It’s time for new tactics in retail hiring

Retail trade is Australia’s second-largest employing industry, which brings significant and unique recruitment challenges.

Keeping such a labour-intensive industry staffed is often a time consuming, labour-intensive, and expensive exercise – but one worth the investment.

Having the right customer-facing staff is key to providing an excellent customer experience. Recent research has found that the most important thing brands can do to improve Australian customer experiences is to deliver ‘Better Service from Staff’ (50 percent) – something especially important for Australians, ranking higher than US (42 percent) and UK (30 percent) consumers.

Thankfully, modern tech solutions are meeting retail’s recruitment challenges head-on, finding the right candidates digitally and engaging them with customers in physical stores. The real challenge for retailers, is identifying the issues and knowing the solutions.

Retail challenges

Startling turnover rates, intense competition for local talent and seasonal spikes in staffing demand are just a few of the multitude of recruitment challenges costing retailers millions of dollars annually.

Seasonality is a considerable recruitment challenge for retailers as it requires multiple employees over a short period of time – referred to in the industry as ‘high volume hiring.’

During these times, competition intensifies, as does turnover, whereby regular staff quit over the increased workload. Attrition and dropout rates remain high for retail roles and candidates renege on job offers all too often, meaning recruiting the right people at scale is testing.

Tackling this quantity challenge is only half the battle, there’s still the issue of quality. Unlike most industries, retail doesn’t require specific qualifications or experience.

Whilst this makes the industry amazingly accessible, it does make identifying the best candidates difficult. Inter-personal skills and customer service become the key differentiators. Some people are naturally born to provide great customer experience and these are the candidates you want on your team. Advanced tools for evaluating your candidates desired skills, therefore, become essential.

With these pressures to recruit in mass and fast, retailers must be mindful not to neglect their obligation to diversity and inclusion.

The ideal retail workforce should reflect the diversity of its customers and optimise the hiring process to attract diverse talent accordingly. In this environment, innovation and the latest technology are paramount to having success in hiring the right staff, in volume and faster than your competitors.

New tactics

Candidates are used to consumer-grade experiences when engaging a brand from a job seeker perspective, getting the application process right cannot be underestimated.

In a recent Alcami Interactive poll, 23 percent of workers believe candidate experience reveals more about brand culture than customer experience. One in four jobseekers have either entirely stopped purchasing (12 percent) or purchased less (11 percent) from a brand because of a negative candidate experience. Additionally, 30 percent of candidates would consider becoming a customer of a brand if they had a good experience.

Modern digitised recruitment resonates with retail applicants as 32 percent of Australian retail trade workers are aged 15 to 24. This is a generation of tech-natives with an expectation for convenience and an attraction to innovation. Digital interviewing hands freedom of time and location back to the candidate, creating a far more convenient experience. For the retailer, the business can maximise the engagement by branding the candidate portal – it’s a win-win for improved brand perception.

Digital interviewing provides a management platform for vacancies, questions, responses, candidates and assessments that is missing from manual CV based recruitment. The process automates the screening phase without dehumanising the candidate experience. Ultimately, the recruiting company increases time savings, decreases turnover and enhances culture.

The process comes into its own where diversity and inclusion are concerned. Customisable abilities to turn the camera off, digitise voices, provide both written and audible questioning and level the playing field through question response times; provides the solution to ‘blind hiring’.
Digital interviewing automates manual tasks, minimises bias and delivers more engaging, consistent and fair experiences. This ultimately raises the bar for in-store customer experience. It’s time retailers stopped missing out on hidden talent, omitted by manual CV based processes – put simply, it’s time for new tactics.

If you need some guidance shaping the process for your hiring needs, get in touch with us at Alcami Interactive to request a personalised demo.



The role of Cognitive Bias in Society & the impact it has on Recruitment

We all have bias. It’s inherent to human connection. We tend to connect better if we have something in common. For example, if we grew up in the same suburb, same city. If we’ve read the same books, play the same sports, have similar dress code and so on.

That’s great when getting to know people as friends; however, in interview situations its often unproductive and can lead to a variety of serious issues from poor job performance to lost revenue.

Cognitive biases are essential. They are a matter of survival. If our brain were not equipped with strategies to break down the world, we would face computational malfunction (or the human brain equivalent) as we could not make sense of all the information hitting our five senses.

However, it is important that we shine a light on the way that biases limit our judgement, perceptions, rationality and how our thinking is intrinsically flawed.

If you can minimise the bias in your recruitment screening processes you are better placed to create a diverse workforce for the future orientating your organisation for a market leading position.

