Skills-based hiring has become an increasingly popular recruitment strategy. The concept, which places skills and competencies at the heart of hiring decisions, has gained significant traction due to its potential to identify top talent and predict employee performance.
In a recent blog post we explained what skills-based hiring is, and some of the core benefits of this approach to recruitment. But how do you actually translate the concept of skills-based hiring into real life? In this blog post, we outline some of the actionable steps you can take to start building a skills-based hiring process.
How to Conduct Skills-Based Hiring
At its core, a skills-based hiring process accomplishes three things: it identifies the job-relevant skills that a candidate needs; it expands the candidate pipeline to include people who may have been overlooked based on the resume alone; and it evaluates those job-relevant skills in a highly predictive, objective, and validated way. Below are three core steps to achieving these goals.
1. Conduct a skills-gap analysis
To maximize the impact of skills-based hiring, you should first focus on the initial stages of the candidate journey. This is where the unintentional exclusion of candidates happens most often, leading employers to inadvertently shrink their talent pool instead of expanding it. The goal here is to open up your criteria so you're screening people in, not out. That’s where a solid skills-gap analysis comes into play.
A skills gap is essentially the space between what employers desire in terms of skills, and what their existing workforce brings to the table. Delving into this gap, a skills-gap analysis highlights the skills and competencies currently held by employees against the essential skills required to succeed in their respective roles within an organization. In practice, this process entails evaluating the present skillset of the workforce, understanding the skills vital for reaching organizational goals, and discerning any mismatches or gaps that emerge.
When the focus shifts to hiring, this analysis becomes a guiding light. It aids in pinpointing the critical skills required for success in the role you’re hiring for. Which takes us to the next step.
2. Create a job description that clearly highlights essential skills
After identifying the job-relevant skills, it’s time to craft a job posting and description that highlights the essential skills and competencies required. Instead of fixating on specific credentials, center your attention on the desired outcomes you aim to achieve. Think about the technical skills, soft skills, and knowledge areas pivotal for the role. When it comes to listing these job-relevant skills, embrace a minimalistic approach. By splitting the “must-haves” from the “nice-to-haves,” you can effectively distill the list of genuinely job-relevant skills.
If a degree isn’t a prerequisite for the role, it's a smart move to eliminate it from the job description. Take into account that a substantial 54% of US adults don't possess a college degree. So, if a degree manages to sneak its way into the job description when it's not a necessity, you're essentially excluding half of the potential candidates. Remove unwarranted degrees or experience requirements to significantly expand your talent pool.
3. Build a selection process that is highly predictive
With your job requirements now more relevant and inclusive, the next stage involves evaluating candidates’ skills and potential. The goal is to evaluate these skills in the most predictive, objective way possible.
This is where assessments and structured interviewing come in. Assessments provide tangible and objective evidence of a candidate’s proficiency with a certain skill or ability. They uncover not just technical skills, but also delve into areas such as emotional intelligence, cognitive aptitude, and behavioral competencies.
Structured interviews, on the other hand, offer a highly predictive way for interviewers to confirm that candidates have the necessary skills. In fact, structured interviews are the single best predictor of job performance, two-times more predictive than unstructured interviews. Structured interviews ask candidates behavioral and scenario-based questions, enabling you to unearth any gaps in their skillset or knowledge that are pivotal for excelling in the role.
The focus through this process should remain on skills and embracing assessments that effectively gauge them. This approach ensures that the selection process is anchored in a robust skills evaluation, offering a strong predictor of overall job performance.
The combination of both assessments and structured interviewing leads to a strong, evidence-based decision-making process that’s not just informative but also highly predictive, increasing the odds of pinpointing the best candidate for the role.
Adopting a skills-based hiring approach can take some upfront effort, but once you implement the above steps, your organization will be more empowered to identify candidates who can contribute meaningfully in the long run. By focusing on a candidate's practical skills and competencies, you can build stronger, more productive teams.