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Contact centres: how to recruit and retain high performing agents

Five steps to help contact centres to identify, select and retain talented agents are available in a new insight guide from cut-e.

Called ‘Recruiting special agents’, the guide provides best practice advice to help contact centre recruiters to hire the right people, differentiate their employer brand, engage candidates and improve the efficiency of their selection process.

“Many people who apply for agent positions in contact centres are unsuited to the job,” said Andreas Lohff of cut-e. “This guide explains how to attract, recruit and retain ‘right fit’ agents and how you can save time and resources in recruitment.”

The guide outlines how technology can optimise the selection process and cut the time-to-hire. “Integrating systems such as your Applicant Tracking System and HR Information System can create efficiencies,” said Andreas Lohff. “It also enables you to mine and utilise employee data in ways that weren’t possible before. This opens the door to a wealth of new talent analytics that can further improve your recruitment, increase sales and help you to avoid the disruption of hiring the wrong people.”

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Be aware of "black box" problems when using AI for recruiting

The Student Employer - 31st October 2018,

Using artificial Intelligence (AI) for recruiting can enhance your candidate selection process, but beware of ‘black box’ algorithms that can lead to recruitment decisions that you can’t defend. Richard Justenhoven explains the two types of AI system and how it can be used effectively in assessment.

A Guide to AI

Global Recruiter - 22nd October 2018,

Richard Justenhoven gives four key guidelines to using AI in recruitment.

The goal of any recruitment process is to identify the right person for the job. The closer you match the individual to the requirements of the role, the more effective that person will be. You don’t need Artificial Intelligence to achieve this. But AI will help you do it quicker and more efficiently.

Recruiting safe commercial drivers

HRHQ - 22nd October 2018, Ireland

Commercial drivers - whether they drive a train, lorry, bus, ferry, delivery van or a forklift - are responsible for the safety of their passengers or cargo, and their vehicles. If you recruit drivers, you’ll undoubtedly check whether job candidates have the necessary driving skills and the required licences or certificates. You may even conduct medical and eyesight checks. But, can you be confident those individuals will drive safely?

Suzanne Courtney: How to attract and select great graduates

HR review - 5th October 2018, UK

In the face of fierce competition to find the right talent, today’s graduate recruiters are striving to make their assessment and selection processes shorter, more focused and more engaging. Here are five essential tips to help you to stand out from the crowd:

The essential competencies for digital transformation

HRHQ - 10th September 2018, Ireland

To survive in the digital future, organisations need a fluid structure, an agile culture and employees who are ‘digitally-ready’ to cope with rapidly changing circumstances. Digital readiness is not about being proficient with technology - it’s not about whether you can use Excel or mobile devices - and it is not related to age. Every employee now needs the ability to perform tasks, manage information, share knowledge and work with others in a digital context.

cut-e scienceBlog

Seven Steps to Minimize Adverse Impact

Building a diverse workforce creates tangible business value and competitive advantage. Every applicant should have an equal chance to do their best in your selection process. However, we all have different skills,  values and preferences. This means that some degree of adverse impact will inevitably exist in every recruitment process. The key is to structure your process to minimize adverse impact. Only then can you match the right people to the right roles, for the right reasons. 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Conduct a Thorough Job Analysis

Ensuring the criteria used to select candidates is directly related to job performance is critical to minimizing adverse impact. If you’re not very clear about the qualities you require, unconscious bias will creep into your selection process and a high level of adverse impact can occur.

2. Undertake a Validation Study

Analyse the results of your current recruitment practice to identify the level of adverse impact. Are you recruiting a diverse mix of candidates or are your candidates predominantly from one group? A validation study provides data and evidence that will help you evaluate the effectiveness and fairness of your selection process. 

3. Use Valid and Defensible Assessments

Psychometric tests help reduce adverse impact because they’re objective. However, different people will always perform differently in any test. For example, younger people tend to perform better in concentration tests than older people; men tend to perform better than women in numerical reasoning tests; women tend to perform better in verbal reasoning tests. So, assessments have certain biases. It isn’t possible to do anything about this. The answer is to combine different job-related tests to minimize bias and adverse impact. For example, combining numerical and verbal reasoning tests will help counteract gender bias.

4. Ensure Your Testing Process is Consistently Fair

This means that groups of test takers should not be advantaged or disadvantaged in their access to your assessments. They should also receive exactly the same testing experience, no matter what device they use to take your tests. Every aspect of your selection process must be consistently fair and dependable for every candidate.

5. Broaden Your Recruitment Strategy to Include Different Groups

Every employer needs to reach out to different audiences and encourage individuals with different experiences and different backgrounds to apply. Don’t restrict your hiring to certain universities and ensure your job  advertisements and promotions don’t contain images or descriptions that might alienate potential applicant groups.

6. Standardize Your Job Interviews and Assessment Centers

It is human nature to like people who are similar to us; however this can lead to unconscious bias and adverse impact in recruitment. To overcome this, hiring managers (and assessors in assessment centers) should be trained in equal opportunities, diversity, employment law, interview skills and avoiding unconscious bias. Interviewers should ask structured, competency-based questions that probe for the desired attitudes and behaviors.

