Ray Bixler, President and CEO of SkillSurvey, Writes in a recent issue of HRO Today, "In today's new war for talent, finding qualified workers is becoming increasingly difficult. In fact, a recent study by Leadership IQ tracked 20,000 new hires and found that 46 percent failed within 18 months." Welcome to a Talent Acquisition Channel Podcast on TotalPicture Radio, with Peter Clayton reporting. Ray Bixler joins us today to discuss The Power to Predict - Pre-hire assessment tools that mine data deliver true gold, and the right candidate for the job.
Questions Peter Clayton asks Ray Bixler in this Podcast:
Before we begin our discussion of predictive analytics in hiring, tell us about SkillSurvey.
Okay in my intro I pulled a statistic from your article - 46 percent of new hires failed within 18 months. That's like - half. What is the cost to employers?
You believe traditional reference checking, which has been around for decades, has become irrelevant and seldom used. Why so?
I want to dig a little deeper into this 46% number - is this across the board - hourly workers and senior executives?
You reference a Forbes article that listed evolving assessment science as one of the nine hottest trends in HR technology. How do you define assessment science?
Talk to us about pre-hire performance assessment data - what does this include, where does it come from, and how is it organized?
You site another important statistic in your article regarding hiring bias. In a study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board 74% of the respondents reported that their most recent hire had a personality "similar to mine." So much for diversity, right?
However you posit employers using assessment data can mitigate (at least to some extent) this bias toward hiring people who graduated from the same college as me. (A reference I've heard more than once.)
What about tools such as self-assessment and personality tests?
Many companies are mining social networks for background information on candidates. What can you tell us about this approach?
In a recent study, your company, SkillSurvey, examined the correlation between pre-hire performance assessment scores and actual performance on the job. What did you find?
Are the tools we've been discussing affordable to small and medium size companies?
What advice can you give HR managers tasked with evaluating pre-hire assessment tools?
TotalPicture Radio Transcript: Ray Bixler, SkillSurvey
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Ray Bixler, President and CEO of SkillSurvey writes in a recent issue of HRO Today, "In today's new war for talent, finding qualified workers is becoming increasingly difficult. In fact, a recent study by LeadershipIQ tracked 20,000 new hires and found that 46% failed within the first 18 months."
Hi, this is Peter Clayton. Welcome to a Talent Acquisition Channel podcast here on TotalPicture Radio. Ray Bixler joins us today to discuss the power to predict, pre-hire assessment tools that mine data, deliver true gold and the right candidate for the right job.
Ray, welcome to TotalPicture Radio.
Ray: Thank you Peter.
Peter: So before we get into the discussion of big data and predictive analytics, give us a little bit of a background on SkillSurvey.
Ray: Yeah, my pleasure Peter, and thanks for inviting me. So at our core, SkillSurvey reinvented the relevancy of the reference checking step in the hiring process. Actually, in fact, earlier this year, we received a patent on our solution and how it works. In a nutshell, we invented an online forum which means that it's available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It even has a mobile opportunity for people to complete their particular step using their mobile device of choice, that offers a confidential forum for business references, people who've either managed the applicant or colleagues or direct reports, to hear candid and thoughtful insight on that job applicant.
One of the things that we wanted to make sure that we did, Peter, is to ensure that references offered specific feedback that pertains to the job the applicants are applying for. We've created close to 400 behaviorally based surveys tailored to specific jobs so that the information that we get back from job references on the applicant really mattered to the role the applicants are applying for.
Peter: A couple of questions around that, Ray. You hear a lot of discussion today that reference checking is outdated, that it doesn't matter anymore and that basically all you're going to get from a reference check is the dates the employee worked there and perhaps their title. And because of legal, that's really all you're going to get. So how have you eclipsed that problem?
Ray: Actually, that is all you're going to get today if you still reference check using the phone. People work for organizations that have created very strict policies, not allowing them to say anything outside of verifying days of employment. So you are still accurate today with regards to phone-based reference checking. That's why we exist. That's why we created this version of an online solution that offers a level of confidentiality. And so to answer your question specifically, it's the confidentiality that the forum provides references to provide candid and thoughtful feedback in a way where it's aggregated, grouped together, if you will, where all the reference's feedback is offered up as a sum total of the overall reference's feedback to a recruiter or hiring manager, offering the entire total point of view from everybody involved. There's also a couple of other things that exist, that make things work.
So the personal request occurs within the SkillSurvey solution. It avoids or replaces a recruiter or hiring manager that a reference does not know with a personal request from the applicant who the reference knows personally, to get them to do the step. The applicant also signs a statement of waiver removing any potential liability if the reference is still concerned that they shouldn't be providing this information.
In the audiences we talked to, clearly our solution, we get people talking about reference checking. That's what we offer as a new way to do it, a better way to do it and all predictive and all the science underneath it all. When we talk to people about do they do reference checking, people will roll their eyes or basically just laugh out loud saying, you've got to be kidding me. I mean reference checking, yeah we'll go ahead and check the box and get dates of employment verified, but we can't get references to say anything substantive anymore around whether or not a person does the job well.
