Recruitment and employee selection without gut feeling

June 17th, 2018 - Jacco Valkenburg

An employee selection process based on a motivation letter and a resume plus two job interviews is still common practice to make a choice who the new colleague will be. The result? The candidate who presents himself best and who looks most similar to the interviewer, for example, because he/she studied at the same school or has had a similar career path, is often preferred.

Savvy recruiters and organisations these days, use selection methods that have a much better predictive value as to whether a candidate will actually be successful in his or her job. Methods that enable systematic analysis earlier in the process on the basis of objective and hard criteria, instead of a gut feeling of a manager and their personal preference.

New technologies that will help improve matching candidates with jobs include artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data, blockchain, chat bots, video applications, virtual reality, online assessments, or a combination of these with smarter software. The fundamental change thanks to these technologies lies in the area of ​​better employee selection; from fingerspitzengefühl from the interviewer to data-based selection in which video and gamification also play an increasing role. Moreover, diversity and inclusiveness can be improved this way.

So for which problems in recruitment are these new technologies a solution?

Here are the biggest issues with traditional ways of employee selection

  • Selection on motivation letter? There is no correlation between a good motivation letter and a good software engineer. Or mechanic. Or a trainee. When you are looking for a carpenter, do you judge a carpenter on his letter or the work he has done?
  • Resume selection? A selection on the best matching resume is usually a selection on a traditional background and career path, not on someone’s performance in the past or future potential. Moreover, research shows that as many as 63 percent of applicants are telling untruths in the resume (source: Risk Advisory Group, 2015).
  • Selection on diploma? A degree does not equal high intelligence or high cognitive capacity. The person was a good student but that doesn’t equal a great employee.
  • Discrimination – whether consciously or unconsciously – happens. It’s proven many times in research and experiments with anonymous job applications.
  • Interviews are really difficult. Many interviewers rely on their intuition to make a decision. And often they make a decision based on the “beer test” i.e. can they drink a beer with that person.

In short, job applicants are often judged on their appearance, but that says little about how good a person is in the task that needs to be done. The list of human errors and common misunderstandings in the recruitment process can easily be made much longer. For that reason, a selection based on a computer algorithm, instead of a human being, is an idea worth considering. Here’s why…

New smart technologies in recruitment and employee selection

The above mentioned insights have an accelerated impact on the modern selection process, which is organised differently thanks to some new developments in smart technologies. The most important developments are briefly described below.

With chatbots a better candidate experience is possible
Chatbots can offer a better candidate experience thanks to a personal, real-time, error-free and very user-friendly experience. They are always active and are available 24 hours a day and are now much more intelligent thanks to their learning ability. This allows for simpler, but also more complex, repetitive tasks to be automated.

A video-cv or -pitch provides a quick first impression
You quickly get a first impression of an applicant with a video-cv or -pitch (a 10-30 seconds video recording). A video-cv can be sent by the candidate himself, for example when applying via WhatsApp.

Video interviews provide structure and time savings
Personal interviews are time-consuming to plan and to execute but they are also often done in an unstructured way. Add to this the limited availability of interviewers and candidates and it becomes interesting to choose for a place and / or time-independent alternative solution; the online video interview (recorded or live).

Virtual Reality create an experience
Virtual reality is technology that creates a virtual world using simulations. This is used to provide candidates a truly lifelike experience about how it is to work for a company. Or a fun way to meet employees and virtually walk around the office.

Online assessments replace resumes
With an online assessment, a better first selection can be made quickly, before a personal interview is scheduled. Resumes are not needed as people are judged on their skills, knowledge or competencies so you know what quality you get upfront. The benefits for an applicant are also great, because it can make an online assessment anytime and anywhere without the need to travel for a personal interview.

Realistic selection by Serious Gaming and Gamification
We prefer nowadays that an applicant can prove himself as the best candidate by completing a hack, puzzle or other (simulation) game. This is a further development of online assessments to avoid that they are not boring but, more importantly, also provide a realistic impression of the actual work that needs to be done. Companies benefit by hiring higher quality new employees and candidates with a much better understanding of the job that needs to be done (so they can also make a better decision).

Verification of resumes with blockchain
Wouldn’t it be great to know immediately and with certainty that the skills, qualifications and experience listed in a resume of a candidate is true? With blockchain verification, there is (potentially) a way to verify many, if not all aspects of a candidate’s work experience.

Faster selection with the help of AI and machine learning
Smart algorithms can accurately establish someone’s personality, for example with the help of video analysis of micro-expressions in a person’s face. Or base this personality profile on a short video interview and analysing the language of that person.

Or analysing written text on an online profile. There are tools with smart algorithms that can analyse a Facebook and Twitter profile and create a personality profile, without the applicant having to do anything.

A step further is the use of software that – with language algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning – can learn from employees who are successful or do less well within a job. Smart software can pick these traits up, compare findings with a top performer, and make a prediction on success in a job. For example, it can be predicted and assessed to what extent a person has an ideal personality profile for a company and a position.

For the outside world, the use of new disruptive technology in the selection process will not immediately be visible. But the above-mentioned tools are being implemented now and it changes the way we select staff. In fact, that is now in full swing.

Buy the book ‘Recruitment 3.0‘ (Dutch language only) to learn more about all the opportunities and risks of new technologies in recruitment and the necessary changes to make this a success.

More info book ‘Recruitment 3.0’

Tip: visit, the website for this book, with an overview of new smart technologies including names of suppliers and usage by organisations.

Jacco Valkenburg is an international recruitment expert, trainer and author of 4 bestselling books about recruiting (over 30.000 copies sold). He has extensive experience in global recruitment strategies and execution spanning numerous countries for leading companies. As founder of Recruit2 and Recruiter University he provides companies with recruitment and talent management solutions and expertise. His mission is helping companies ‘from good to great staffing’. Furthermore he is managing a group of 200.000 Recruitment Consultants on LinkedIn and has its own blog


For more information feel free to contact Jacco Valkenburg, by telephone +31 6 2825 7098 or by e-mail

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