An introduction to Predictive Recruitment

Who (realistically) practises predictive recruitment in 2014?

If I told you that after asking an applicant just a few questions you could know, with 90% certainty, whether (or not) to recruit them, would you take the time to listen to me?

Let’s talk about predictive recruitment, starting with the decryption of this expression that turns traditional practice upside down.

Actually, this is pure verbosity! Recruitment, by definition, implies the anticipation of a candidate’s capacity to meet the expectations of a given position within a given organisation and the selection accordingly.

So why use such a figure of speech? Skeptics say that this is just another effect of the trend to reinvent the wheel. I will allow myself another interpretation of this growing pattern: recruitment, as it has been practiced in the past, does not meet the original objective, which is to know if a person will be successful in their future position.

No, today, recruitment too often boils down to knowing if you can tolerate such an applicant in such a function. It is not a recruiter problem, it is the phenomenon of the recruitment process, such as it is thought, to start with a job description or definition of expectations.

Read the first that falls into your hands, and you will understand what I mean when I write that recruitment targets the wrong mark. The qualification “predictive” refers to recruitment centred on anticipation; the anticipation of success potential and in knowing that “success” includes two levels. The first level is personal – is the candidate going to obtain good results in the work for which they must deliver? The second is organisational – does the candidate have the capacity to work within the company culture and in the given team?

Who practices predictive recruitment today?

Google, Xerox, Microsoft, IBM are some of the companies that practice predictive recruitment. On the surface, it could appear that this choice is due to their (colossal) size and the (technology) industry.

In fact, it is not that, because predictive recruitment is economically accessible for the majority of companies, especially if the ROI is well beyond the investment that it involves. What these companies have in common, and that they share with all who have used predictive recruitment, are the following factors.

  • They measure the activity of employees in the company (KPI, team impact, conscientiousness, absenteeism etc).
  • They know the best decisions made are based on facts and they take this into account in their recruitment.

To improve their recruitment process, they simply take into account the factors that promote success (as regularly measured) and use them to make a better selection.

Example: Google stopped filtering applicants based on the reputation of the universities from which they graduated, because the correlation with success on the job was weak. They prefer other indicators, such as those recognised by Laszlo Bock in The New York Times, of which the first is reasoning ability and learning process.

Finally, switching to this manner of recruitment is more a question of will than means, namely, the will to shake up existing practices.

Do French companies want to make the transition?

It is a real question. Across the Atlantic, predictive recruitment has already been growing for four years, but I have optimistically noted two major changes taking place in French companies: firstly, the use of tests has become more prevalent now, where five years ago we still had far too many recruiters favouring “human techniques”, and secondly, HR departments have adopted SIRH (HR information management systems) for the collection and use of employee performance indicators.

All that remains is to finish the circle. Put into perspective these two types of information – that collected on applicants before recruitment and that related to their performance on the job – to finally build better screening processes where the company, as well as the candidates, all win; better overall performance for the former and more satisfaction and success for the latter.

And you, where are you?

To create a precise inventory of French company practices in the field, AssessFirst, predictive recruitment specialist in France, is currently running a study on this question. Two minutes is enough time to respond. Of course, participants receive their survey results, which will allow them to compare their practice with those of other companies in their industry.

“Click here to see the infographic on predictive recruitment practices.”


Predictive recruitment requires work identifying upstream determinants of professional success, as well as the overhaul of recruitment processes. Once established, it is a strategic asset for HR departments. This recruitment practice is a return to the essence of recruitment: the art of anticipating capacity for success.

Skeptical of these ideas? Contact me and I will prove the opposite.

Enthusiastic about these ideas? Contact me and I will tell you more.

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