Welcome to the third installment of the Recruitment Hackers Podcast Assessment Series. In this series, we'll be diving into different platforms that provide virtual assessments solutions. Today we’re talking about SHL with Global Solutions Director for Volume Hiring, Andrew Nelesen. In this episode Andrew gives us a demo of the SHL Experience for high volume candidates, highlighting the importance of giving value to all applicants, through a highly customizable, step-by-step process, that goes way beyond the usual candidate assessment. Each candidate gets personalized feedback, on the spot! Pretty amazing tech that provides value to all candidates. Even if they don’t get the job, they get a recap of their professional strengths they can use in their career path.Watch the entire episode below.
Don't feel like listening? You can read the entire transcript right here. 👇
Max: Hello, welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. Max Armbruster is here to talk with Mr. Andrew Nelesen, Global Solutions Director for Volume Hiring at SHL and for those who are not familiar with SHL, what are you doing on this podcast? SHL is the leading, I would say assessment provider in the world. I don't know if I said, I don't know if that's correct. but that's how I perceive it anyway. A global brand, a leading global brand who has recently made some really cool acquisitions, particularly in the high-volume space with the acquisition of Aspiring Minds a couple years ago. Andrew, welcome to the show.
Andrew: Thank you very much. Excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Max: Pleasure, pleasure and you know I don't know if I introduced SHL correctly. I mean that was my perception. It's number one in the space. I guess it doesn't matter if you're number one or number two or number whatever, but what does matter is the value proposition. So as you've had number of acquisitions, I suppose it's good to get a little update on what does SHL do now. What does your solutions portfolio include?
Andrew: Well it's actually quite broad and broader than I think most assessment providers. So it's both talent acquisition solutions, and I'll share a bit more about what those could look like, as well as talent management. So the full kind of employee life cycle, many of our customers are very interested in kind of objective data on people that they can acquire and they can reuse in lots of different ways across lots of like different decision points and so yeah like a really fast-moving part of our business is kind of more of the talent management, succession management, development, leadership development, employee development, workforce planning, those sorts of things. The part of the business that I focus on though is the talent acquisition. So we got solutions that cater towards volume hiring, that's the part of the business that I oversee, but also professional hiring, tech hiring, managerial hiring, even all the way up to executive selection. So there is a pretty broad kind of swath of solutions that we offer, we do think that's definitely part of the unique value proposition that we offer.
Max: What I like about volume hiring is it focuses you know the label volume hiring is it focuses on a certain process which can be replicated across different job types. I guess there are different names for that category. Some people call it hourly workers, but I think that's not really used in the international markets as much. What do you broadly put under volume hiring? What's your remit?
Andrew: Yeah, I think it's easy to think of it as entry-level or early career or hourly. We think of it as a little bit more broad than that. What I love about volume hiring is the infrastructure that surrounds it, we effort to optimize. Right like these are constantly open, whether their early career or even you know manufacturing or various kinds of blue-collar roles, reqs that are constantly open and there's often centralized teams and resources that are passionately focused on enhancing the outcomes of that hiring focus. And so, we love being a part of that kind of dynamic where it's like let's really refine overtime, constantly iterating, optimizing, and the kind of hiring program that is always on for a specific role allows you to do that and so that kind of broadly encompasses what we think of volume hiring. And definitely things like the candidate experience we definitely would wanna optimize in a volume hiring these days really for that reason.
Max: I totally agree and it's one of the things that allow for companies like mine to exist is the fact that most ATS are not really designed for this kind of fine-tuning, optimization of the volume hiring for positions where you know everything is automated, as much as possible. So, you need to have a level of customization per campaign which you do not get at an ATS, which creates room for companies like mine. But yeah, let's talk about the candidate experience and how the expectations have changed over recent years. Share, I mean Andrew what's the innovation that SHL is doing in this domain in terms of delivering, in a very competitive market today, delivering an experience that stands out from the rest?
