Twenty Questions About Online Screening: Part 2

In June I asked ERE subscribers to participate in a survey aimed at collecting the information needed to examine some trends related to the current and future use of online screening. Quite a few people were kind enough to respond to my survey. In fact, I collected so much good information that I had to report the results in two installments. Part 1 was published last month and discussed results related to the current usage of online screening. Today’s article, Part 2, discusses the obstacles to the adoption of online screening and respondents’ opinions about the future usage of online screening. In order to provide some context for the results to be discussed in today’s article, I want to quickly summarize the trends that were revealed in Part 1 of this series. Summary of Part 1 Sixty-five people responded to my survey. They held a variety of staffing-related jobs and were spread relatively evenly across organizations of all sizes. Their responses revealed the following trends in the usage of online screening:

  • Companies are using online screening. A large percentage of respondents (65%) are currently using some form of online screening. High level non-scientific screening was by far the most commonly used type.
  • Online screening is a flexible tool that can be used in a wide variety of situations. Almost all users of online screening employ more than one type of screening, and the screening seems to be used for a wide variety of jobs. This indicates that companies are able to choose from the available types of screening in order to construct screening systems that meet their specific needs.
  • Online screening works. Those who use online screening are less reliant on poor sources of candidate information such as the resume and are more likely to collect metrics needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of their hiring process. Those who are using online screening feel it is an effective tool that is making a significant contribution to their organization.

Now on to more results… Section 1: Obstacles to the Adoption of Online Screening In 2001, I collaborated with Kevin Wheeler on a survey investigating best practices for employee selection. While the results of this survey clearly revealed the presence of some obstacles to the adoption of online screening, we were not able to clearly identify what these obstacles were. So in this survey, I attempted to gather the information needed to answer the following questions:

  • Do practitioners perceive the presence of obstacles to the use of online screening?
  • If so, what are these obstacles and why do they exist?
  • What can be done to overcome these obstacles?

The data summarized in this section provide some interesting answers to these questions. 1. Do Obstacles Exist? Sixty-seven percent of respondents answered “yes” when asked if obstacles to the adoption of online screening exist within their organizations. Even more interesting is the fact that 83% of respondents whose organizations are NOT currently using screening answered “yes” to this question. Additional analyses revealed that responses to this question do not seem to be influenced by factors such as the size of the organization or the level of responsibility of the survey respondent. In all cases, about two-thirds of respondents indicated that obstacles do exist within their organization. These results clearly indicate a robust trend towards the presence of barriers to the adoption of online screening within respondents’ organizations. 2. What Are These Obstacles? Table 1 summarizes respondents’ opinions regarding the major obstacles to the adoption of online screening:

Obstacle Percentage indicating

this was an obstacle

in their organization

Technology too new 26%
HR not interested in innovation 9%
Lack of support from decision makers 19%
Legal issues 23%
Lack of knowledge about screening 31%
Lack of internal champion 22%
Too costly 25%
Complicated by internal process 19%
Difficult to integrate into hiring process 14%
Organization does not believe in screening 0%
Skepticism about the results offered by screening 34%

The responses summarized in Table 1 indicate the presence of many possible barriers to the adoption of screening. But skepticism about results offered by screening (34%) and lack of knowledge about screening within the organization (31%) seem to be the dominant obstacles. 3. Overcoming Obstacles Respondents were asked to provide their opinions on what must be done to overcome the obstacles identified. Responses to this question reflect the same general themes indicated by the data summarized in Table 1. Dealing with skepticism about the ability of online screening to deliver results seems to be the predominant need in terms of overcoming obstacles. The following quotes reinforce this conclusion:

  • “Show the cost/benefit of using it. Metrics are much needed..”
  • “Prove results to bottom line”.
  • “The number one thing that must be done in my organization is for upper management to realize the value this tool will bring…”
  • “Because they don’t see this as adding to the bottom line, they have not allowed our engineers to develop this on our corporate site…”

Overcoming the lack of knowledge about online screening was also a common theme. The following quotes reinforce this conclusion:

  • “We need to investigate options currently in the market. We have a lack of knowledge and case studies regarding the effectiveness of online screening.”
  • “Understanding what it is and how to use it effectively is the biggest obstacle.”
  • “We need to gain knowledge about how screening can fit into our process and how it can be integrated into our online application process.”
  • “Our office really does not have a clear understanding of the whole concept of online screening.”

Summary: Obstacles to the Adoption of Online Screening Overall it is clear that obstacles to the adoption of screening do exist. While respondents cite the presence of many different obstacles, most of these obstacles can be traced back to one thing: a lack of knowledge and understanding about online screening and its effectiveness. It seems clear that respondents feel that overcoming this lack of knowledge is going to take several types of information including:

  • Information about what online screening is and how it works
  • Information demonstrating that online screening is effective and can demonstrate ROI
  • Information demonstrating that online screening is acceptable to applicants and is a safe and legally sound methodology.

