Twenty Questions about Online Screening: The Results

Last month I asked readers to complete a survey aimed at gathering information needed on the adoption and use of online screening. My survey sought to examine trends in three specific areas: 1) the current state of use for online screening, 2) the identification of obstacles to the adoption of online screening, and 3) the future of online screening. First of all, I want to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey. I received enough completed surveys to provide some meaningful results. In fact, I got so much good information that I decided to split up my findings into two articles. This article is the first installment and provides details about the characteristics of my sample as well as some interesting findings about the current usage of online screening by respondents’ organizations. Sample Limitations Before I begin discussing my findings, I think it is important for me to bring up the fact that the conclusions reported in this article may have been influenced by several characteristics of my sample:

  1. Those persons who are presently using screening may have been much more likely to take the time to complete the survey because they have made an investment in screening technology.
  2. ERE readers represent a population that is likely to be much more technology-minded than persons in similar positions who do not read ERE. This means that responding ERE readers may be more likely to be using technologically advanced methods such as online screening.
  3. ERE readers are busy folks with lots going on so I had to keep my survey short. Because I limited myself to 20 questions, it was not possible for me to drill too deeply into any one particular issue.

Despite the possible sampling limitations, the results of this survey offer a lot of meaningful information that have allowed me to identify some interesting trends in the use of online screening technology. The Sample A total of 65 readers completed the survey. Of these, 60 respondents were from the U.S., three were from New Zealand, one was from the UK, and one was from Australia. This section provides some details about these respondents. The information in Figure 1 represents the relative percentages of each job title held by survey respondents.

Figure 1. Job Title

Recruiter was the most common job title, accounting for about 39% of the total sample. The next most common title was HR/Staffing executive, accounting for about 14% of the total sample. Most of the other respondents were spread fairly evenly about the other seven job titles, each accounting for close to 10% of the total sample. For the purposes of examining more detailed trends in my data, I broke the sample based on the level of responsibility associated with job titles. This breakdown revealed that 36% of the sample was managerial level or above while 42% were non-managerial level. The remaining 22% of respondents could not be coded due to a lack of information about the level of responsibility associated with their position. Figure 2 provides details about the size of survey respondents? companies.

Figure 2. Company Size

The information in Figure 2 indicates that 40% of respondents were employees of large companies (over 5,000 employees). The remaining respondents were fairly evenly split amongst small, medium, and medium/large size organizations. The sample was relatively balanced in terms of the size of respondents’ companies. The fact that almost half of respondents are recruiters is complimented by the fact that about half of the sample hold managerial or executive-level positions. This suggests that the sample provides a good balance between respondents who are actually using online hiring technology on a daily basis and those who are making decisions about implementing such technology. Overall, the balance reflected in this sample means that the data represent an excellent cross-section of people who are likely to be using online screening. This suggests that the data summarized here offer excellent insight into high-level trends in the use of online screening technology. Current Usage of Online Screening The questions about current usage of online screening were designed to gather the information needed to answer the following general questions:

  • What is the present usage rate for online screening?
  • What are the characteristics of this usage (i.e., what type of screening is most popular, for what jobs is screening most commonly used)?
  • Do those persons using online screening feel it is effective?

The data summarized in this section provides some interesting answers to these questions. Overall, 65% of respondents indicated that they are currently using some form of online screening. While this figure is encouraging, it becomes much more meaningful when viewed in conjunction with a more in-depth investigation of the usage rates for various types of online screening. Table 1 provides a summary of the current usage rates for various types of online screening. Table 1: Usage Rates by Screening Type

Note: All percentages are based on population using screening (n=42)

Screening Type % currently using
High Level Automated Screening 64%
Automated Resume Screening 21%
Personality Screening 21%
Screening Based on “Fit” 29%
Ability Screening (i.e., verbal ability,

quantitative ability, etc.)

Biographical History Screening

(i.e., “Biodata”)

Knowledge Assessments (Brainbench,

Article Continues Below

TeckCheck, etc.)

