Graduate Assessment in the Age of the Algorithm

Last month we were delighted to be part of the Graduate Innovation Lab, hosted by Fusion Graduate Consultancy. The events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane were a fantastic opportunity for us to share best practice, led by our founder and CEO Alan Bourne, and to learn from in-house recruiters about the challenges they’re facing.

Speed to hire and competition for talent are always hot topics with graduates applying for up to 15 programmes, a large number of reneges and in-house talent teams under-resourced. In one instance a single graduate recruiter had the remit for 80 graduate hires per year!

In this environment it’s no surprise that more and more recruiters are looking for technology solutions to improve the hiring process. But, as we heard during the event, it’s not plain sailing. Here I’d like to share some of the key messages about graduate assessment from the three events I attended.

The legacy

Graduate recruiters overall are keen to adopt the latest technology to help them make better decisions but, as Sova’s Alan Bourne said, we’ve been left with an ‘assessment legacy’: online assessments that are a hangover from their paper-based predecessors, time consuming telephone interviews and paper-based assessment centres hamper the efforts of stretched in-house recruiters. In an effort to streamline, companies adopt piecemeal tech solutions to patch the gaps.

These solutions are a step forward but can still lead to an inefficient or poorly integrated process, disparate and fragmented data and a compromise on candidate experience. During the Graduate Innovation Labs, we mapped the journey from legacy assessment technology to future-focused, responsible and innovative AI that can transform the graduate hiring process.

What do we want from our graduate assessment process?

We had a broad range of organisations at each event, but these themes were reoccurring at all three:

  • Data pooling: having our data all in one place so that it’s useable during and after selection, in development and career planning, is a priority.
  • Validation of psychometric assessment: This is something that is not being done often enough but could add significant value especially to diversity.
  • Diversity: We need to start looking beyond gender diversity. As examples, we can use tech to remove social mobility and disability bias. The process needs to be fair, inclusive, transparent and acceptable to all candidates.
  • Creating efficiencies: if we have an efficient process, we can base selection on prediction of success in a role rather than looking for errors on CVs and application forms as a means of screening.

Assessment powered by technology

Using a unified assessment platform has the potential to help deliver on all these goals. However, we know that some technology hasn’t lived up to expectations. Alan used some examples to illustrate how technology can be used for good, and why sometimes, it’s fallen down.

Earlier this year we learnt that Amazon had scrapped its ‘sexist AI tool’ that had been trained using gender- biased data, and facial recognition technology was found to identify males with lighter skin more accurately that others.

So why should organisations switch to a tech platform for graduate assessment? Because with the right approach, there is huge opportunity to improve assessment outcomes and business impact. By combining the best of psychology with the latest digital technology, organisations can make better, fairer hiring decisions. HR and in-house recruiters are the guardians of insisting it’s done right. To find out more about how Sova combines science and technology and applies it in a fair and ethical way, take a look at the short video on our website.

If you’re an in-house graduate recruiter and would like to see more from our events you can access all the resources here.

As a final thought on the appetite to adopt new tech: Alan asked at all our events – if there was a driverless car outside now would you get in? Based on a show of hands our Melbourne participants were far keener to jump in than either our Sydney or Brisbane delegates! I won’t try to apply any psychology to that finding!

Abigail Scott
Director, Sova Australia