*Image sourced from Medium

An article by Buster Benson discusses how we use a wide range of cognitive biases to strategically address problems our brain is faced with moment to moment, day by day.

The Four mental problems all cognitive biases seek to solve:

1. Information overload

There is simply too much information to process it all. Our senses are bombarded with information constantly, and we have limited attention. Therefore our brain requires means of selecting what information we should focus on that will likely be useful to us now or in the future.

2. Not enough meaning

Now comes turning the information that made it through the above filtering systems into something meaningful. To do this, we connect the dots and fill in the gaps of the information we have taken “with the catalogue of mental models, beliefs, symbols and associations that you’ve stored from previous experiences.” To create stories that make sense of the world in our heads.

3. Not enough time

There isn’t enough time to consider all possibilities, and we need to act fast. To overcome this, we jump to conclusions so that we aren’t paralysed and can move ahead with the information we have. Imagine how long it would take you to choose your lunch if you were to consider all of your options.

4. Not enough memory

The final conundrum is that there is not enough space in our brain to store all “the raw information, all the symbols and stories, and all of the past decisions that we have made.” We constantly are faced with deciding what is worth storing and forgetting. We prefer generalities over specifics and reducing to key elements.

Implicit Bias in Recruitment

We now know that biases play a vital role in our ability to function as human beings, but they don’t come without problems.

They can cause wrongful judgements to be made against people of a particular ethnicity, colour, gender or age and this can be quite prominent in the world of recruitment where decisions need to be made in haste.

The impact being you miss out on talents that have great skills and culture-add and these features are simply overlooked due to cognitive biases.

Researchers from Australian National University (ANU) put this theory to the test. They carried out The Implicit Association Test aimed at measuring the automatic reflexes when people were presented with particular stimuli in a short time frame. They found 3 in 4 Australians have a negative implicit bias against Indigenous Australians.

What does this mean? Well, a negative implicit bias means a person associates negative terms with the stimuli. In a hire, this would look a lot like a qualified candidate missing out on an opportunity because their name suggests a particular ethnicity. Or, during an interview, assuming someone was incapable of fulfilling the job requirements because of their colour, gender or age.

How Video Interviewing platforms can reduce bias when hiring

Some Video Interviewing platforms can help organisations negate and minimise personal bias, increasing their ability to deliver an equitable experience for all candidates. At Alcami Interactive, we offer capabilities such as hiding video and personal details, disguising voice and hiding feedback from other assessors. This all supports a decrease in BIPOC, ethnic, age and gender biases. Our platform also supports independent collaboration to further minimise group think – ensuring the best possible outcome from your recruitment process.

I personally believe this is instrumental in helping organisations to acquire top talent. Currently, 68% of our clients are utilising the Bias features in our platform to help foster a hiring decision without bias. This number is growing, and we highly recommend they be used to find the right person for the role.

In Conclusion

Understanding the four problems bias seeks to solve are anchored in the world and will always exist means you can acknowledge that your brain will always necessarily need bias as a coping mechanism.

What you can do is become acquainted with these strategies so that you can reflectively examine the way they make up your perceptions of the world. If we can accept that we are inherently biased, only then can we work on critically examining our decisions and thought processes. It is only when we take an honest inventory of how we might be wrong can we experience a shift in perception as an outcome.

Why not take the Implicit Association Test for yourself. You may find the results surprising.

If you need some guidance shaping the process for your hiring needs, get in touch with us at Alcami Interactive to request a personalised demo.



Maximising the value of Video Interviewing Tech

During my +20 years in recruitment, I’ve seen talent acquisition managers predominantly adopt the traditional application first method when it comes to hiring.

Whilst this is a common approach that may have worked well in the past, it uses several poor predictive indicators early on in the hiring process to predict who will be successful in the role.

Indicators from their application such as gaps in their employment history, job titles more meaningful to their last employer through to their choice of university.

In my experience, these implicit methods of prediction are fundamentally flawed and are laden with potential bias.

Using these low-level predictive criteria can unintentionally screen out candidates who would be a perfect fit given a chance to offer more context to the information in their application. Or they would be a great culture-add if trained in any slight skill deficit.

So how do you evolve from this method & use modern talent tech to your advantage?

Video interviewing platforms like Alcami Interactive allow you to achieve best practice predictive methods. Streamlining your recruitment screening process by bringing on-demand asynchronous video interviews upfront, will improve your time to hire and secure top candidates.

Using special features within the platform such as the ability to disguise voice, hide video and name as well as create an independent collaboration which hides each evaluator’s comments and scores is another way to take your recruitment processes to the next level.

This feature allows you to create a more inclusive and equitable experience, and foster a more diverse workforce.

