HR Technology Conference 2014: Recruiting System Thoughts

Overall, this year was one of the best years in a while for the vendor and show floor.  In my opinion, there were some significant areas where technology has finally started catching up with vision, and it was happening on a pretty broad level.  The smaller startup vendors from the last year have pushed the bigger players, creating a lot of positive movement.  More on that in another post.

Let’s start off with recruiting because…. well everything starts off with recruiting.

User Experiences:  
The idea that you can take any of the older recruiting experiences like Taleo, Brassring, PeopleSoft, etc and wrap a UX around it is fantastic.  Half of the candidate problem is process and interview experience, but it all start with being able to submit an application in the first place.  We all know when we’re in the never ending PeopleSoft application submission process because most of us have never actually gotten to the end of it.  Manager experiences are equally bad, and half of our organizations can’t get managers to use recruiting functionality because it’s so bad.  We have HRBP’s supporting them instead.

  • Jibe has been around for a few years that I know of, and they have an incredibly elegant candidate, manager and recruiter experience.    Jibe avoids all of that by cleaning up the experience, making it mobile and easy, and doing for a huge selection of ATS systems.  I do have some concerns with their laser focus on the user experience since at some point the vendors might catch up and make the UX overlay unnecessary, but for now and the next few years, there is a huge amount of opportunity for them.
  • Findly is an organization that I just don’t understand their core ATS differentiator, but they also have the ability to wrap a UX around Taleo, Brassring and SuccessFactors recruiting.  At this point they are only doing a wrap around for the candidate experience, but it’s pretty decent.
  • Many of the newer cloud ATS (including the ones mentioned below) have great UX – being architected in the last 5 years puts them far ahed of the old generation, and really makes it unnecessary to wrap a different UX around it.

Old vs. New ATS
One of the things I’m desperately trying to figure out is when the new vendors will be ready to fully take over the mantle from the older recruiting vendors.  We still have the old school, behemoth vendors with such robust and rich feature/functionality that deployment and maintenance of the applications just are not agile.  Then we have the new school of recruiting applications that are very agile, but don’t have nearly the depth in functionality.  Somewhere in the middle is a happy medium that allows 95% of our organizations to get what we need and manage staffing practices with the speed at which the employment market changes.

Just to name a few, we have Jobvite with good ATS adoption, but it’s obviously not Taleo in functionality, we have Smashfly who started in the referrals business and is trying to broaden functionality quickly, Hirevue started in interviewing and is also trying to grow into other areas.  All of the systems have gaps, and at some point the gaps are small enough that system viability is unquestionable over the old ATS.  Right now, this feels a bit like 2007 when the talent systems started buying each other ,but there were always clear strengths based on where the vendor’s original functionality was.  it took 5 years before end to end talent was truly viable.

Recruiting CRM:
I’m still seeing a pretty big gap in really capable recruiting CRM systems.  Integration to the truly powerful content marketing engines and really deep CRM that comes close to matching traditional CRM is just not there yet.  That said, there are recruiting CRM systems that do a great job, but there are not that many of them.

I’m pretty excited about recruiting systems this year.  I do think we’re in a transition phase where the old stuff looks a lot older this year, and the new stuff starts looking pretty good.  Next year should hopefully see more maturity and hopefully the start of the changing of the guards.

Recruiting Engagement

So, I used to write this blog for me.  Honestly, I could have cared less that anyone was reading it.  It has been a great exercise for almost 6 years – forcing me to continuously thing and read and research.  I’ve enjoyed writing over 1000 posts and think of it as a fairly significant achievement.  But I’m quite honestly tired of it.  I no longer do it for me, and I don’t have the time or energy to invest in doing the twitter thing, or networking with other bloggers – all the things that seem to make for successful blogs these days.  It’s just not fun at the moment.

I was watching a recent HBR video ((Harvard Business Publishing Videocast, The Path to Peak Performance.  Dr. Edward Hallowell.)) that did talk about emotion as one of the critical drivers of success.  He pointedly asserted that “working harder” was in no way a meaningful path to achieving higher performance.  Instead, the right people in the right jobs who were emotionally invested would create success (note that he didn’t call it engagement, but that’s what it is).  He also noted that this involvement of emotion in the equation seemed to have a balance between work and play.  That is not to say that people “play” at work, but that emotionally, the work was fun.  I’ll admit that I often do have fun at work.  I enjoy my projects and I enjoy creating.  But I think that many of us have people in top positions in our organizations that are not truly having fun.