Andrew: Yeah, this has really been my focus for the better part of two years since I took the role that I'm in now. I think we've long been known for the commitment that we make to the science, the psychometrics. And as you say, the kind of like, the dynamic around the candidates, the kind of power relationship, if they will, has shifted dramatically. Candidates really do have more power and leverage than they used to have in the process. And so, we have to be very mindful of what, if we designed a selection process that included things like video interviews in our assessments you know our core business. But if we designed it where the ultimate stakeholder, the most important stakeholder was the candidate, what would that look like? And it was that kind of thinking that led to something that we created that we call SHL experiences, which is really kind of a flexible, nimble, brandable, kind of workflow builder that puts context around assessment. We know that there's a lot of research on candidate resentment. It's up like 40% globally over the past three years. Candidates are super frustrated; they don't get what they want out of the process. So, we really want to dig into that. How can we create a process where candidates felt like they were getting valued, where, you know they did understand the next steps, they did feel like they were gonna be treated fairly and we could also help our employer customers really think differently about how they could represent themselves and their brand? So many candidates can apply to a volume job, you know, hundreds of them with the click of a button. So, they might not have fully appreciated the broader employer value prop. Are there opportunities for us to reinforce along the way? Why they should be excited about this particular job, in addition to uncovering some really great insight about the candidate that we can share with the hiring manager to kind of influence a selection decision.
Max: The resentment that you speak of, we've always known that the lack of response is a common theme. You know the fact that applications can take a long time, that websites are hard to navigate. And then talking about the assessment space, what are some of the other mistakes that employers need to avoid?
Andrew: Yeah, the dreaded black hole, right, we've been hearing that for quite some time. I feel like I fell into a black hole, and no one ever communicated with me. There are really relatively simple things that we can do that really help candidates. I've been studying candidates, talking to candidates you know for the better of part two years. They just want clarity of process, right. You know they just wanna know all the steps they have to go through and they wanna know where they're at right now at any given point in time. That's actually quite meaningful. So, there are simple things like that that we can do. We can also help a candidate feel prepared for what comes next that feels like you know they've got a chance to really put their best foot forward. That feeling of fairness, when they feel it, they become much more energized by your job. So those are simple things that we can do, and I'll show you a demo of kind of these experiences that I'm talking about here in a second. You'll see how we treat that a little bit like an opportunity to communicate with a candidate and give them the kind of you know the things that they need to feel prepared for what comes next. I think more powerful to a candidate though, they really want a sense of value in the process. They are the ones that have to go through you know a fifteen-minute assessment, maybe a, you know, recorded video interview. We're kind of asking a lot of a candidate. What do they get out of it? Historically, they haven't got a whole lot out of it especially if they're not selected for the job like you know you could argue that we've gotten nothing out of it. So, one of the things that we're quite excited about, we learn a ton of our candidates when they complete our assessments. And historically, obviously, we send insight to give to a recruiter or hiring manager to make a good decision. But now we're also packaging up, in kind of a cool way, video-based dynamic feedback for every candidate about their professional strengths that they can carry with them on their kind of employment journey, whether they get that job or not. So simple things and big things, but we think there's a way that we can really give more to candidates along the way.
Max: You know the step one into providing people's feedback is you're rejected, you're shortlisted. Step two is you're rejected because you don't have enough experience. And then I suppose you're a king on steps three or four or five, few steps later where you're giving them more personalized feedback. Are we talking about ten or a hundred different types of profile feedbacks or is every feedback different?
Andrew: Every feedback is different. Every feedback is generated, now it's not that there's a limitless supply, right? They're all these, I'll show you here in a minute, but there are narratives that are written by our kind of expert R&D team, they're made up of great I/O psychologists, you know, that studied the field of psychometrics. And so, they, you know we, at a very granular level, we get very detailed understanding of candidates. They are able to turn that into you know pretty meaningful video feedback, but we can create narratives for forty different components that are measured in assessment, and then just pull the three that are most powerful for a given candidate, right. We only wanna give them strengths-based feedback. We want this to be a positive part of a process. So, we just grab the three that are most powerful, and we think, you know, think about there are some interesting ways that you might apply these strengths as you think about your long-term career path and journey. So here you go, this is our gift to you. Like it can be branded as if it's coming from the client.
