Why Soft Data Matters in Your Recruitment Process

Soft Data
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Anyone who has ventured into the business of recruitment is no stranger to the world of fickle numbers, and staggering metrics to be analyzed on a daily basis. Whether we are measuring time, cost, quality or the reach of our marketing strategies during our recruitment process, the massive amount of information that we have access to through big data can go well beyond our expectations.

Which is why it is important to understand that data and analytics are not only used to interpret “cold numbers” or graphs, but also to identify patterns of behavior that can unveil vital information that allows us to succeed in our quest for finding the best talent. Although relegated and usually pushed aside, soft data describes the qualitative as well as other emotional quotient components involved in the recruitment process, allowing us to gain a clearer perspective of the candidates.

But how do you measure the unquantifiable?

Although hiring begins with recruiters mining through hard data for the best talent available, it is only when we integrate soft data into the mix—by taking into consideration emotional components, such as motivation, empathy, self-awareness, along with weighing people’s feelings and opinions—that we are able to assess talent objectively. Therefore, the final decision to hire a prospect needs to consider ALL data.

Soft data allows you to understand why some hard metrics patterns lead to unexpected results, and even measure the likelihood of success of a candidate in the position you are trying to fill. Although it’s considered qualitative data, there are ways to measure this information and compare them to the ideal characteristics you are after:

• Interviews to assess and confirm a candidate’s general background and prior experience, while identifying soft skills and traits in the moment. You can place your candidate in a realistic setting or simulation, so you can test their skills in action.

We recommend using team building activities or gamification strategies to see how good they can complete tasks inherent to the role. This way, you can trigger certain behaviors and reactions and observer their levels of productivity and motivation based on how they carry themselves out in different scenarios.

An example of this was achieved by IBM with the game CityOne, which was used to test the decision-making skills of their candidates that were later compared to the values and culture of the company.

• Questionnaires, surveys, and tests, including simple personality questions to get an idea of how well your candidates would fit in with you company’s culture, and how suitable they are for the position you are trying to fill.

For a more thorough analysis, you can also use psychometric tests to evaluate emotional intelligence, critical reasoning skills, verbal and numerical reasoning, in addition to building an assessable personality profile.

You can easily find plenty of other tests online that will help you measure other elements of personality and abilities such as: initiative, concern for others, persistence, stress tolerance, or attention to detail.

Soft data can help you make better decisions… as long as you understand what it means

In simple words, soft data is the one backing up that gut feeling when you have found “the one” or when letting go is your best choice. Although obtaining this data is very simple, interpreting it can be quite complex. The first thing you need to understand is that there are no right or wrong answers, but your candidates’ response may meet more or less the expectations you have for the role you’re trying to fill.

In order to assess your results accurately you need to cross-reference your candidates’ responses and profile with your best-performing employees, so you can identify how they score on a type of standardized ranking system that describes the candidate persona you’re after. You can build this ranking by surveying your current employees or researching the market for similar roles. This way you can eliminate subjectivity and provide measurable data to back up your decisions and choices.

Data can be overwhelming, and understanding how to analyze, organize and interpret it can be a strenuous task that not many are willing to fulfill. However, being able to identify and avail of useful information obtained from it is essential in many steps of the recruitment process.

Grace Cattini
Online Copy & Content Writer