This is an interesting departure from prior discussion of engagement.  Where before we could always create engagement, in this scenario, “fun,” emotional investment seems to be created more from within than anything we in HR can do.  What HR can do is put people in the right jobs in the first place, and then our employees have a chance at this concept of fun and play.  That the significant part of the engagement equation actually lies in selection and job placement before any of our engagement surveys or tools is deployed is a bit troubling.  After all, we don’t measure our recruiters on engagement or fit to position.  We’d like to think they are thinking in those terms, but we are measuring our recruiters on fill rates and time.

I do genuinely love what I do.  I think I’m good at it, and I find the work quite interesting.  My clients generally like me with the occasional exception.  I think I may be one of the lucky ones.  In my last 2 jobs, I’m pretty sure there weren’t positions open for me.  I happened to finagle my way into chatting with the right person, and they’d find a way to get me into the organization.  Most people tend to interview for jobs, have to take the job that they are offered that matches what they need to get paid.  The hope is that their skills, compensation threshold, and interests all collide at the same time, but realistically that’s unlikely, isn’t it?  Our gatekeepers are our recruiters.  We need to do a better job of not only measuring fit from a skills and income perspective, but also from an emotional interest perspective.  Our employees who are going to succeed are going to do so not because we figured out how to engage them, but because we got the right person in the right job and gave them the best opportunity to inspire themselves.

Behavioral Non-Interviews

Remembering back to college admissions days (which many of you might have kids going through that right now), one of the best parts of the whole process is doing the college tour thing and doing interviews at the various prospective schools. For 4 year degrees, the risk of not performing well on the interview is probably minimal, but it’s a stressful time anyway. There’s a very well known medical school in the U.S. that requires an interview for all of its candidates, and the interviews routinely take about 10 to 15 minutes to conduct. Never has an interview been known to take more than 30 minutes, God forbid we actually find out that much about our candidates. In truth, you get the tour of the campus, then you are seated with a number of other prospective students while you wait your turn to be called in for the interview. You could be sitting in there for minutes, or hours waiting, after which you go in for your freakishly fast 10 minutes where you cover topics as mundane as, “How was your summer?” and “What kind of food do you like?”

These are obviously quite difficult screening questions, akin to the tense corporate lunch interview when you are forced to pick between coffee and tea after the meal. After the short 10 minutes, you are thanked and ushered out on your way with, “You’re all done for the day.” Most of us would be crushed. We would walk out, find a little hole to crawl into, and weep. After all, our hopes and dreams of attending one of the top medical schools in the world has just been dashed. What we didn’t know, was that was not the interview. Indeed, behind a glass window (think police headquarters) is the entire admissions committee watching if/how you interact with your fellow candidates. What type of a person are you? What do you talk about? Who do you talk to? After, “You’re all done for the day” there is a choice to be made. Are you the type who picks up and leaves? Do you sit around on your iPhone waiting for your ride to come pick you up? Do you start conversations with some of the other prospective students? In this case, the reality is to be literal – you are not supposed to stand apart and set yourself as better than the rest. Most organizations like to consider themselves “collegial” and excellent places to work where people trade information freely and willingly.

Unfortunately, since we don’t usually do panel interviews where we have multiple candidates being pitted against each other at the same time, it’s tough to observe whether or not a person is really  going to be collaborative once we hire them. And I don’t really feel like submitting my Director-level candidates to a 2 hour personality assessment test. Our only real feedback at current is the candidate’s interaction with the receptionist and other people who might be sitting in the lobby while they wait. However, we almost never ask the receptionist what they think, and they aren’t really trained to give an expert opinion anyway. What is important to us when we recruit is a combination of what a person knows, and who a person is. We are quite adept at figuring out what a person knows, but less skilled at knowing who a person is over the course of four 1-hour interviews.

Managers and recruiters alike are supposed to be semi-skilled at reading candidates, but unless we have a full-on behavioral psychologist interviewing, I’m not sure our read of candidates is anywhere near perfect. We all know that when we are in front of a hiring manager or presenting to a client or whatever, that we are on stage. Reading the candidate when they are “on stage” is not meaningful. It’s about how they act when they are not acting.

Recruiting Effectiveness Measurement

Last post I wrote about recruiting efficiency measures.  From the effectiveness side, we’re all used to things like first year turnover rates and performance rates.  Once again, we’ve been using these metrics forever, but they don’t necessarily measure actual effectiveness.  You’d like to think that quality of hire metrics tells us about effectiveness, but I’m not sure it really does.

