Applied is a GovTech Startup looking to transform the process of recruitment. We talk to founders Kate Glazebrook and Theo Fellgett about the platform, the public sector and the future of hiring.
Why is having a recruitment system that removes bias important? What benefits does it deliver a business?
Whether we care to admit it or not, the way we interpret the world around us is shaped by implicit biases. These mental shortcuts often help us to make quick decisions in a busy world, but in the context of recruitment they can perpetuate race, gender, and socioeconomic inequality.
Applied is built to remove those biases for hiring and to make the workplace more effective by allowing organisations to hire on merit alone.
In the UK, improved gender parity in the workplace could realistically add £150bn to GDP in 2025. For a large organization, we know that top performing talent are 25x more valuable than the median employee.
And why is having the best and most equal hiring practices particularly key for the public sector?
Bar none, the public sector is the leading service provider to the UK population. It has a unique responsibility to serve every single person in our country, and often individuals beyond even this.
There is an opportunity for the UK public sector to radically shift how it operates its recruitment – and public sector leaders have put improving diversity into their personal objectives due to its a moral and operational benefits.
The knock-on effects of diversity would not only help the public sector hire the best talent and improve its services, but could stand to dramatically improve the chances for all job seekers, across the labour market.
How does Applied create a fair evaluation process for candidates?
We reshape who sees what and when to make sure candidates are selected based on talent. We do four things to the selection process to ensure fairness:
– anonymise applications – removing identifiers like name, age and gender that are proven to trigger unconscious bias.
– divide applications up by answers to skill-based questions, not by candidate, to make it easier to compare candidates and avoid ‘halo’ effects.
– use a ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach to help with scoring – seeking multiple opinions on each candidate improves accuracy.
– randomise the order applications are read – we know that if a candidate is read first, or last, that will affect the accuracy of their score.
How did you go about deciding on and designing these features of the Applied Platform?
We’re lucky to have been born from a team of world leading behavioural scientists (the Behavioural Insights Team). Core to how we design is taking what we know from decades of research into human decision making, and using the best of this information to help define our product.
This top-down approach is married with user testing, in which we are always seeking to understand and test the primary needs of our market and customers.
It’s in this intersection where users’ needs and decision-making literature collide that we get to be most creative in our design thesis.
How do you think recruitment will look in 5 or 10 years’ time?
I think we’ll laugh at the CV-based world we lived in. Looking at a CV will feel like a huge retrograde step – like going back to when we had to wait for programs to be shown at a specific time slot on the TV.
We’ll also wonder why it took so long to remove the one-way information exchange that currently pervades hiring processes. We know that candidates’ biggest issue with most recruitment processes is the total lack of feedback: we’ve all applied to a job and never heard back. At Applied we’ve taken the (apparently radical) step to remove this information asymmetry and democratise access to useful information, offering all candidates with personalised feedback on what they did well and what they could improve.
Perhaps more importantly though, 10 years ago we didn’t have iPhones, Facebook, Twitter or Uber, all technologies that are ubiquitous to how we live and work today. As a result, we have tonnes of jobs – like Social Media Manager – that would have been laughed at back then. It’s estimated that as many as 65% of kids in primary school will find themselves in jobs we don’t even know the names of.
We should always be humble about predictions, but it’s also pretty clear that in the future our traditional educational institutions will fall under enormous pressure. The old world where a (good) degree would guarantee a (good) job isn’t going to last. And in its place, I hope we’ll see more, not less, opportunity for people of all walks of life to find their own way.
To find out more about Applied, visit their website.
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