Skill Based Hiring

Skill Based Hiring – Are You Hiring the Right Person

Think back to your last hire. How did you go about sourcing, screening, and ultimately selecting someone for the position? Most likely the candidate(s)  were screened by education and experience then used a traditional interview process to find a good fit. If you were lucky, you made the right choice. But most often such methods result in poor hiring decisions not because you didn’t know what’s needed for that role, but because it’s hard to figure out how good someone is from a resume.

That’s why skill-based hiring is producing much better results, because it involves hiring the key skills required for a certain job. These skills could be mathematical or cognitive, or soft skills such as exceptional people skills or customer service. The advantage here is that when you screen and hire someone best skilled for a particular position, you save on possible frustration on behalf of both, your organization and the candidate.

It is also easier to train people hired to match a defined skillset, and they tend to have a deeper understanding of what’s required of them. Several other benefits stack up quickly thanks to the increased productivity when you focus on a candidate’s capabilities rather than education, academic ranking or years of experience.

Why older ways won’t work

Existing practices eliminate candidates who have learned skills outside of work or school, as well as those candidates who haven’t optimized their resumes to conform to applicant tracking system barriers. Another problem with traditional approaches to hiring is that skills are usually assessed much later in the hiring process. Organizations bring in candidates that meet their requirements, such as a college degree and a certain number of years of experience in a similar role, without assessing if the candidate has the skills necessary to get the job done.

Hiring the right stuff

Senior executives often consider a college degree as a substitute for hard and soft skills, thus minimizing the pool of viable candidates. Skill-based hiring requires a decisive shift from degree- and pedigree-based hiring to a competency-based approach. If we move beyond our current fixation on the degree and include a wider set of evaluation criteria, it can open up new pipelines to find talent as well as offer greater opportunities for non-degreed job seekers. It could also mean lower employee churn.

Though technology companies have been the pioneers in embracing a skills-based approach to hiring (Google, Apple, IBM, Bank of America, and even Starbucks changed their hiring methods a while ago and no longer require a degree for competitive roles), it applies to any domain. There have been several instances of organizations rewriting a job posting without the degree requirement and getting flooded with high-quality candidates bringing varied life experiences and new ways of thinking to the table.

Making a mindset change easy

Switching your hiring model to skills-based hiring requires a significant time investment, rewriting job descriptions based on required skills, and centering the hiring process around verifiable skills. Changing traditional methods has never been easy. But in this case the good news is that HR professionals new to skill-based hiring don’t have to start from scratch. There are both proprietary (like HackerRank) as well as open-source tools available today to help train HR teams as well as hiring managers, with evaluating competencies and skills, writing job descriptions, and with using inclusive interviewing techniques. For instance, hiring managers can be guided to understand that technical knowledge is the preliminary rather than the concluding step.

Is This the Way of the Future?

Until recently, conventional hiring methods implied that you can’t get a good job until you’ve earned your degree. But there has been a gradual shift in the way companies hire new talent. When your hiring challenge is finding candidates with niche skills, traditional hiring strategies aren’t as effective for identifying top candidates as creative challenges. Google does something unique, with billboards, putting a tricky mathematical puzzle up for all to see. Anyone who solves the billboard puzzle will unlock a URL with another puzzle, which if solved, leads to an offer to apply. For instance, most HR leaders agree that sourcing and hiring a high-calibre HR business partner (HRBP) is hard because a key requirement for this role is the ability to understand business needs. An HRBP has to develop a plan for what types of candidates to recruit, interview, and hire has to increase diversity or bring new skill sets into the company. For a technology enterprise, the ideal HRBP may not be someone with an MBA in HR, but instead a software engineer with HR and business sensibilities. So traditional hiring must give way to more creative, innovative techniques.

This becomes especially important because as the modern workplace evolves, finding the talent your company truly needs to thrive can be difficult. The skills we need to succeed in the modern workforce are not static. While higher education and past experience are solid indicators of a good match for a role, there’s an increasing need for employers to verify relevant candidate skills. Introducing skill assessment tests in the recruitment process helps hiring managers assess hands-on skills; understand whether the candidates possess the important job skills, problem solving skills and their learning proficiency.