Background Investigation 31%
Online Interviews 19%
Job Simulations 10%

Non-Scientific Screening The results in Table 1 indicate that 83% of those using screening are using at least one form of non-scientific screening (for the purpose of this survey non-scientific screening is defined as high-level automated screening, automated resume screening, background investigations, and knowledge assessments). High-level automated screening (64%) was the most popular of the 10 types of screening included in this survey. Other popular non-scientific methods included automated resume screening (21%) and background investigations (31%). Interestingly enough, despite the fact that a large number of respondents are using high-level screening tools, results indicate that just 33% of respondents are currently using only these types of tools. This suggests that the majority of respondents are using more than one type of screening; however, there appears to be no real pattern in terms of the additional types of screening being used. Scientific Screening Amongst those using screening, 55% use some form of scientific screening. Survey data did not suggest that there is one clear favorite type of scientific screening. Usage rates for the three most popular types of scientific screening?? personality screening (21%), screening based on fit (29%), and screening based on ability (26%)?? were similar. The data indicates that 17% of respondents used only scientific screening with no additional non-scientific screening. The data also reveals that just 10% of those using scientific screening used only one type of scientific screening. These results show that scientific screening is most often used as a compliment to non-scientific screening tools, and that whenever scientific screening is used it is common to use more than one type. Overall these results show that non-scientific screening is the most popular type of screening and accounts for the majority of instances where screening is used. This makes sense, as this type of screening is less complex, has less legal gray area surrounding its use, provides a lot of bang for the buck through its ability to weed out candidates who are clearly unqualified, and is often offered as part of the functionality provided by ATS systems. One of the most interesting findings is the fact that almost everyone who uses screening uses more than one type. It seems very common for one company to use both scientific and non-scientific screening methods with the most popular screening configuration being the combination of high level automated screening with some form of scientific screening. Beyond this finding there seems to be no real pattern to the specific types of screening that are combined. There is no one combination of screening types that appeared significantly more often than any others. Job Types Table 2 provides information about the use of screening based on position level. Table 2: Screening Usage by Position Level

Position Level % of Respondents Using
Entry Level 81%
Lower Level Management 69%
Middle Management 71%
High Level Management 60%
Executive Level 41%

Table 3 provides information about the types of jobs for which screening is used. Table 3: Screening Usage by Position Type

Job Type % of Respondents Using
Customer Service 67%
Manufacturing/Labor 31%
Account Management 50%
Call Center 52%
Managerial/Supervisory 64%
Administrative 60%
IT 55%
Retail 17%
Sales 48%
Professional 60%

The information in Table 3 indicates that screening seems to be used for a wide variety of positions. The only job types for which screening does not seem to be used very often is manufacturing/labor and retail. These results demonstrate that screening is not limited to one specific type of job, but rather is a useful tool for helping to select persons for almost any job. Importance of the Resume Figure 3 provides some information about respondents’ opinions regarding the importance of the resume in their hiring process.

Figure 2. Importance of Resume

The information in Figure 3 indicates that about 60% of respondents felt that resumes were either an “extremely important” or “very important” part of their online hiring process. These results certainly indicate a reliance on resumes as a tool for making hiring decisions. These results get much more interesting when one compares responses regarding the importance of the resume from those using online screening to responses from those who are not using online screening. Table 4 summarizes the results of this comparison. Table 4: Resume Importance by Screening Usage

Screening Users Non-Screening Users
Extremely Important 21% 61%
Very Important 33% 28%
Somewhat Important 33% 6%
Not Important 12% 6%

Metrics Only 45% of respondents using screening indicated that they have been able to collect metrics to help demonstrate the effectiveness of online screening. While this number may seem low, none of the respondents who are not using online screening indicated that they collect any metrics about the effectiveness of their online hiring process. These results support the fact that online screening helps provide users with the capabilities needed to collect metrics about various parts of the hiring process. The following comments by people who are currently collecting metrics on the performance of their online screening systems seem to indicate the value of this capability:

  • “We have seen reduced turnover, increased teamwork, and higher productivity.”
  • “We have seen improvements in candidate quality, cycle time and cost per hire.”
  • “In-house study showed that higher scores correlated with those hires that have performed better in jobs.”
  • “…Better than 85% accuracy regarding job performance and retention. Candidate acquisition costs are minimal compared to traditional methods”

I feel that the ability of online screening systems to provide metrics is one of its most important benefits. Traditionally it has been very difficult to place a value on the contributions of humans to the bottom line. The ability of online screening systems to provide metrics will help users provide the concrete proof needed to convince decisions makers of the value added by online screening and will result in an overall increase in the use of online screening. A total of 88% of those using screening indicate that online screening has made a difference in their organization. I think that this figure speaks for itself. Conclusions

  • Companies are using online screening. A large percentage of respondents (65%) are currently using online screening. It is difficult to say if this number is reflective of the general population due to the fact that screening users were probably more likely to respond to my survey. Still this number is encouraging and shows that companies really are using online screening.
  • 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; however, there is no trend in the combination of types used. This reinforces the wide variety of online screening choices available and demonstrates that companies are able to choose from the available types of screening in order to construct screening systems that meet their specific needs. The fact that there were no differences in the use of screening based on the size of an organization or the jobs for which screening is used also reinforces the flexibility of online screening, demonstrating that it is useful for a wide variety of jobs in organizations of all sizes.
  • Online screening works. Those who use online screening are less reliant on poor sources of candidate information such as the resume. Not only does screening provide tools needed to predict which applicants are best suited for a job, it also provides users with tools that can be used to collect metrics regarding the performance of their hiring processes. Most importantly, those who are using online screening feel it is an effective tool that is making a significant contribution to their organization.

Stay tuned! In Part 2 of this series I will discuss survey results for obstacles to the adoption of screening as well as those related to the future usage of online screening.

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.