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How skills based hiring differs from experience based hiring

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains how skills based hiring differs from experience based hiring

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So it differs in a number of key ways, okay? And we first, of course, need to define exactly what we mean by these concepts. Now, traditional hiring practices, unfortunately, up until this point, have been what we would deem experience based hiring, okay? With the underlying logic being that, well, past performance is indicative of future performance.

That's the underlying logic, the philosophy that underpins experience based hiring. Instead of measuring the things that matter, we infer them from something that happened in their past. For example, if you're looking at someone's ability to solve problems and make decisions and to learn, instead of giving an assessment designed to measure that, you will infer it either from educational achievements, level of education, maybe even where they were educated.

Saying this out loud, you can easily see how this is a mental reach. Even at very prestigious universities. Cognitive ability, a person's ability to learn and solve problems is going to be normally distributed. Okay, and you're going to have some very high performers and some very low performers. Okay? But in the minds of employer organisations, that's good enough.

It's called the ecological fallacy. And experience based hiring falls for the ecological fallacy just head over heels. Okay, so logically it never really stood up. It certainly doesn't optimise any element of the hiring process, save perhaps for convenience. Because it's super easy to just pick up a CV and say, "Okay, they went to this university, I'm not hiring them."

Or, "okay, they have this many UCAS points. Or, okay, they worked at this organisation, therefore we move them to the next stage." That's how it works. That's how it's always worked. And unfortunately, it's never been optimal. But additionally, not only is it not optimal from a psychometric perspective, but it's just sort of not fair, in that people from relatively privileged positions, people from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, They can just accrue these experiences more easily.

They can get into prestigious universities more easily. They can do unpaid internships at top firms more easily. Okay? And it says nothing about their level of skill, just their connections, just their amount of free time, just their disposable income that has a number of deleterious effects on the world, but certainly within organisations, that's what an experience based hiring process is just rewards people for.

Filling out a CV, fundamentally, in a way that would be intuitively appealing to a recruiter. Now, skills based hiring attempts to rid us of this logic. The logic is, okay, we have these skills which we know are important to the role, where do you stand on each of these skills? And we're going to hire the person, or people, who score highest on these criteria.

Now, not only does that avoid the awkward issue of privilege, Because it doesn't matter which university you went to. It doesn't matter how many UCAS points you've got. It just doesn't matter where you've worked, where you've done an internship. It doesn't matter who you know. It's just about what you can do.

And that not only gets the heart of performance in the workplace more efficiently, it expands your applicant pool, and that's a really, really big advantage that people don't seem to realize. So, for example, if you have these stringent criteria: they have to have gone to some university, they must have a certain number of UCAS points, must have done an internship at one of three organisations; you get maybe a hundred applicants.

And realistically, those applicants are not going to be a great deal better on average than any other. Whereas if you drop those silly requirements and just use assessments to identify the skills and abilities that are important to you, You could have a thousand applicants. Okay. And if you're looking to take 10 in the organisation, you know, the top 10 percent of a hundred is going to be pretty good.

Maybe. The top 1 percent of a thousand are going to be stellar. That's a really big difference. There's an order of magnitude difference by expanding your applicant pool, you can just get more access to top talent and putting up artificial barriers like: educational requirements, where they went to university, organisations they previously worked at, other CV filler, okay?

Dropping those requirements allows you to access a much bigger, broader, more diverse pool of candidates and just have access to better people. It saves you from a lot of tedious admin going through CVs. It doesn't cost you anything except your time and, you know, effort, whereas using psychometrics, using pre employment tests, you can automate that process very efficiently.

You can test thousands of people more or less instantly and get a very good shortlist. Okay, so it's, it respects the time of the HR professionals and talent acquisition staff, hiring managers. It's much more efficient, more effective, fairer. It just seems like an obvious win win in every way. So those are the big differences.

The investment into time and cost will be immediately returned to you after the first round of hiring, because the quality of hire will be so much greater.

It's just a no brainer.