Max: Wow, well, you said they have resentments, it sounds like you're gonna make things worse for everybody who's not using SHL.
Andrew: That's the goal. That's the goal.
Max: All right. Well, Andrew, we'd love to see you know put some of these words into images. If you could show us the SHL experience preview, that be awesome.
Andrew: So, imagine, are you able to see my screen?
Andrew: Imagine that we work for a generic company that we're calling Home Produce and you've applied. You’ve used you know any number of great resources that, Max, another you provide, right, to help bring candidates to the point of application. So, they've applied in your ATS. There's a seamless integration that takes that candidate from your ATS to SHL experiences and maybe we’ll have a branded welcome page, we can put videos here, we can do images or text, or whatever the case may be. The candidate begins the process and the first thing that we're gonna do is we're gonna just help them understand what they have to do next.
All right, cool. So, again, imagine that you're a candidate, you've applied through the applicant tracking system of an organization called Home Produce, this is a generic company that we've made up. And so, you click on this link, and it brings them to this branded experience that welcomes that candidate. And as they click "Begin" the very first thing that we wanna communicate are the steps that we're gonna ask this candidate to go through and the length of time that each of them will take. A candidate can go through all of them in a linear fashion, they can bounce around, they can hit pause, and come back as their life allows them to. But in this first, we call each of these tiles, we can have as many tiles as we want and we can put any kind of content behind these tiles, right. So, we can put psychometric assessments. We can also put non-psychometric content.
Andrew: So, this is a video of potentially a candidate and employee that works for Home Produce, they’re welcoming that candidate and explaining the process that they're gonna go through. Right, so this is just a demo, a generic demo.
Max: This isn't Mark Zuckerberg's brother.
Andrew: What's that?
Max: Mark Zuckerberg's brother?
Andrew: Does it look like it? Yeah, you're not the first person to make that observation. But yeah, just you know many candidates they wanna get, they love to actually hear from people that are in the job more than like a talking head. So many of our customers put, you know, imagine someone that's like actually on the job, in a work scenario and saying, "Max, we're thrilled that you've applied. You're gonna take an assessment and a video interview and along the way if you wanna, you know, learn more about the job, we'll give you a chance to do that as well."
Max: And of course, this is optional. I mean for people, some of your customers will be focused 100% on markets where there's high supply of talents and very high velocity and maybe they'll say, "Know what, I'd rather skip some of this stuff and go straight to the assessment." Or does that happen or...?
Andrew: It does and that's totally fine. I think the other thing that's really powerful is this idea of A/B Testing. What is most effective for a given organization? So, what if we created an experience as a workflow for the client that you just kind of reference, right? That use case and we said, "Well let's try one out. Let's have a welcome video for one and let's go straight to the assessment for the other. Or let's have a welcome video that focuses on a message around safety on the job because of COVID versus a welcome message that focuses on a limitless career opportunity and career pathing, right. And let's test which message drives the better outcome for a candidate? Which one are they more energized by? Which one can they complete the process faster? Which one produces candidates that might even have better assessment results?" Lots of different ways that we can test the experience that we wanna send candidates through in addition to the kind of psychometrics that we know is gonna be so important to the process as well.
Max: Mhm. Mhm.
Andrew: So, all right. So, we've been welcomed to the process. Now, I'm gonna go back and now let's say all right, again, all of this is configurable and optional but here we've got a little bit more like, "Do you wanna learn more about this job and do you wanna evaluate for yourself if this is a good fit for you?" So yeah, let's go back to the use case that you just shared. You've got you know a thousand candidates for every single job. Well, maybe you want some of those candidates to remove themselves. So maybe you have like “A Day In The Life” video that can play and brings to life that kind of daily experience. This is probably not the most appropriate video for a volume use case, but let's say that you know you're showing what it's like to work at Home Produce and you're stocking shelves or you're a cashier or whatever the real you know like the real Day In The Life is actually all about. And then you can get to a point where you get that candidate to reflect on whether or not they really want that kind of experience every day, you know. Are you likely to go out of your way? Yeah, I can do that. Are you energized by a fast pace? Definitely. Ooh. Do I really wanna stand all day? I'm kind of comfortable. Do I have to work weekends and nights? Wow, you know. That one makes me a little bit concerned. So then—
Max: So, it's nice. You start with a couple of give-me questions that are easy yeses, so you don't put the candidate in a defensive mindset.
