Monday, October 27, 2008

Automated Screening and Assessment Can Level Candidate Playing Field

Automated candidate screening and assessment solutions have become standard practice for many employers in the race to hire and retain talent in a shrinking labor market. Technology exists not only to assess skills and competencies, but also culture fit and work style, which can be reliable indicators of job performance and retention. However, few realize the benefits such technology affords in terms of objectively recruiting people with disabilities and leveling the playing field for all candidates.

Automated candidate screening and assessment solutions can be delivered via multiple methods - Web, phone, kiosk or table PC - and make it easy for anyone to apply and be interviewed regardless of mobility challenges or disabilities. Further, by removing the face-to-face aspect of a conventional interview, candidates need not be concerned the interviewer will be distracted by their disability rather than focusing on the interview's content.

Applying for jobs via technology compels an employer to make a determination based only on the candidate's responses to questions and assessments, as opposed to appearances or information presented on a one-dimensional resume.

Traditional hiring processes typically screen out unqualified candidates, leaving employers to hire those who fit minimum qualifications. This creates what is essentially a double jeopardy for persons with disabilities. It becomes easy to focus on restrictions the disability presents rather what the person may be able to do in spite of any challenges.

Advanced automated interviewing systems driven by artificial intelligence can be set up to adjust questioning appropriately, seamlessly and diplomatically when such situations arise - even routing the interview to a different line of questioning for jobs for which the candidate may be better-suited. In short, this process can screen in candidates based on the skills and competencies they possess. Conversely, face-to-face interviews can lead to the determination a person is not suited for an advertised position. The conversation is effectively terminated, rather than initiating a discussion to explore alternatives.

Synchronizing the assessment process via Web and phone also gives rise to the use of job simulations. For example, the employer can have a customer service simulation in which several screens of information are available to the applicant on the desktop. The candidate is then charged with negotiating the screens while responding to a variety of service calls. This provides all candidates with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and proficiency to handle the job.

Web-based interviews can be structured to ensure compliance with Section 508 requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Additionally, using a properly configured automated solution erases the potential for human error, such as asking potentially discriminatory questions during a face-to-face interview.

While objectivity and fairness should be the mantra of any interview and assessment, an automated system can document each question asked, the answer provided and the basis for the overall assessment. With the EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' aggressive interest in systemic discrimination, this detailed documentation can prove invaluable in proactively safeguarding the hiring process from negative outcomes such as litigation and compliance-related fines.

Most important, using an automated screening and assessment solution provides all candidates with a seamless and convenient process to apply for job openings. Moreover, it provides employers with an objective and reliable process for hiring and retaining qualified candidates who will be productive members of their workforces.

[About the Author: Ron Selewach is founder and CEO of the Human Resource Management Center.]

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