’ve been a hiring manager for roles where it’s appropriate to ask someone to present a case study of relevant work, I’ve made a point of saying that I don’t want to see a special, polished presentation – I’m genuinely more interested in seeing scrappy drafts, wireframes, scamps and work in progress that illustrate the underlying thought process. Sure, there’s an element of preparation needed, but at least at the levels I’m recruiting at right now, it shouldn’t be a huge effort for the candidates I’m seeing to choose some working docs and talk me through them.

Part 4 will be on the interview part of the recruitment process. Yeah, it’s technically part of the assessment process but I didn’t want to make this post even longer than it already is.

Part 1: Ads
Part 2: Applications
Part 4: Interviews

Up next Weeknote for the week ending 19 March 2023 Weeknote for the week ending 9 April 2023
Latest posts Zwift Play on the Wahoo Kickr Bike v2 – first impressions Song of the week: Angela’s Eyes – Guy Garvey Song of the week: The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death – The Housemartins Weeknote for the week ending 23 April 2023 Towards a more inclusive recruitment process, part 4: interviews Weeknote for the week ending 9 April 2023 Towards a more inclusive recruitment process, part 3: assessment Weeknote for the week ending 19 March 2023 Why I write Weeknote for the week ending 12 March 2023 Weeknote for the week ending 5 March 2023 Towards a more inclusive recruitment process, part 2: applications Weeknote for the week ending 26 February 2023 The puzzling gap between how old you are and how old you think you are – The Atlantic 550+ Journal Prompts: The Ultimate List – Day One blog Weeknote for the week ending 19 February 2023 RIP, Trugoy the Dove Towards a more inclusive recruitment process, part 1: ads Apple Music Replay 2022 First trap