Andrew: Absolutely. And then we can give some candidate some feedback that's just for this candidate that helps them decide if this is really the right job for them. So, they're not being evaluated psychometrically at this point. No, they could be. We could create an assessment that has that same kind of look and feel, at face value, that is evaluative. But in this case, we're just demonstrating the kind of an R&D that helps that candidate. So then again, all of this can be optional tiles, this can be linear or nonlinear. Now, maybe we're navigating into the actual assessment. I'm gonna just click through this relatively quickly. There's tons of different options for assessment content. We actually create, we have this massive library of off-the-shelf job-focus assessments we call them. So, for store associates, for contact center roles, for manufacturing, for professionals, on and on there's all these kind of ready-to-go off-the-shelf assessments, but we can also create a tailored assessment for a given organization. I'm just clicking through this very very quickly. We can have multimedia in the assessments. This is all just text for the purposes of this demo, which I'm gonna click out of because what I wanna get to is I wanna share that video feedback.
Max: Get your personal feedback. Great.
Andrew: So now we're gonna get to this. I don't think you're gonna be able to hear the audio, but it's this very stylized video that plays with an audio overlay that talks about the process that we went through.
*Video feedback is played on-screen*
Woman in the video: Hi! Welcome to your personalized feedback.
Andrew: Megan, this is designed just for you. We studied all about, you know, like the requirements for the role. We learned a lot about you. These are some of your strengths. I'm just gonna let this play for a minute.
Woman in the video: We're going to ask questions about how you see yourself and how you relate to others. From twenty work behaviors, the results of the evaluation highlight your natural strengths and the work behaviors that will serve you well in your professional journey. Your natural strengths are in...
Andrew: Yeah. Now we're highlighting, of all the things that we evaluated, you're really strong at decision-making, leadership, and collaboration. Let us tell you more about each.
Max: It's so futuristic. It really feels like you're traveling into the future.
Andrew: So, this plays out, and again, all of the images are brandable, the videos are brandable, the narration is, you know, configurable, brandable. This can really look and feel like Home Produce. We also have some organizations that, you know what, we actually would rather have this look and feel like as a gel. You know, we were giving feedback to a candidate that we might not be hiring so maybe it might make sense for some organizations to have it feel like it comes from a more neutral third party. All of these are options.
Max: Right. Cool. Well, that is like I said very futuristic. I haven't seen anything quite like it. So, a wonderful way to give something back to the candidates. I had heard of other vendors who had gone as far as, you know, when they send a rejection email and say you're not a good fit for this job, they would go, you know, they would go in the next step, which is here's the jobs that you should be going to and that are advertised, you know, in the public market. I thought that was pushing it too far because a candidate may, I don't know, I felt that they may resent the fact an employer is pushing them to another employer.
Max: I don't know.
Andrew: We haven't considered doing that yet, although we are interested in, you know, candidates really like to, they love to receive feedback of course that's why we've done what we just shared. They also like to give feedback and so how do you do that at scale when you're dealing with volume hiring, in a meaningful way. So that might be the next thing that we roll out is how do we actually give voice to candidates, to, you know, influence the process for the next candidate that might come down the path.
Max: That sounds like you're gonna be doing a lot of more natural language processing, which is one of the core strengths of your team anyway. So, you certainly have the tools to build that. Well, it's been, you know, very inspiring, Thanks, Andrew. And what's the best way for people to get in touch with you if they wanna experience the full SHL experience?
Andrew: Yeah, they should definitely visit our website at shl.com. They're more than welcome to reach out to me personally which is andrew.nelesen.shl.com and I can send that detail to you if you'd like it but we’d love to take any questions or thoughts from your audience.
Max: Right. andrew.nelesen that's N E L E S E N. Andrew, it's been great having you. Thanks for coming.
Andrew: Thank you very much, Max, appreciate it.