Let’s further explore how you can take advantage of your video interviewing platform.

There are three simple steps to reorganise the workflow and reframe video interviewing first:

1. Define a robust Position Description to which you can objectively evaluate against. It’s critical to build this strong selection framework to qualify applicants. define the must-have criteria for the role, by detailing out the position’s OKRs (made famous by John Doerr’s book Measure What Matters and linking them to your organisations’ key imperatives.

2. Develop a sound question set. Formulate and develop 5-7 pre-recorded video questions. Showcase your culture and diversity by filming hiring managers, executives or other employees from the business to give an authentic and unique candidate experience.

Consider your questions carefully. They must have high job relevance and may reflect (or even be) those you would ask in live interviews. Some categories you could consider are: behavioural and competency-based questions or questions to determine if the candidate will add to the culture.

In the Alcami Interactive platform, you can also include written answers to assess a candidate’s written communication skills efficiently within the same process.

Video Interviewing platforms also offer the ability to preface video questions with a short video. Not only can this time be used to give candidates some insight into your organisation, utilise this time to demonstrate common workplace scenarios and then formulate a question that asks candidates how they would respond or manage the situation.
Research shows candidates are becoming fatigued with text-based questions. By giving candidates video questions, it creates a more objective and level playing field for the candidate who knows they are on equal footing with all other applicants.

3. You’re ready, now put it into practice
Placing the video interview at the beginning of your screening process is particularly effective in expediting and improving quality in volume hires and roles that have specific requirements.
I recommend paying attention to the experience of the candidate as much as the hiring process. Consider allowing reasonable adjustment to cater for, the needs of neurodiverse candidates and those with visible and non-visible disabilities.

Why Should I Change Our System?

At its core, placing the video interview at the beginning of the hiring process will help combat bias in selection and recruitment.

The less predictive a method, the higher the bias potential, and yet these are the predominant criteria that guide screening decisions in conventional practice. Implementing higher predictive methods earlier will allow screening decisions to be based on objective criteria to determine who is fundamentally the right person for the role.

If you need some guidance shaping the process for your hiring needs, get in touch with us at Alcami Interactive to request a personalised demo.



The 5 Best Interview Questions You Need to Ask for Cultural Add

Before founding Alcami Interactive, I spent over 20 years in Agency Recruitment. I would spend countless hours educating employers if you hire based on skill you’ll most likely fire for behavioural competencies. It’s a far better strategy to hire the competencies aligned to the role and train for any skill gaps, should there be any.

When selecting new employees based on how they will add to the culture, and competencies aligned to the role the end result will be a more robust workforce with strong cohesiveness and alignment to the organisations strategic imperatives.

The 5 best questions to ask for cultural Add

So here are five of the best video interview questions that you can choose to help get the best insights into the candidate’s personality, cultural attitude and behavioural competencies:

1. Walk me through your perfect day. This is a great question to deep dive into what the employee values in a workplace. Do they prefer to work in teams, individually? How does socialising fit into their perfect day? This is a great question to see if the company and the candidate’s values align.

2. What are you most passionate about? A candidate who is passionate with strong feelings or beliefs, will likely be a positive person, who will be able to bounce back from any setback, without losing enthusiasm. Positive people are more likely to be successful in what they do.

3. If I walk past your desk at 5.30pm, what will I see? This question is one of the best questions to see how the company’s culture aligns with the candidate’s view on what work should be like and their view on it. The answers you get from this question will be far and wide, from ‘I’ll be long gone’ to ‘I’ll be forwarding my phone, to work from home’.

4. If we were travelling for work and got stuck (a missed flight for example), what would you do? This question will help determine, what the person will be like in an emergency or a stressful situation, or when the ‘going gets tough’. Every company has its going gets tough moments, perhaps through growing fast, but knowing that your candidate has the same values as the company’s and will be able to navigate whatever hurdle comes up.

5. Describe your ideal work environment? Describe your perfect job and working environment? Usually, the candidate’s first answers are the most honest and insightful and will give you an insight as to how their ideals align with the company’s culture.

Video Interview Upfront in Real Life

Who’s doing it best? One company that has implemented next-generation digital screening processes well is Linfox. Linfox has 24,000 employees across 12 different countries and they continually receive large numbers of applications for their graduate program each year.

Motivated to improve all stakeholders’ experience including candidates, hiring managers and talent acquisition, Linfox implemented video interviewing using Alcami Interactive’s VI platform.
After using Alcami Interactive, Linfox commented:

‘I feel like I already know these candidates. A much better feel than just reviewing a resume or some interview notes made by the recruiters.”
– Linfox’s Senior Talent Business Partner

If you need some guidance shaping the process for your hiring needs, get in touch with us at Alcami Interactive to request a personalised demo.



Fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace culture

Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) remain high on the agenda of business strategy in 2020 as many leaders are realising the potentials and benefits it reaps.

At Alcami, we believe it is a business imperative and have built a platform that specifically hones in on this.

In this article, I explore the benefits that multiple organisations are seeing by embracing D&I as well as ways that recruiting leaders are utilising features in our video interviewing platform as part of their D&I strategy.

The Benefits

Organisations who prioritise diversity perceive it as an asset for both the business and employees. There is no doubt about the tremendous benefits organisations with a diverse workforce enjoy.

A Boston Consulting Group study identified they perform better financially and, in fact, found diverse teams produce 19% more revenue. The financial rewards result from diversity, creating a more innovative and creative workforce with better problem-solving capabilities.

The case for diversity speaks for itself. Yet diversity is only one half of D&I. You have to put in effort, time and attention into building a diverse workforce which includes an array of different ages, ethnicities, religions, genders and worldviews across your leadership and team/s.

“For diversity to be successful, it needs to be underpinned by an organisation’s commitment to inclusivity across every aspect of business and culture.”

Furthermore, a US study found that diversity followed up with inclusivity at all levels of decision-making maximises business performance. The results showed:

• Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time.
• Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions twice as fast.

How Talent Acquisition Managers can utilise new features in Video Interviewing software to help foster this growth.

Helping organisations to overcome diversity challenges was a prime concern in the development of the Alcami Interactive platform. Here are 3 ways that our asynchronous Video Interviewing system is solving these problems.

1. Diversity Technology: Our software enables an Evaluator to hide certain aspects of the candidate’s responses to help reduce bias led to hiring decisions. To build objectivity (merit-based recruitment), organisations can activate capabilities such as:

  • Hiding video – minimises any potential appearance or age biases assessors may have.
  • Personal details – mask spelling of candidates name to reduce any ethnic bias an assessor may have by spelling a name.
  • Disguising voice: masking indicators that could raise prejudice, such as an accent and gender.
  • Hiding feedback from candidates: If assessors want to assess candidates objectively without allowing information from candidates to influence the decision (such as a candidate having connections internally).
  • Hiding evaluator feedback from other assessors: Minimises chances of group-think.

2. Encourage Diverse Hiring Teams: It is our recommendation to clients to assemble a panel of three assessors with diverse backgrounds and inherent traits. Asynchronous video interviews make this easier for organisations because schedule constraints don’t limit you. Each assessor can watch back and assess the candidates at a time and place that is convenient for them.

3. Opportunity to showcase diversity across your organisation: Using pre-recorded questions in a video interview offers a unique opportunity to businesses to showcase the many diverse people who work there. Recruit diverse team members of different ages, ethnicities, genders, educational background to ask the questions. This creates an immediate positive impact and delivers a positive experience for the candidates.

There is no successful Diversity without Inclusion

There is no true meaningful diversity without inclusion and providing employees with a sense of belonging. You will very quickly lose the diverse talent you have worked hard to recruit if the workplace doesn’t emit inclusive practices across every facet of the business. Creating an inclusive environment begins in your hiring practices.

Here are three ways that our Video Interviewing platform is helping recruiters foster inclusion in their hiring process:

1. Reasonable Adjustment Process: This D&I technology is unique globally to our platform. For organisations who would like to intentionally promote “we are a diverse and inclusive organisation that fosters a sense of belonging”, amplify in the application process people with disabilities and neurodiverse needs are considered, and ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the video interviewing process can be made. Adjustments include adjusting the deadline, extending thinking time and answering time per question.

2. Formulate Inclusive Questions: Creating pre-recorded questions allows for the formulation of thoughtful questions. Include your diverse team members by asking for input on whether they feel any of the questions are worded in a way that would make them feel excluded from the organisation if they were to answer it. Also, ensure the questions are representative of your organisation’s inclusive culture.

3. Screen More Candidates: The ability to screen more candidates in less time means our clients can invite a broader pool of candidates to screen for roles. More candidates are given an opportunity where before they may have been screened out due to lack of time and low predictive measures of success being used by the organisation in selecting their successful candidates.

D&I is as complex as the structures of our organisations. By utilising video interviewing into your recruitment practices, you are communicating to candidates that your culture is committed to nurturing diversity and ensuring everyone feels a sense of belonging, respect and feel fully accepted for who they are. D&I is never a done deal; it is an ongoing process which will evolve as businesses and humans do.

If you need some guidance shaping the process for your hiring needs, get in touch with us at Alcami Interactive to request a personalised demo.