On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup talks to Bas van de Haterd about the state of innovation in talent acquisitions so far in 2022.
Some Conversation Highlights:
Listening time: 28 minutes
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Bas van de Haterd
Bas van de Haterd is a self-employed professional that helps companies recruit smarter by using the right technology. He is mainly known for his in-depth knowledge of pre-screening assessment technology. He also runs a research, award, and event called Digitaal-Werven that focuses on the candidate experience.Follow Follow
Music: 00:00 This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: 00:33 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today, we have Bas on, and our topic is, we’ve actually done this show about a year ago. Might have been a little bit more than that. But the current state of innovation and talent selection. So, boss has got a couple case studies that we’re going to run through and I can’t wait. This is going to be fun. Bas, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself to the audience?
Bas van de Hat…: 01:00 Of course. Well, my name is Bas van de Haterd. I am a Dutchman, and one of the things, I consult with a lot of companies and I train and I speak, and one of the other things I do is I have an award and an event on selection and innovation in selection, and I think that’s the topic of today, William.
William Tincup: 01:20 Indeed it is. Indeed it is. Well, let’s start with, I know you have, I think, three or four, let’s start with your first story.
Bas van de Hat…: 01:28 Well, there are four nominations and the very first company is PricewaterhouseCoopers. I think everybody will know them as one of the big four accountants. And what they did was, they had this really cool tool and they’re piloting it where they, based on somebody’s facial expressions, and actually some really great scientific research which is done there. Not the stuff which your Senate is now looking into, completely BS stuff. This is actual, scientifically so validated, on motivation, how actually motivated are people in order to get a job? And also, how challenging it is for them to do a certain assessment, which is really cool.
So, they’re not just looking at how do you perform at certain cognitive tasks, but also how stressed are you and how challenging is it for you? And they’ve been able, this tool, which is called Neurolytics, been able to measure that based on basically your heart rate. They can now see your heart rate in specific things in your face, on a video camera and they keep on, because I was very skeptical when it came to facial recognition and stuff like that. So, in the jury, we drilled them really hard on, how does this affect people of color? Every six months, they actually calibrate the algorithm again and see if there’s any potential bias in there. And how do they do this is, for example, because they’re looking so much at heart rate, they’ve got people actually doing the same task, looking in the camera with the clips on their fingers to actually measure the heart rate and make sure that there’s no bias in there.
William Tincup: 03:23 Right. So, I mean, motivation to get the job, I get that. Stress, to understand how one performs under stress, but also how stressful is the assessment. What are they trying to learn? I get with motivation, it’s the interest. Are you really interested, or are you just showing up? Did you apply to a hundred jobs? Are you really interested in this job? I totally get that. That one’s crystal clear to me. I would love to know that. I wish there was a bubble above people’s heads where I could really see into that. Do you really want this job? I get that part. The stress part, it eludes me a little bit, but explain.
Bas van de Hat…: 04:09 Well, no, they mostly look at the motivation. That’s the main driver of it, to be honest, and that’s actually, and I can share with you, they recently published an article in Nature on that, which is really interesting, that based on web experiences, so on camera, recruiters actually use the same signals to look for motivation, but interpret them 180 degrees different. So, what a human sees as a motivated candidate in front of a webcam, turns out to be an unmotivated one and the other way around. It’s fascinating research. And they’re also looking at, one of the other things is working under pressure. So, if we put you under stress, how stress-resilient are you? Which is, of course, something which, in an accountant, you will get into stressful situations where you need to have a certain deadline, meet a certain deadline, et cetera, et cetera.
William Tincup: 05:06 Well, that one I get. I think it’d be more nuanced, I think, probably in the future, as that evolves, is that’s more nuance to the job, not necessarily the assessment, right? I could be stressed about an assessment. Someone could put pre-calculus or a trigonometry assessment in front of me. Yeah, I’m going to be a little bit stressed, because it’s been a while. However, if my job is demand generation, yeah, I’m not stressed about that. You know what I mean? I guess stress isn’t equal across those experiences. And I’m sure they’re calibrating that over time to then be more experience based around the job, the role or whatever that is.
