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The three ways neuroscience innovation can help you make better hiring decisions

Jack Allen, content marketing executive at Arctic Shores

The relationship between neuroscience and the world of talent acquisition is, like most relationships, complicated. That’s for two intertwined reasons: trust, and expectation:

  1. Some in talent acquisition believe that neuroscience’s application to the real world (i.e. the world beyond the laboratories), is limited. Of course, there’s a chasm between these labs and the cut-and-thrust of your workplace. This can limit trust in its relevance as a solution.
  2. Simultaneously, though, many others see it as a cure-all for their various hiring challenges. A bit like AI, it’s another ‘progressive’ solution that can inspire (unrealistic) optimism. Expectations can settle in the clouds.

So, there’s a strange mix of misunderstanding and hope. Through this haze, it can be difficult for anyone to arrive at an answer to the question: what can neuroscience do for me? 

Let’s answer that question here.

Refining your data

Data can’t be the ‘new oil’, as it’s often described. That’s because, unlike oil, it’s often priceless. This is definitely true in talent acquisition, where an accurate understanding of candidates’ abilities is vital.

Neuroscience’s core value lies in providing those in talent acquisition with richer, more accurate and reliable data on candidates. This inevitably saves you both time and money, by supporting more predictive hiring. There are three ways neuroscience is impacting how we measure candidates:

Improving understanding of existing psychological constructs

While neuroscience may be new ground for many, certain aspects of psychology are more familiar for those in talent acquisition. Specifically, many of you will know about psychological constructs, and factor these into your assessment strategy.

Neuroscience is able to identify clear, meaningful links between brain activity on the one hand, and well-known psychological constructs like learning agility, resilience and motivation on the other. Therefore, innovations in neuroscience can help those in talent acquisition measure these constructs in new ways, often faster and more effectively, with less initial training required. Certain innovations, such as the combination of neuroscientific tests with game-like interfaces, can feasibly provide richer data while also mitigating candidates’ test anxiety and hiring bias. A win-win-win!

Accurately measuring the ‘new but known’

There are various known constructs that, if we could only test for them effectively, would help us to hire in a more predictive way. Yet, at present, such constructs can remain inaccessible to most of us. 

One example is self-awareness. This would be a useful construct to help identify suitable candidates, especially from a cultural perspective. But, at present, it’s near-impossible to gauge from self-reported tests. While it can be theoretically identified through peer feedback, this is of course a far longer process than is desirable (especially if you’re hiring thousands of people a year!).  

Neuroscientific innovations can help here. By creating new ways to measure candidates, they’re already unlocking constructs that had once been discarded despite their potential value. Again, these can help you better predict the right hires for your organisation.

Identifying the next predictors

The third impact neuroscience can have on your hiring strategy is to identify entirely new constructs. While this may be one for the future, and so perhaps not as immediately applicable as the two instances above, these have perhaps the greatest potential to disrupt how you go about identifying the right candidates for you.

A recent example is so-called synchrony, a construct used to describe the individual’s own performance within a team. With teamwork now a prerequisite for most roles, the ability to accurately measure this would allow hiring to become more predictive and efficient.

Neuroscience at a glance

This is, of course, just a brief sketch of neuroscience’s potential impact. We appreciate you may still have questions left unanswered by this post! That’s why we’ve co-authored a paper on neuroscience innovation, in partnership with organisational consultancy Korn Ferry. The paper takes a more detailed look at neuroscience’s applications for candidate testing and measurement, the obstacles it faces, and the muddying effect of the ‘marketing sizzle’ that surrounds the field. 

You can download the full paper, or a shorter executive summary, here.

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