When we look at the standard quality of hire metrics, they usually have something to do with the turnover rate and performance scores after 90 days or 1 year.  Especially when those two metrics are combined, you wind up with a decent view of short term effectiveness.  The more people that are left, and the higher the average performance score, the better the effectiveness., right?

Not so quick.  While low turnover rates are absolutely desirable, they should also be assumed.  High turnover rates don’t indicate a lack of effectiveness.  High turnover rates instead indicate a completely dysfunctional recruiting operation.  Second of all, the utilization of performance scores doesn’t seem to indicate anything for me.

Organizations that are using 90 or 180 day performance scores have so much new hire recency bias that they are completely irrelevant.  It’s pretty rare that you have a manager review a new hire poorly after just 3 or 6 months.  For most organizations, you expect people to observe and soak in the new company culture before really doing much of anything.  This process usually takes at least 3 months.  And while the average performance score in the organization might be “3” your 90 and 180 day performance scores are often going to be marginally higher than “3” even though those new hires have not actually done anything yet.  However, you’ll have a performance score that is advantageous to the overall organizational score making you think that your recruiters are heroes.  Instead, all you have is a bunch of bias working on your metrics.

I’m not sure I have any short term metrics for recruiter effectiveness though.  Since we don’t get a grasp of almost any new hire within the first year, short term effectiveness is really pretty hard to measure.  I’m certainly not saying that turnover and performance are the wrong measures.  I’m just saying that you can’t measure effectiveness in the short term.

First of all, we need to correlate the degree of recruiting impact that we have on turnover versus things like manager influence.  If we’re looking at effectiveness over 3 years, we need to be able to localize what impact recruiting actually has in selecting applicants that will stick around in your organizational culture.  Second, we need to pick the right performance scores.  Are we looking at the actual performance score? goal attainment, competency growth, or career movement in # years?  Picking the right metrics is pretty critical, and it’s easy to pick the wrong ones just because it’s what everyone else is using.  However, depending on your talent strategy, you might be less interested in performance and more interested in competency growth.  You might want to look at performance for lower level positions while the number of career moves in 5 years is the metric for senior roles.  A one size fits all does not work for recruiting effectiveness because the recruiting strategy changes from organization to organization and even between business units within the same organization.

Overall, recruiter effectiveness is not as simple as it seems, and unfortunately there isn’t a good way to predict effectiveness in the short term.  In fact, short term effectiveness may be one of those oxymorons.

Recruiting Efficiency Measurement

If you look through Saratoga, there are all sorts of metrics around measuring our HR operations.  For recruiting, these include all the standard metrics like cost/hire, cost/requisition, time to fill, fills per recruiter, etc.   Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of most of these metrics.  They give us a lot of data, but they don’t tell us how effective or efficient we really are.  You’d like to think that there is going to be a correlation between fills per recruiter to efficiency, and there probably is some correlation, but true efficiency is a bit harder to get a handle on.

When I’m thinking about efficiency, I’m not thinking about how many requisitions a recruiter can get through in any given year or month.  I’m not even sure I care too much about the time to fill.  All of these things are attributes of your particular staffing organization and the crunch you put on your recruiters.  If you have an unexpected ramp-up, your recruiters will be forced to work with higher volumes and perhaps at faster fill rates.  Once again, I’m sure there is a correlation with recruiter efficiency, but it may not be as direct as we think.

Back to the point, when I think about recruiting efficiency, I’m thinking about the actual recruiting process, not how fast you get from step one to step 10, or how many step 1-10 you can get through.  Recruiting efficiency is about how many times you touch a candidate between each of those steps.  Efficiency is about optimizing every single contact point between every constituency in the recruiting process – recruiters, sourcers, candidates, and hiring managers.

The idea is that you should be able to provide high quality results without having to interview the candidate 20 times or have the hiring manager review 5 different sets of resumes.  If you present a set of 8 resumes to the hiring manager and none of them are acceptable, you just reduced your recruiting efficiency by not knowing the core attributes of the job well enough and not sourcing/screening well enough.  If you took a candidate through 20 interviews, you just reduced your efficiency by involving too many people who probably don’t all need to participate in the hiring decision and who are all asking the same questions to the candidate.  Sure, there is a correlation between the total “touches” in the recruiting process to time to fill, but “touches” is a much better metric.

I know we’ve been using the same efficiency metrics for ages upon ages, and most of us actually agree that we dislike these.  Touches within the recruiting process makes a whole lot more sense to me, as it gets to the actual root of the efficiency measurement.

