For over 13 years, the reality singing competition has captivated, dare I say hypnotized, American television audiences. It started in 2002 with American Idol, and—as far as TV networks are concerned—won’t stop until they’ve forced every last person with any ounce of talent into our car stereos and Spotify playlists.
So when NBC introduced The Voice in 2011 I was…skeptical to say the least. Why did we need another prime time karaoke competition?
But The Voice was different. Not only did the celebrity judges “draft” singers to their respective teams instead of judging their performances alone, but they also had to pick singers with their backs turned to them. They couldn’t pick on appearance, hair color or gender. They had to choose based on what the name of the show suggests. The person’s voice.
So what does this have to do with recruiting? Until a few days ago…I assumed nothing. As I’ve alluded to in recent posts, human nature wants us to make poor hiring decisions. It wants us to choose people like ourselves and wants us to make judgments early in the interview process—like 10 seconds into the interview early.
All of this leads to hiring the wrong person who might perform well in an interview, but not on the job, and a not-so-great candidate experience for the majority of applicants.
The good news is there’s a solution. And evidently the solution is The Voice. At least that’s what inspired Peter Vujosevic to create GapJumpers.
The premise of GapJumpers is simple. Employers post a job opening along with a challenge for the applicant. This challenge can be anything from producing a content strategy to designing a webpage. And like Blake Shelton or Adan Levine, employers sit back in their red chairs waiting to press the “I Want You” button.
“We believe that great talent is everywhere, but they don’t usually have the access and opportunity to prove themselves to great employers,” GapJumpers says on their website. “At GapJumpers, we are transforming hiring by making talent selection meritocratic and transparent.”
So let’s breakdown this method of recruiting and how you can implement it into your everyday recruiting practices by examining GapJumpers’ three main principles.
Attract more diverse talent by holding blind screening challenges
Here’s the problem with conventional “insert-name-and-attach-resume-here” recruiting. Oftentimes, the hardest working and most talented candidates sink to the bottom of the application pile or don’t even apply because they feel like they won’t fit the ideal criteria.
Let’s look at how The Voice operates (at least the first few rounds). If you have talent you have a shot. It’s not a beauty contest. There aren’t screenings to eliminate contestants who didn’t attend Berklee College of Music or some other prestigious music school. You simply show the judges what you can do with your voice.
And for GapJumpers, this is the way companies should operate as well.
“An unintended byproduct of having a platform that asks a question instead of a resume, is that more diverse people were applying to these companies because they could identify themselves in the problem, whereas they couldn’t always identify themselves in the job description,” Vujosevic told KUT.
In your own recruiting, think about what kind of candidates are applying for your job postings. Are you creating a candidate experience that includes people you may not have thought about for the job posting? Your ideal candidate could come from anywhere and it’s your job to ensure your company is receptive and ready when he or she applies.
Avoid discarding talent that does not fit pre-conceived notions
We all like to pretend we don’t “judge a book by its cover” when meeting someone for the first time. After all, it’s 2015 and we should be past this by now.
Well…unfortunately, science would like to (respectively) disagree. There is power in the first impression, and it can be more influential than we think.
“I couldn’t care less what people say…I’m interested in what takes place instantaneously, reflexively, subconsciously, and immediately,” said Frank J. Bernieri, psychology professor at the University of Toledo. “People do judge books by their covers [and] first impressions are going to predict final impressions.”
Bernieri, along with one of his students, Tricia J. Prickett, make this case in some interesting research about how little words matter in the first 30 seconds of an interview. What does matter? Facial expressions, physical beauty and in some cases, even the lapel of the interviewees suit jacket.
In their study, Bernieri and Prickett showed untrained evaluators 20-32 second clips of job applicants meeting interviewers for the first time. (These were edited clips from longer 20-minute interviews). The evaluators proceeded to rate each interviewee on likability, competence and a handful of other traits. Bernieri and Prickett then compared these evaluations to the actual ones completed by the interviewer after the 20-minute interview. And what they found was the grades didn’t differ much at all. That even after talking with the interviewee for an additional 20 minutes, it didn’t change the interviewers perception at the end.
And while many recruiters will disagree, this study does show how our brains can oftentimes work against us to make a bad hiring decision. To hire the candidate like us. The candidate who went to the same college as us. The candidate who rides the same train to work as us.
Thinking about a job posting like GapJumpers practically eliminates this way of recruiting because you are judging the candidate on actions alone. You don’t know what they look like or what they are wearing and you can’t rely solely on an interview or the person’s background. Look at the candidate’s accomplishments. Look at how they completed a project on the application and whether it was creative and quality work.
Not only will this give you better candidates and employees, but it will also create a fair candidate experience where everyone feels they have a chance to prove themselves in more than 20 seconds.
Hire talent for skills so that gender, education and background don’t matter
What if you didn’t know where a candidate went to school? Or you didn’t know their name or what gender they were? When you really think about it, these candidate traits don’t matter.
How are they on the job? What kind of work are they turning in? Do they meet deadlines? Can they get along with others in a team? Can they solve everyday problems? Do they take pride in their work?
These are the questions you should answer when evaluating a candidate. These questions are paramount in finding a candidate who can take your business to the next level. And the right one might be hiding on a resume with a community college name and not a prestigious university.
Jeremiah Reyes is in charge of hiring at Dolby Laboratories and recently told Brenda Salinas of KUT that a hiring manager at their company was shocked to find out his favorite candidate came from community college and not a university.
“Now the one that we did select, even in our debrief, he said ‘Wow, I think if I just saw his resume on my desk I don’t know that I would have selected him,” Reyes said.
This can also relate to gender. You don’t have to go far to find a study about the under representation of women in the tech industry. In fact, one study found that women hold only 10-20 percent of all tech-related jobs.
By reimagining how you evaluate candidates with questions or projects on the application process and not just a resume or face-to-face interview, you will increase diversity at your company and hire people with the talent and dedication needed.
Implementing this at your company to improve the candidate experience
Disclaimer: I am in no way endorsing GapJumpers.
That being said, I do think they have a unique vision on the current and future state of recruiting and how you can mirror their approach at your own company.
Not only can you begin reshaping your entire recruiting process and the culture of what you look for in an employee, but you can also begin making a name for yourself as a desired company to work for.
All you have to do is look at the right criteria, give applicants a chance to prove themselves and press the “I Want You” button and spin around in your chair to find the perfect candidate looking back at you ready to work.