Data-analysis can filter for the best candidates out of hundreds of job applicants. But – how do you spot the perfect match for your company?

Hiring the wrong candidate can hurt a business’s bottom line. This is why data analysis has become more popular with employers. This trend started in the professional sports industry: instead of relying on subjective advice from a talent scout, a football team, like Arsenal, has an exclusive contract with a data agency that advises them on players to buy based on their performance data.

Software to filter out the best candidates

Companies like Netflix, Rituals and L’Oréal use similar methods to filter for the best people out of all applicants. A special software program collects data on candidates by analysing their wording and language, game results and/or psychological tests. Based on the results the hiring manager receives a short list with the most promising candidates. It’s up to the manager to make the final decision.

The role of the job interview

What is the role of job interviews in this process? The best practice is to combine the two selection processes. The data provides the hiring manager with objective information about a candidate, regardless of their age, gender or beliefs. It helps them to prepare for the final job interview.

So, how do you make sure you spot the right candidate? These tips can help.

1. See if the candidate asks the right questions

If you use a method to collect hard data about a candidate, you already know their capabilities. What you need to know is that they are interested in working for your company. The right candidates will ask questions that show they have done research on the company and their position. The way they phrase their questions and respond to your answers will tell you a lot about them.

2. Include colleagues in the application process

A candidate needs to be the right fit for the team they will work with. It’s important to the opinion of his or her future colleagues. Some companies introduce the two or three best candidates to the team by, for example, taking them out for lunch. This is a great way to see how a candidate behaves in a more informal setting, and to find out how enthusiastic they are about the job.

3. Find out if a candidate can show measurable results

What are the achievements of a candidate, and what do they want to achieve in the new role? Good candidate can show tangible results of projects they were involved in. A company like Google doesn’t even wait until the job interview, but keeps a record of the performance of talented employees who work for competitors.

4. Talk about why candidate left his former employers

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Although employees are much more mobile today than they were 10 years ago, you don’t want to hire a candidate who jumps jobs too fast. If someone left all his former employers within two years, it’s a good idea to find out why.

5. Look for someone who is different to you

One of the most common pitfalls in the hiring process is that you will automatically prefer people that look and behave like you. A thorough data analyses, combined with a good understanding of what kind of personality you are missing in your team will help you avoid this.

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