Oh, You’re a Recruiter

I often have a hard time describing what I do.  I mean, I’m an HR technology guy, but I don’t implement anything.  And telling non-HR people that there are a whole slew of HR technologies out there to serve a wide variety of business outcomes is strange to most of the population.  When I tell people I’m an HR consultant, more often than not, people respond with, “Oh, you’re a recruiter then?”  Not that I have anything against recruiters, but consultants in an organization play a different and  important role.

Often we think about things from a different vantage point simply because we we don’t have some of the current state baggage that incumbents have.  Often, we are not constrained and therefore do a better job of thinking about projects with the end state in mind rather than the current state.  I’m often surprised by an incumbent’s inability to redesign and think outside of the current state as they try to figure out the future state.  Often, we can’t redefine a portion of a process because some downstream application or proceed depends on it being done the way it is today.  But the thinking does not work since perhaps if we asked around, those downstream systems would tell us how poor the current state process really is.  Another example is when we upgrade reporting tools and recreate reports without doing an investigation of how many of the recipients are not even with the company anymore (yes, this has happened to me).

Consultants tend to have a wider variety of experiences.  It’s not that we’re any smarter, because I’m quite convinced that most of my clients are pretty damn smart.  However, when I’ve helped clients create 5 technology roadmaps in the last 12 months or 3 business intelligence approaches in the last 9 months, I have a better awareness of where the market is going and what are new emerging practices.

The last thing is that consulting is not about being smart, although good consultants are.  Great consultants are about approach.  The methodology consultants bring to help organizations think through a problem in a methodical way is what creates value.  All the smarts and all the market knowledge in the world does not mean very much if your consultant can’t look at your organization and approach your specific problem in a way that links them to their future.

I’m certainly not trying to sell myself, but it’s just a thought that when I tell people I’m in HR consulting, 80% of the time people assume I’m a recruiter and the other 20% I get a blank stare.

Using RSS Feeds in Recruiting

I have a friend who has his own consulting business was describing some pretty cool RSS functionality he’s been using. One of his customers has an order system that gets input into theirs system. Each night, any orders get sent to my friend’s system through RSS. The RSS integration has been engineered not only to take the orders that are in, but also to pick up additional information along the way. For example, if there are documents associated with the order, those documents are added to the RSS feed. At the end of the integration stream, there is not just a file of the RSS order, but basically every piece of information that they need to execute the work, not just process the order.

As I think about RSS for recruiting, I don’t actually think about the obvious things like having feeds go to job boards. I’m actually thinking of possibilities around applicant and new hire data. For applicant data, I wonder if the data can go out through and RSS feed, and a matching program written to see if they are already in any of the existing databases for ex-employees or agency contacts that might sit in other databases. If not, there are then various other possibilities for the RSS. For example, if applicants are turned into real interview candidates, it’s possible to then take the information and further parse out RSS feeds in XML formats (since RSS is already and XML format) to create requests to your background check vendors and start getting degree verifications, security clearance verifications or anything else you might need.

The new hire is another interesting place where RSS can be used to collect data for you. An RSS new hire feed can also be used to trigger a program that will collect all of the new hire information, attach any resume files, and any other pertinent information that needs to be placed into the hands of the end user/processor. This data can then be automatically fed into the core HRMS system, but the same data set can also be used to set up any employee files and feed the onboarding system.

Today, we already use automated file transfers for many of the described processes. However, most native API’s don’t always fit into our unique scheming of how we would like a process to work for our own organizations. The workarounds or re-tooling of interfaces is often more costly than using something simple like RSS and creating some programming code around it.

Years ago (ok, 2 years ago) when RSS was first gaining mainstream adoption, we were all really excited about the possibilities of RSS, but we have slowly lost the visibility not only to what it could do for us, but to the low level of cost and implementation effort associated with it. In these years of leaner implementation budgets, perhaps it’s time to look at RSS with fresh eyes again.

Taleo versus SuccessFactors

At the end of 2009, Bersin did a great analysis of the two organizations that I can’t really beat.  It’s a nice objective and score by score view of the vendors that is based in good factual data, and I’m going to take a different approach, but you should read Bersin’s post first.  From my point of view, the discussion of the two vendors is quite simple, and the decision around to who has the advantage is also quite clear.