And so it's a very skeptical audience, a very skeptical group in the world that we live in, in HR and recruiting, where people just don't believe reference checking matters anymore, and I get it. People just can't get peoples' references to respond back to phone calls and/or answer any questions outside of again verifying if someone in fact worked somewhere.
Peter: Ray, sort of to that topic, we all know how time-restrained recruiters are today. They're dealing with probably at least 10 or 15 reqs that they're trying to fill. They don't have time to try to chase down reference checking and leave voicemails and knowing that people are never going to call them back anyway.
Ray: That's right, and yet they are conflicted because they know at the end of the day, if they don't reference check, so all they are going on to making a hiring decision is the self-reporting or the interview that the applicant is a part of. So at the end of the day, the only person involved is the applicant themselves, then they know they haven't really gathered all of the appropriate intel on the applicant before making the hiring decision. And therein lies the issue, going back to the reason for the call, 46% of people are gone within 18 months.
Peter: So what's the cost to employers?
Ray: That's a great question, one that certainly changes depending on who you're talking to. I mean you've seen the range is anywhere between 50% of someone's salary to much more than that, depending on again even the role that the person's moving into. So somebody who's going to be a leader of a team of people is going to impact that entire team. And so while they may be gone within 18 months, they may have also created some sort of turnover issue within the team. Certainly morale may be declining and in some cases, depending on the role, they could be impacting the overall company's performance.
So that range regarding the cost can be anywhere again from half of someone's salary to 2 or 3 times the amount.
Peter: Is this 46% across-the-board, hourly workers, up to senior executives or is it concentrated in one subset of the employee population?
Ray: The LeadershipIQ study covered the full range of positions, from hourly to senior level positions. They wanted to make sure that in their study, they encompassed every role imaginable. I know they did over 5,000 interviews with hiring managers and over 300 public or private organizations, including healthcare. So I think they really tried to span as much of the job spectrum that they could in the study.
Peter: Something else you referenced in your article that I found really interesting was a Forbes article that listed evolving assessment science as one of the 9 hottest trends in HR technology. Ray, how do you define assessment science? What is it?
Ray: Yeah, Peter, really at the end of the day, when anybody is looking to use an assessment in their hiring process, again it could be a personality assessment, it could be a skills assessment, it could be actually a highly interactive assessment that is live or it could even be our reference assessment - at the end of the day, that assessment needs to prove that it works.
To answer your question, how do you define assessment science, it has to prove that it works. So what does that mean? Does it predict an outcome? Does it predict someone's performance, meaning that if it predicted someone would perform well, did that person, in fact, perform well? Or if it predicted that somebody wasn't going to perform that well and you still needed to fill the seat, did that occur?
Ultimately, it's all around the data and the predictive outcomes from these assessments. Ultimately, what it then leads to is, does it positively impact other metrics, like turnover or retention or sales performance? If you're going to hire better salespeople using an assessment and it proves that, then your sales results should go up or even customer service ratings should go up, in fact, you're hiring better people based on the assessment technology that you're using.
Peter: To take this to another step here, talk to us about pre-hire performance assessment data. What does this include and where does it come from and how does it get organized?
Ray: When you look at the pre-hire performance assessment data, you are looking for data that really centers around how someone is going to perform in a particular role. You look at data ultimately as someone's work history, their job performance, what were their results when they were working with other organizations, their skills, their knowledge, whether it's degrees at universities or again the knowledge they grew over time. That's all the data you want to look at, and then of course, how is that data, where did it come from? Was it self-reported on a profile or on a self-reported assessment, be that again a personality assessment or a situational interactive one? Did you get that data from technology solutions? I know there are solutions like Guild and Talent and others out there that let you know if somebody's proficient in a certain skill set.
And then of course there's ours, which is an assessment that is filled out by former or current business colleagues offering their opinion.
Peter: You cite another important statistic in your article regarding hiring bias. In a study conducted by The Corporate Executive Board, 74% of the respondents reported that their most recent hire had a personality "similar to mine." So much for diversity, right?
Ray: I wanted that to get into the article because I couldn't believe that people...
Peter: That's a huge number!
Ray: It's a huge number and I understand that you want to work with people that you enjoy being around but at the end of the day, diversity really does matter.
One of the things that I've heard, Peter, consistently in interview practices, and I'm not saying best practices but just practices in general, is that if you feel comfortable with the person, could you drive across the country with this person, 24 hours in a car or if you were stranded in an airport, would this be somebody that I want to be around? What does it have to do with work?
I understand again it's important to have people that you're around and are comfortable with, but at the end of the day, to me, diversity is the most important thing that is necessary for businesses to see all perspectives before they're making the decision on whether it's a product build or something else, you need to have that very wide, diverse group of people working for you.
Peter: Yes, and in your article, you posit that employers using assessment data can mitigate at least to some extent, this bias towards hiring people who graduated from the same college or things like that. I've heard this referenced more than once, by the way, that people like to hire people who went to the same university they went to.