Bas van de Hat…: 05:46 Yeah. And that’s why, like I said, they’re using it as a pilot.
William Tincup: 05:50 That’s cool.
Bas van de Hat…: 05:52 And they’re not using it as a kick-out criteria, they’re not deselecting anybody. Just looking at data right now on, how is this working? And what I found interesting is they’re starting the pilot in the digital team where everybody loves new technology. So, they’ve got a really good buy-in, and they’re currently just looking at, what extra data can we gather from this, and does this have any predictability? And they are also, if somebody scores a little bit lower on the engagement test and it’s not immediately kicking somebody out, but they will be probed a little more on the actual engagement with the job. “Do you really want this job?”
William Tincup: 06:39 I love it.
Bas van de Hat…: 06:40 And what I found interesting, because, of course, I tried to test myself as well. I was not very engaged. And I said that to them. And then they literally said to me, “Yeah, because everybody who ever demoed us is less engaged,” which is actually really logical, because you’re not applying to an actual job.
William Tincup: 07:02 That’s right, that’s right.
Bas van de Hat…: 07:03 So, of course you score lower on your engagement.
William Tincup: 07:03 And that is truly, truly innovative. I love that. All right. Next story.
Bas van de Hat…: 07:07 So, they didn’t win, because like I said, it’s too much in a pilot, and one of the things my award looks at is actual results and specifics. The second one is the complete and total opposite. It’s our biggest pharmacy chain, basically. And what they’ve done is open hiring, the exact opposite of selection, but let’s be very honest, innovation in selection could be selecting on less. And what they’ve actually said is, “Listen, we have such a hard time finding warehouse workers,” like will probably resonate with everybody in the US as well who’s looking for warehouse workers. So, they said, “Show up, we’ll show you around. We’ll tell you what the job is. And in the end, you will get one question. Do you want it? And if so, you can start tomorrow. ”
William Tincup: 08:03 Oh, I love this on so many levels. I love this. It’s obviously going to work probably better in the hourly environment than it would in a professional environment, but I could see some applications there. But I love this. First of all, show up, there’s some basic stuff here. “Show up at the place.” Okay, cool. Now, let’s, not a day in the life, but a walkthrough, a mini walkthrough. “Here’s all the different things. Here’s what you’d be doing. See this guy right here? Yeah, he’s doing that job. She’s doing the job. Okay. Do you want to do the job? Here’s what it pays. Here’s when you take your breaks,” basic stuff. “Do you want the job? Great.”
Bas van de Hat…: 08:44 Yeah. And if we’re talking about results, they hired 56 people, of which about 50 would’ve said they would’ve never applied for the job because they’re sick and tired of getting rejected to everything.
William Tincup: 08:57 Right, right. I mean, again, in certain industries, this is just perfect. It’s like taking them on a tour. It’s a hybrid of things we’ve seen in the past, because we’ve done days in the life, but that’s more on the professional side. This is actually taking it to the hourly market and saying, you know what? You skip the application stuff. Just skip all that. Skip all those steps and phases and stuff. I’m sure there’s probably some basic background screening, especially…
Bas van de Hat…: 09:29 No, no. We don’t background screen in the Netherlands.
William Tincup: 09:31 Wow. That’s fantastic.
Bas van de Hat…: 09:34 All the background screens you do in the US, like drug testing, those are illegal by law in the Netherlands. And to be honest, pot is legal in the Netherlands. It’s kind of a problem.
William Tincup: 09:47 Well, I think, and again, in a pharmacy environment, if they’re going to have access to pharmaceutical, behind the pharmacy.
Bas van de Hat…: 09:54 No, no, no. Sorry, it’s not a pharmacy. It’s more a drug store chain. Sorry.
William Tincup: 09:59 Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Bas van de Hat…: 10:01 My translation error.
William Tincup: 10:02 No, no, no. No, it makes sense that. I mean, first of all, you could see this in food service. You could see this in hospitality. You could see this in a lot of… As you mentioned, warehouses. A lot of those hourly environments where they’re struggling. Again, just show up. Here. 8AM, show up, or 3PM, whatever the bid is. Show up. We’ll walk you through the thing. You’ll ask questions. We’ll basically go back and forth. You’ll see other people doing the job, and it’s a yes/no. Pretty simple.