Let’s start with their roots.  It’s quite clear that Taleo is based on recruiting roots while SuccessFactors has the Talent Management side.  Both have ventured into each other’s strong suite, with Taleo having an incredible launch into performance a couple of years ago.  However, as time has gone on and the market has assessed the product, it may actually have been too much innovation for the average HR department to adopt and absorb.  I still think it’s one of the coolest products out there, but the change may have been too radical or restrictive.  Traditional performance vendors that were more flexible in allowing people to stick with processes that were somewhat similar to their current states might have been more comfortable during the selection process.  While we all say we want drastic change, when functional HR people really get down to business, I’m not sure it’s true.

SuccessFactors on the other hand has been reaching into recruiting.  Their first couple of sales came in 2009 and the product is in its infancy.  What Taleo has spent a decade developing, SuccessFactors has been at for a few short months and the product shows its weaknesses.  At the same time, Taleo’s recruiting product shows the immense configurability and options that the market wants, but does not get with the Taleo Performance module – sort of a contradiction.  SFSF’s Talent side gives the depth and maturity that simply isn’t there on the SFSF recruiting end.

Next, looking at their market presence, you decide who has the advantage.  While Bersin points out that SuccessFactors is in every RFP for Talent Management, Taleo is also in every RFP for Talent Acquisition.  This is not scientific at all, but I’m going to say that SuccessFactors has the advantage here.  My argument is that recruiting is not so much more complex than performance, compensation, succession, mobility, etc, and that Taleo has much more to build.  I’m also going to say that traditional recruiting is much more of a commodity, and that the Talent Management side is often seen as more of a business transaction.  Recruiting does not come out of commoditization until you get to mobility strategy, and that is generally a TM function than TA (granted cross functionality).  Its generally going to be easier for SFSF to build TA than for Taleo to improve the TM functions.

Lastly, looking at leading the market segments they specialize in, I’m going to say that Taleo has a pretty healthy lead in the TA market, and while SFSF is omnipresent, they don’t have quite the dominance simply due to the larger number of players.  Still, I think overall I’m looking at SFSF to be positioned better in the remainder of 2010 as the economy picks up steam and budgets continue to return.

Employee Blogging for Recruiting

I’m not sure how many of you noticed the NYT article a few months ago on MIT student bloggers.

M.I.T.’s bloggers, who are paid $10 an hour for up to four hours a week, offer thoughts on anything that might interest a prospective student. Some offer advice on the application process and the institute’s intense workload; others write about quirkier topics, like warm apple pie topped with bacon and hot caramel sauce, falling down the stairs or trying to set a world record in the game of Mattress Dominos.

Posting untouched student writing — and comments reacting to that writing — does carry some risks. Boring, sloppily written posts do nothing to burnish an institutional image, college admissions officials say, and there is always the possibility of an inflammatory or wildly negative posting.  ((Lewin, Tamar, October 1, 2009.  “M.I.T. Taking Student Blogs to Nth Degree.”  Retrived from

Certainly we have our recruiters on the blogs (look how many recruiting and HR blogs there are nowdays).  And we’re all over linked in and facebook, especially facebook where we can characterize ourselves and our organization with some personality.  But I’m not really sure how many of us have looked into employee blogging.  Employee blogging are not those snippets of quotes that you see on recruiting pages.  They are not the rehearsed lines of “I love my company so much” branding with precision.  Instead, they are the raw, uncensored words of employees and their lives at your organization.

I think that employee blogging holds less risk than student blogging.  Students are expected to say whatever they want, but employees are still bound by the employment contract, and while we may tell people to write whatever they want, at the end of the day, employees still want to keep their jobs.  If you use employee blogs, you’re probably also selecting some of your smartest, most productive performers (and hopefully well compensated engaged employees too).  If this is the case, you have little to worry about.  What you will have is a blogging forum that tells potential employees what a day in the life at your organization really might be like.  Candidates get to hear from the mouths of real practitioners what to expect and what the culture holds, and even what some of the pitfalls are.  If you’re lucky, you not only attract the right people, but you might even weed out those who are not a good fit for the organizational culture.

In a few months, I’ll be hitting year number 5 of blogging at systematicHR.  Come on everyone, it’s time to get in the blogging game already.  🙂

Employee Selection and Workforce Diversity: Are Current Tools Up To The Task?

Guest Author:  Stephen B. Jeong, Ph.D.

Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and Native Americans now constitute more than one-third of the U.S. population. By 2042, they are projected to make up nearly one-half of all Americans.  Given these rapidly changing demographics—and consequently, the rapidly changing U.S. marketplace—many organizations are recognizing that workplace diversity is a business necessity. Creating and promoting a diverse workforce is particularly essential for industries where a significant number of employees deal face-to-face with prospective customers, because the latter are more likely to buy from people like themselves. So retail, financial, legal, insurance, hospitality and consumer goods businesses may want and need staff diversity. Yet existing selection tools may not be up to the task. Here’s why:

1. Job tests based on outdated material

In the context of legal defensibility and employee selection tools, the concept of “validation” simply refers to accumulated “evidence” showing that a given selection is, indeed, a good (or valid) predictor of job performance.  Selection specialists (or those who design selection tests) typically gather validation evidence by correlating job applicants’ scores on a given selection test (e.g., on intelligence, job knowledge, values, personality) with their future job performance (predictive validation) or using incumbents (concurrent validation).  If the resulting correlation is relatively high, the test is considered to be a valid predictor of job performance.  Employment tests and other employee selection tools are judged on their “validation” strength, or the degree to which they can accurately predict future job performance. If there is a high correlation between an applicant’s score on a given selection test (e.g., testing intelligence, job knowledge, values or personality) and his/her future performance, the test is considered to be a good predictor.

One critical issue with the above approach is that the majority of the tests used in the U.S. today were validated primarily on a Caucasian pool. This means that while a given test may work well in predicting job performance for Caucasian job applicants, it may be biased, at a minimum, and in the worst case, invalid, when used with non-Caucasian applicants.  There are proven differences between Caucasians and non-Caucasians in terms of values, management and leadership styles, and general work-related preferences, and selection tests that fail to recognize them may be unhelpful for predicting job performance, retention, and engagement of non-Caucasians.

2. Differences between Western and non-Western cultures

Intercultural academics have been able to label what many of us have already known; that there are cultural variations that can differentially impact one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the workplace.  In addition to the more commonly known “individualistic” and “collectivistic” cultural differences, employees in Western countries (e.g., U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand) generally prefer a more equal power distribution in the workplace, while employees from Asian countries (e.g., South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan) tend to be more accustomed to autocratic or paternalistic power relationships – or top-down authority.  They also differ in assertiveness, preferred levels of uncertainty and short-term vs. long-term orientations, all of which may impact one’s job performance, satisfaction, and promotion opportunities. For example, while assertiveness is generally a desired trait in Western societies, it is much less so and even frowned upon in countries such as Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. If a selection test assumes assertiveness as a desirable trait, a Taiwan-born applicant, who may have been a top salesman in his country, may be knocked out of the selection process here.

3. Difference Among Non-Caucasians And Acculturation

In addition to the Western vs. non-Western distinction, selection tools should further take into account differences among non-Western cultures – e.g., Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Native Americans, differences between foreign- and US-born, and differences among nationalities within a racial or ethnic group – which include customs, values, work ethics, body language, and communication styles. Ethiopians are very different from South Africans; Costa Ricans from Bolivians; Japanese from Koreans. The point here is that these sub-groups vary greatly with respect to normative values that guide their behavior in the workplace.

People also vary with respect to their degree of acculturation and assimilation to the mainstream. Naturally, attitudes and values of those individuals who have resided in the U.S. for longer periods of time are likely to be more similar to the general American population. However, more recent immigrants are less likely to be so. Hence, if an organization’s business and diversity strategy dictates the inclusion of more recent immigrants, it is critical to understand that current selection tools used in the U.S. would be least applicable to recent immigrants from non-Western countries.

It is important to make one thing clear:  I’m not suggesting that all selection tests must identify and include all unique cultural attributes in order to be useful – that would be impractical. Rather, one should simply consider the fact that the majority of the selection tests in use today are likely to hold less value when used on non-Western and non-Caucasian applicants.

So, what’s the answer?  There is no one simple solution. It depends on an organization’s industry, strategy, mission and priorities as well as its customer demographics.  If the goal is to sell to new immigrants, one should select applicants whose views closely mirror that of one’s prospective customers. If the future American market place—in which the current minorities add up to almost a majority—is at all a consideration, our current employment selection tools need to be revised to reflect both the common as well as those unique cultural attributes that can play out in the work setting.  For current and future generations of immigrant workers—whose primary identification is with a non-Western culture—a new measurement approach should lead to a more meaningful (and valid) performance prediction—one that addresses those attributes valued by their culture.

Stephen B. Jeong, is currently the Managing Director of Waypoint People Solutions –, a human capital consulting firm that focuses on high precision employee diagnostic surveys using cutting-edge measurement technology and methodologies. He holds Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational psychology from the Ohio State University and has been advising private, public, and government organizations since 2000.  He can be reached at