Ray: Oh no, absolutely. It allows people to be comfortable. It's the first thing they talk about in an interview and the next thing you know, the interview is 30 minutes long and they still haven't really gotten down to whether or not this person can do the job.
Peter: Exactly. What about tools such as self-assessment and personality tests that used to be very popular?
Ray: Yeah, they still are in some circles. Some people believe them and when I say believe them, they do believe that they can predict how someone might perform in a job. There are good personality assessments that, in fact, have the appropriate amount of science, validity and reliability that would suggest they, in fact, do a really nice job of predicting how someone might perform in a role.
The challenge with personality assessments is what I just mentioned twice there, is all they can do at best is predict how someone might perform. They really don't indicate whether or not someone has done their job well based on other people's points of view, and that's again where the SkillSurvey reference assessment solution comes in.
Peter: Many companies are mining social networks for background information on candidates, going in and looking at people's Twitter accounts and their Facebook profiles. What can you tell us about this approach?
Ray: This may be happening and clearly people are going on Facebook or Twitter. I know there's a very healthy debate about whether or not that's appropriate to do. But at the end of the day, it probably wouldn't help provide any sense about past performance or soft skills. And so, a lot of the stuff is not business-oriented. It certainly might provide insight if somebody has the appropriate behaviors necessary by posting something or not posting something. But at the end of the day, does it really matter with regards to how someone might perform in a role? I would say not.
Peter: And you're right, there is a lot of debate out there whether it's even legal to do so. And if you're doing it, if you're going out and doing it for one person, are you doing it for everyone?
Ray: That's correct.
Peter: In a recent study your company, SkillSurvey, examined the correlation between pre-hire performance assessment scores and actual performance on the job. So what did you find?
Ray: Yeah, Peter and this isn't just one study; we've now done 12 validity studies, really looking at post-hire outcomes and if offering references and opportunity to speak or offer candid, thoughtful insight on a job applicant, does it in fact matter? So just like any other personality assessment or any assessment of any kind, have we proven anything by offering references the opportunity to share that insight, and the answer always is yes in those 12 studies.
What does that mean? It means that we've actually been able to demonstrate through the references' points of view that in fact they will predict outcomes. They will let you know if somebody's going to be a star or not a star. This ultimately turns into if, in fact, you're using SkillSurvey, you will then do things like lower your turnover, improve your retention within the organization because at the end of the day, if you are hiring better people, if you are improving your hiring decisions, ultimately your turnover and other outcomes will improve.
Peter: Is what we've been discussing, the tools we've been discussing within SkillSurvey affordable to small and medium-sized companies?
Ray: Yeah, that's actually the beauty of the solution in what we offer is that this can be used for anybody who wants to improve their hiring decisions or improve getting feedback on their job applicants, SkillSurvey can certainly offer them a solution.
Peter: What advice can you give HR managers tasked with evaluating pre-hire assessment tools? What's the best approach to take?
Ray: When they're looking at any assessment tool, whether it's ours or anybody else's, they've got to really look for the experience of the solution, how long they've been in business and really can they, in fact, prove something along the lines of science. Can that assessment show that it has predicted outcomes for organizations?
In a scientific way, there are many scientific methods that people believe in, but there are those that are very closely monitored by I/O psychologists that matter the most. So they've got to really do their homework. Just taking somebody's word for it, looking at the marketing materials is one thing, really having candid conversations with the organization around their science and their validity, and their compliance, making sure that the assessment does not impact adversely or show any bias on all of the demographics of people that may be using it, making sure that all of that is covered.
Peter: So the moral of the story here is when you get into this, this is really is a science and it's not just fill in a couple of boxes with a few questions that somebody came up with.
Ray: Peter, just the one word that should be left here in this, science matters and is very important for assessments, absolutely.
Peter: Ray, thank you very much for taking time to speak with us today on TotalPicture Radio.
Ray: Peter, it was my pleasure and thank you for the opportunity.
Peter: Ray Bixler is President and CEO of SkillSurvey and you'll find this podcast in the Talent Acquisition Channel of TotalPicture Radio. That's totalpicture.com. Thank you. That was good, enjoyed it.
Ray Bixler is President and CEO of SkillSurvey. You'll find this podcast in the Talent Acquisition Channel of TotalPicture Radio. That's totalpicture.com. While there, sign up for our newsletter. It's free, easy and fast.
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Ray Bixler Biography:
Ray Bixler (Chief Executive Officer) has over 20 years of sales leadership and general management experience, Ray is a seasoned executive whose focus has been the management and improvement of client relationships, the development of client-focused marketing strategies, and new business development. Prior to joining SkillSurvey, Ray served as Vice President with Caliper, an organizational development consulting firm, where he consulted with hundreds of small and mid-size businesses and several F500 organizations in developing better hiring, development, performance management and succession planning strategies. Previous to that, he honed his management expertise at WorldCom/MCI and RCN Corporation. After attending Drexel University, Ray received his Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Immaculata University.
About Peter Clayton
Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.