Bas van de Hat…: 10:37 And two things, which is interesting, two lessons they learned. Ghosting is as big as before they changed to open hiring. So, there’s no extra dropout rate. They’re also now applying this to actually front-end retail, so the staff in retail stores, they’re also doing open hiring now. And what they did notice was that your regional brand is very important. So, they tried an open hiring for their new location, and the people showing up for so much less than in the city where they’ve been for the past, I don’t know, 60 or 80 years, where everybody knows they have a warehouse. They opened up a new warehouse and they were like, “Well, apparently it doesn’t work as well there, because people just don’t know us yet,” while they’re one of the most well known brands. They weren’t known as an employer. So, it does help to have some employer brand presence, so to say.
William Tincup: 11:43 You know, what’s great about that is it’s taken all the friction out of that process. It’s just reduced it to very little. You either show up or you don’t, and at the end of the bit, you either want the job or you don’t. That’s about as frictionless of an environment as you can create. I love that.
Bas van de Hat…: 12:01 They also, they didn’t win, but they also had a lot of sympathy from the jury. Actually, all the cases had votes from the jury, it was as close as it gets. But let’s go on to the third one. It’s a healthcare insurance firm. And what they’ve done is they implemented a supplier, a game-based assessment called BrainsFirst. They still do select on a resume and motivation, but instead of really being screened out, they immediately now get brain-based test, and this is added to the resume, a motivational letter or corporate letter. And from there, those who seem suitable are invited for a day where there’s the normal process.
William Tincup: 13:00 And, the brain-based test is cognitive ability?
Bas van de Hat…: 13:04 Yeah. It’s cognitive ability, but not general cognitive ability. It measures every cognitive part that you’ve got. They measure over 55 different cognitive abilities, while we usually see, if we do a cognitive ability test, it measures about four. Turns out you have many, many more, and they build an actual brain profile. So, they also look at your inhibition, which is very low at my end. They look at your anticipation. They look at everything which you can possibly look at. The test, by the way, comes from professional sports originally, and what they now see is that they are looking differently at people, and they mainly saw the male/female diversity for this traineeship increase.
Now, you’re probably thinking they hired more women, but it turned out that all of their trainees for the past years were women. For some reason, they kept on hiring female trainees. They were lucky if one guy entered the traineeship from after the selection round. And right now, because they always hire five trainees every six months, it’s always a two-three split, either two men or two women. But they see now, because they see the qualities, and what I thought, really awesome about this process, is that because they know, based on your cognitive abilities, your strengths and your weaknesses, they are able to coach you better as a trainee on your weaknesses when you are going into a project where they know you’re going to not be as good as you probably would’ve hoped to be.
William Tincup: 15:00 Right, right. So, it’s not playing on your strengths. Some of these weaknesses are going to be teased out. A couple questions, Bas. One is cognitive ability here in the States usually gets equated to IQ. And obviously it doesn’t really talk a whole lot about EQ, and you’ve actually, with this particular assessment, it’s looking at 55 different things. Inhibitions, as you mentioned. A bunch of other things. First of all, what do we get wrong about cognitive ability, and what have they gotten right?
Bas van de Hat…: 15:35 Well, cognitive ability is a very ambiguous term. You said, we usually say cognitive abilities, IQ. EQ is also cognitive ability. Those are actually six other building blocks. And then there’s this immense amount of building blocks in your brain. I call them building blocks, cognitive abilities, which are also there, which we usually don’t even measure. For example, stress resilience is a cognitive ability. Not useful for those who ever thought of IQ, basically, the professors, but very important for things like, I don’t know, Formula One driver.
William Tincup: 16:16 Yeah, yeah. Pilots.
Bas van de Hat…: 16:17 Air traffic controller. So, all of these things matter, and what they’ve done is they’ve got a few neuroscientists who actually know how the brain works, and those guys said, “Yeah, it’s all good, it’s all fine that those people kept on talking about cognitive ability is IQ. But IQ is a 10th of your complete cognitive profile. Let’s see those other 90%, and let’s find tests to measure those, and let’s build complete and total brain profiles.” Because, like I said, this comes from professional sports, and I know you’re a big soccer fan. They come from soccer. They’ve been used by all the major soccer teams now in Europe.
