5 Ways of Using Behavioural Psychology in Employee Recruitment

The human resources sector is facing one of the greatest shakedowns in its history caused by work-from-home arrangements, labour shortages, increased rates of employee unionisation and the greater demand for business innovation.

In such conditions, recruiters need to become as effective as ever. To provide value, nearly every hire has to become a ‘hit’ with their colleagues, their supervisors and, when relevant, with the end consumers.

Ensuring that recruitment is consistently spot-on is incredibly difficult; however, there are ways for making recruiters’ jobs much easier. In this article, we outline the benefits of behavioural psychology and apply this field to contemporary employee recruitment.

What Is Behavioural Psychology?

In its simplest form, behavioural psychology is tasked with measuring human behaviours. Behaviours are typically conceptualised as observable outcomes caused by certain environmental factors (e.g., job-related stress) or past events in an individual’s life.

Summarily, behavioural psychology applies the ‘hard science’ approach to human behaviours. Of course, there exists at least some degree of irrationality in how we behave. Nevertheless, job-related behaviours can be reliably linked to factual, observable and measurable factors.

Behavioural psychology suggests that CVs are of very limited use. Instead, companies would benefit from evaluating prospective hires based on their current and predicted behaviours. Such a change in recruitment and assessment practices could increase team performance and improve employee engagement.

While the above targets are lofty, there’s little doubt behavioural psychology can deliver on all of its promises. If all of this sounds like a pipe dream, consider the following five benefits of behaviour-based recruitment.

  1. Providing a Valid Alternative to Outdated Practices

Let’s face it, virtually everyone is getting tired from the bog-standard recruitment process involving CVs or references from past places of employment. Similarly, very few applicants appreciate participating in unorthodox assessment exercises featuring obscure and difficult-to-answer questions.

Behavioural-based recruitment is a valid replacement for both of these approaches. Behavioural psychology avoids CVs and letters of recommendation in favour of structurally measuring factual behaviours. Compared to other recruitment methods, this strategy provides recruiters with much more relevant information about an applicant’s qualities.

Behavioural psychology also does not involve anything obscure or metaphysical. Applying this school of thought to employee recruitment produces reliable and easy-to-interpret results. Such data is free of biases existing in established recruitment instruments and presents an objective picture of just what an applicant could bring to the table within the business environment.

  1. Avoiding Recruiter Bias

Bias (either conscious or unconscious) constitutes a very real threat to employee recruitment. Even if an applicant is talented and eager to work, recruiters may ignore them in favour of less skilled hires due to their prejudices, past experiences and perceived social norms.

Assessments based on behavioural psychology eliminate this issue entirely. In such evaluations, applicants are provided with scientifically-backed lists of tasks that have been verified time and time again by well-known scholars.

Subsequently, recruiters are provided with objective and valid indicators of an individual’s propensity toward certain behaviours. In such an environment, being biased becomes all but impossible as the results of behavioural assessments are valid and can easily be replicated by other recruiters.

  1. Providing Firms With a Diverse Talent Pipeline

For a lot of businesses, diversity is not just a buzzword but a valuable means of ensuring the acquisition and retainment of talented employees.

However, modern recruitment processes can unconsciously discriminate against diverse talent. For instance, no matter their skills, it may be difficult for applicants from impoverished areas to gain job experience and ‘beef up’ their CVs.

Behavioural assessments ensure fairness by providing a valid alternative to CV-based assessments. As all applicants are provided with the same list of tasks and are measured against objective indicators, there is little risk that the recruitment process will be biased against ethnic minorities or the representatives of the LGBTQ+ community.

  1. Facilitating Recruitment Progression

Presently, many businesses rely on multi-stage recruitment and assessment processes. Such procedures typically involve CV evaluations, personal interviews and take-home assignments.

While this approach is perfectly valid, it can also be very time-consuming and expensive. As there are few objective measurements of candidate performance at each stage, it can be impossible to determine which candidates should be advanced in the recruitment process.

Applying behavioural assessments at the early stages of recruitment quickly and efficiently addresses this problem. As discussed by Arctic Shores, a provider of behaviour-based applicant assessments, personality assessments evaluate “whether a candidate is a good fit for a specific role, the company’s culture, or perhaps even both”. Recruiters relying on such tools can promptly ‘weed out’ unsuitable candidates, saving time and money for everyone involved.

  1. Bridging the Gap Between Industries

Due to increased rates of business model innovation, the gaps between industries are eroding by the minute. For instance, financial services firms may create in-house departments for launching cryptocurrency-based products, requiring candidates skilled in software development.

This presents a significant problem for traditional recruitment as this approach lacks any tools for objectively measuring an employee’s aptitudes or personality. In the above example, the firm may end up hiring top-level developers. However, if the candidates lack communication skills, such a team could end up in perpetual conflict with the core financial services departments.

Behavioural psychology measures aptitudes (e.g., logical reasoning) that are of equal value to companies regardless of the industry they are operating in. By also assessing candidates’ personalities, this approach provides valid knowledge about how exactly applicants would fit into existing teams or departments. The results of behavioural assessments represent objective qualities of relevance to all possible industries.

While traditional approaches to recruitment have had a good run, the recent changes in the labour market mean that it’s high time to implement something new and effective. Behavioural psychology is just the thing to address this need by providing valid and reliable means of assessment. By outsourcing behavioural evaluations to trusted providers of such services, businesses will avoid recruiter bias, ensure the hiring of diverse talent and facilitate business model innovation.

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