In light of these conclusions, I would like to suggest several inexpensive ways for companies to begin educating themselves about the benefits of online screening. These include:

  • Benchmarking studies. Make an effort to find out how other companies have used online screening to augment their online hiring process.
  • Research. There are a variety of sources of information about screening available in print and on the web.
  • Pilot studies. There is no substitute for experience. A simple localized pilot study can provide the hands-on experience and metrics needed to demonstrate the value of online screening.

Section 2: The Future In order to try and gain some perspective on where online screening is headed our survey sought to gather information about the following aspects of the future of online screening.

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  • How widespread will online screening become in the future?
  • Will one type of online screening become dominant and if so which type?
  • What is the future of the resume in the hiring process?

The following results provide a glimpse of what the future holds for online screening.

  • Ninety-four percent of respondents indicated that they feel the use of online screening will increase over the next 5 years. This percentage does not vary based on the size of the organization or the position level of the respondent.
  • Fifty-six percent of respondents whose organizations are not presently using online screening indicated that they are in the process of considering some form of online screening for the first time. When examining only the responses of decision makers, the percentage of respondents who are considering using online screening for the first time jumps to 73%. Furthermore, 92% of those not presently using online screening feel their organizations will use some form of online screening in the future.

This information clearly suggests that, despite any of the obstacles identified in the previous section, there will be an increase in the use of online screening in the future. Table 2 summarizes the types of online screening being considered by those respondents whose organizations are not currently using screening.

Screening Type Percentage of respondents considering
High level automated screening 31%
Resume screening 15%
Personality screening 0%
Screening based on fit 20%
Ability based screening 20%
Biodata 0%
Knowledge assessments 0%
Background investigations 12%
Online interviews 7.7%
Job simulations 0%
Not sure 0%

The information summarized in Table 2 suggests that the current tendency towards the use of non-scientific screening methods will continue and reveals that fewer respondents seem to be considering adopting scientific screening besides measures of fit and measures of ability. I feel that this information may reflect a general lack of knowledge regarding certain scientific screening methods such as biodata and personality screening amongst survey respondents. Figure 1 summarizes respondents’ answers to the question, “What do you think the resume’s role in the hiring process will be in five years?”

Figure 1. “What do you think the resume’s role

in the hiring process will be in five years?”

The information in Figure 1 indicates that 77% of respondents feel that the resume’s role will not be the same as it is today. However, very few felt that the resume will play little to no part in the online hiring process. Rather, the bulk of respondents seemed to feel that the content of the resume will change or that its role will be reduced in favor of new technology. Summary: The Future on Online Screening Survey results regarding the future of online screening present some interesting information:

  • Responses clearly indicate that the use of online screening will increase in the future.
  • Responses seem to indicate that non-scientific screening will continue to be the most popular type of screening.
  • While it seems there will be an increase in the use of some forms of scientific screening (i.e., ability, fit) the adoption of some other forms (i.e., biodata, personality) may not be as rapid.
  • Responses indicate that the role of the resume will definitely change in the next five years, but the exact nature of this change seems uncertain.

Survey Conclusions Overall the results of this survey are very encouraging. Most importantly, they reveal that many companies of all sizes and types are using a variety of online screening tools and that those who are using online screening like it and feel it is effective. Furthermore, results clearly indicate that the use of screening will increase in the future despite any obstacles that may exist. While there are many obstacles that may be impacting the adoption of online screening, the largest one seems to be a lack of knowledge about online screening and its ability to provide ROI by increasing both the efficiency and effectiveness of the online hiring process. This lack of knowledge is understandable given the fact that online screening is a new technology. It is clear that more real world information demonstrating the benefits of online screening to the bottom line is needed. This is especially true in the case of scientific screening, as results seem to indicate that it is currently less popular then non scientific screening. This is very unfortunate, since scientific screening offers many advantages that non-scientific screening cannot provide. It is an extremely cost effective way of adding value to the hiring process. Finally, survey results indicate that as the use of online screening increases, reliance on the resume as a key part of the online hiring process will decrease. This is very encouraging to those of us who understand the shortcomings of the resume as a predictive tool. The one recommendation I have for organizations considering the use of online screening is not to let a lack of knowledge about online screening stand between you and the rewards offered by a good screening program. A simple localized pilot study can provide hands on education about online screening as well as the proof needed to demonstrate its many benefits.

Dr. Charles Handler is a thought leader, analyst, and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space. Throughout his career Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems. 

Since 2001 Dr. Handler has served as the president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a vendor neutral consultancy dedicated to creating and driving innovation in talent assessment.  Dr. Handler has helped companies such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG, Scotia Bank, Hilton Worldwide, and Humana to design, implement, and measure impactful employee selection processes.

Through his prolific writing for media outlets such as, his work as a pre-hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte, and worldwide public speaking, Dr. Handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space. Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the talent assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation in assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies.

Dr. Handler holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana State University.