William Tincup: 17:06 Ajax.
Bas van de Hat…: 17:07 Ajax has recently been using them. PSV has been using them for a long time, Red Bull Salzburg has been using them. I know, and this won’t resonate to many of your listeners, but Arsène Wenger was one of their very first supporters who said, “Listen, if you guys can pull this off, I’m your client.” Unfortunately, they got the science after he left Arsenal, but that’s a different story. And what they’ve done is they said, “Listen, those IQ parts of cognitive ability don’t really have any value in soccer. So, let’s see which other parts of cognitive ability do.” And that’s how they started working with the two universities in Amsterdam, because we’ve got two of them, and that’s actually the chief science officer comes from one of them, and their chief technology officer comes from the other one. They literally put people under MRIs while playing their games to see which parts of the brain lit up, to see which cognitive ability is being accessed to do a certain task.
William Tincup: 18:17 Oh, I love this. Do you know if they did any baseline with organizations, to understand successful people, we’ll use Ajax as an example?
Bas van de Hat…: 18:28 Absolutely.
William Tincup: 18:29 Did they understand, “Okay, our more successful players in different positions, obviously this is their brain profile,” et cetera? What does that look like?
Bas van de Hat…: 18:40 Yeah. No, for soccer, yes, they actually have a lot of Champions League-level players in there. So, they now match [inaudible 00:18:49] player brains, saying, “Listen, this guy really looks like,” well, I’m sure he’s not in there, but Lionel Messi, brain-wise. So, he’s going to be a genius player. I have an idea, they won’t tell me which top players are in there. That’s the trade secret they won’t even share with me of offer a lot of beer, but I actually know who partnered with them, so I got a few ideas, but that’s a different story again. So, for soccer, yes. I know the air traffic control works with them, and they also did their right testing as well.
William Tincup: 19:22 Right. Create a baseline, understand what success looks like internally, high performers, et cetera.
Bas van de Hat…: 19:29 Yeah. And for [inaudible 00:19:30] they did that as well. Basically what they did was they looked at which trainees are actually staying at the company.
William Tincup: 19:38 I love that.
Bas van de Hat…: 19:39 And who leaves straight after. So, they had a long, they’re also…
William Tincup: 19:46 Well, who stays and who’s the most productive, right? So who stays is one criteria that you do care about, loyalty. But if they’re an underperformer or just not great, you care about that. It’s going to be a bunch of things, like you said. It’s going to be a matrix of things that you care about, but understanding what success looks like in an organization, position by position, and then using this. I mean, 55 different criteria is amazing. Do you think that number grows over time?
Bas van de Hat…: 20:18 No, no. As far as I know, they literally got what they call the cognitive building blocks. They say they got them all.
William Tincup: 20:24 That’s it. This is the genome of building blocks. Okay.
Bas van de Hat…: 20:28 Yeah. And what, as far as I know, it does, they are still matching them together, which interact with which to build a trait. Because, like I said, these are Lego blocks. Now, which Lego blocks do I put on each other to build an actual cognitive trait or ability? And those can differ also for different jobs. Now, in the case of [inaudible 00:20:51], this insurance company, they did not have any performance data because it’s really hard to know when is a trainee genuinely successful, because it wasn’t a management traineeship. It’s a trainee ship as in, you will learn to find your way within our company. In three years’ time, you’ll get six different projects, and then you can decide where you want to go with your life, basically. So, it’s really difficult to have actual hard performance data on that.
William Tincup: 21:23 Yeah, but over time they’ll have more of that. I mean, just over time, this just gets crisper and sharper, just with more data.
Bas van de Hat…: 21:31 And what I loved about this one, sorry, is that every candidate gets their personal brain profile with the strengths and their weaknesses, so every rejection, and we’re talking about a hundred candidates that actually did the game, and only 16 were invited to the day, and five were hired. So, all of those hundred people got what some of them literally described as a present, to know one’s strengths and weaknesses. And I was actually in the jury session, there was actually a trainee who was hired through this. So, they didn’t show up with their HR director. They showed up with a trainee who actually could tell how he experienced it, and of course, he got hired. And he said, “Yeah, my roommate actually got rejected, and she was still very positive about the entire experience because…”
William Tincup: 22:28 Yeah, because there’s something there for them.
Bas van de Hat…: 22:30 Exactly, and that’s what I loved about this. Also, again, they didn’t win, but they were received very positively by judges. And the fourth case is a company called Building Heroes. Now, they use the exact same technology. So, the same technology provider, BrainsFirst is behind this. And the reason they won, by the way, is because they simply have more actual performance of the tool to show for. And what Building Heroes does is also a traineeship, and because this tool selects on potential, it’s quite logical that most of their clients are in the traineeship world, or the graduate world.
They’re a staffing firm in the building industry. And what they say is, “We do a staffing traineeship. So, you get a three-year program. And in those three years, you will do a different job at a different company for one year at a time.” And you’re able to figure out, “Am I more of a calculator, or am I more of a foreman? What is it that I want to do in the building industry? In the construction industry?” And what they found was, next to the fact that they now are able to better place, again, people on their strengths and see talents which they didn’t see as well, and this is the actual ROI, they have seen since they started using this assessment 60% less attrition.
William Tincup: 24:01 That’s worth it right there. That’s fantastic. And not only that, I mean, that’s one sign obviously, but it’s also, that’s people going out the door, but it’s people staying in the door that are more productive. So, it’s a bunch of other things that I love about this. And then, they’re sitting on more data, so it just makes more sense.
Bas van de Hat…: 24:24 Yeah. And one of the stories, if I can share a story with you, which one of their consultants was telling with us. She said, “Listen, we’ve got this guy, and everybody, a building site foreman, we think the extrovert, the yeller. That’s the typical foreman type, right? And we had this really introverted, really smart guy. And for his second year in the traineeship, he came to me. He said, ‘Yeah, I am thinking I might want to become a foreman, but you’ll probably laugh at me.’ She said, ‘Well, no, because based on your brain profile, I think you have all the skills to become a foreman. You’re just not going to be the yelling type, but you’ll be an excellent foreman, because based on our most successful foreman, you have every trait it needs. You’re close to the perfect match to a foreman.'” But, without this data, because he is so introverted, they would’ve probably never given him a chance, and he’s succeeding now.
William Tincup: 25:27 And now, instead of the employee having the courage to then ask about that, they can then be more proactive based on the brain profile, and reach out to people. It’s internal mobility. They can reach out to those people and say, “Listen, your profile actually suggests that you’d be good at these other three positions. If you’re ever thinking you’d like to do something like that, let’s explore it.” So, based on that brain profile, especially over time with more data across the organization, this could actually be used as a proactive tool, not just on the selection side, but also on the internal mobility side.
Bas van de Hat…: 26:03 Absolutely. And they’ve been using this tool for four years now, and that’s why they have enough data to actually understand, what does a foreman look like? What does a calculator look like, from a cognitive perspective? And like I said, they won, because they’ve got the best ROI, 60% reduction. Their biggest challenge right now, by the way, is their clients, because they say, “We would love to stop hiring on diplomas, on past work experience. There’s no reason for us to do that, because we now know what a talent looks like. But all of our clients say, ‘Listen, if he didn’t finish his college or his university, we’re not going to put him in a position like that.'” So, their biggest challenge is their customers, because they don’t…
William Tincup: 26:55 Yeah. That’s just, over time, though, that changes. Again, with success, that just changes the perception that those things are important. And they can be important, depending on the brain profile. It’s one of the spokes in a much larger wheel. Bas, this has been wonderful as always. I love these stories. I think we need to do this every year, because I learn something. So, thank you so much for carving out time for us today.
Bas van de Hat…: 27:22 Thank you for everything, William.
William Tincup: 27:23 Absolutely. And thanks everyone for listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.
Music: 27:29 You’ve been listening to the Recruiting Live podcast by RecruitingDaily. Check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles, and news at–
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.