7. Constantly Seek Improvement

You can monitor the level of adverse impact in your organization with the ‘four-fifths rule’. This states that the success rate for members of any particular group – such as males, females or ethnic groups – should not be less than 80 percent of any other group’s success rate. Check your selection process at each stage, to confirm that a diverse mix of candidates is progressing, and aim to continuously improve the fairness of your hiring.

Minimizing adverse impact, through these seven steps, will provide three clear advantages. First, it will help you recruit the right people for each role – those who have the job-related competencies that you have identified as important to success in your organization and in the role. Second, bringing equality and inclusion into your recruitment process will enhance your employer brand and broaden your appeal to a diverse range of applicants, who could potentially improve the performance of your organization. Finally, creating a valid and justifiable selection process, with documented evidence at each stage, will help to protect your organization against lawsuits and discrimination claims.

To learn more about how you can increase diversity and minimize adverse impact in your hiring process download our white paper, Encouraging Diversity Through Fairness in Assessment or visit our website.

How to Choose the Right Talent Assessment Vendor

Selecting the right talent assessment vendor for your organization has become a complicated endeavor. The landscape of providers increases every day, and there are numerous factors to consider when making a decision for your organization.

Advancements in technology include new measurement models, gamification and mobile first assessments. These advances coupled with the huge increase in applicants for each available position and advancements in the science of IO Psychology and psychometrics have resulted in a proliferation of talent assessment providers. Cutting through the noise to identify the best choice for your organization’s needs can be challenging.

Start by evaluating assessment providers in the larger context of your business’ goals. A great assessment is distinguished from good assessment by the quality of the results and proven impact on the business.

Here are three key areas to consider as you evaluate assessment providers.


Efficiency refers to the ability to streamline the process and make it a seamless experience for everyone who will use it.

When you dig into the system efficiencies, carefully consider:
  • Technical Integration.
  • IT resilience.
  • Global reach – Is the system scalable to various regions?
  • GDPR/data protection.
  • Cost of assessment and the benefits to the business.
  • Reporting – Are the reports understandable for recruiters and hiring managers?


Organizations need to evaluate the strength of the assessments and their ability to predict success and drive business results. Effectiveness can be a murky area; assessments must be built on a solid scientific foundation.

The factors to evaluate effectiveness include:
  • Robust psychometrics: validity and reliability, reporting, metrics. Does the system measure what it’s supposed to and make an impact to help achieve business goals?
  • What is the evidence of validity? Is there data to back up the claims? Make sure you ask for and understand the data in the technical report.
  • Shiny vs. functional vs. usability: Be careful of all flash and no substance.
  • Is the vendor investing in development and improvement?
  • Evidence of business impact: Assessments should be an investment that more than makes up for the cost with increased productivity.


What is the experience like with the vendor? Does it reflect well on your brand, make the process better and smoother for your candidates, hiring managers and recruiters?

When evaluating assessment vendors on experience you should look for ways they contribute to a positive experience for candidates, hiring managers, talent professionals and business leaders.

Questions to consider about the experience are:
  • Do the assessments reflect well on our brand?
  • Candidate experience: Is there a give and take between candidates and companies, where candidates feel like they walk away with valuable insight and info?
  • What is the customer service experience like?

Choosing a talent assessment provider has become more challenging. Talent professionals need ways to simplify this process, and you can start with the three areas of efficiency, effectiveness and experience. These help companies evaluate talent assessment vendors from the context of your business’ goals. The goal should be high-quality results and a proven impact on the business.

For more information about what to look for when selecting the right talent assessment provider for your organization, read our white paper, How to Choose a Valuable and Robust Psychometric Tool.


Our pick of the research presented at GWPs 2019

We are delighted to have just returned from the 23rd GWPs Congress of IO psychologists in Germany.

As ever, the event was packed with insightful scientific discussion within various application areas of IO psychology. Perhaps one of the most exciting and noticeable changes from previous years was that this year saw many more students attending - and presenting. Whilst their studies may have been constrained by research design and sample size, their innovative and unusual choice of topic showed that the next generation of psychologists coming through is keen, inquisitive and thought- provoking.

One example of this innovation in approach was vom Lehn’s research on the relationship between personality and location data captured from smart phones. For this study, 31 participants installed a native app on their mobile phones that captured their location for four weeks. Whilst the results were quite intuitive but not significant (those who are highly conscientious and extraverted visit sports facilities more often), this study showed the powerful and intriguing usage of today’s possibilities in data capturing.

In another presentation, Höfling and Frohl explored the validity of Automated Facial Coding (AFC). This is the automated identification of emotions based on video data. They checked the AFC software against EMG-based (Electromyography – used to evaluate muscle activity) measurement. They found that when the participants were instructed to very clearly show either a sad or a happy face, the EMG could recognise the expression correctly - and equally. However, the AFC was significantly better at detecting happy faces than the EMG was while being equally good at detecting sad faces. However, when participants were instructed to show no emotion (a poker face), the accuracy of the AFC dropped greatly, while the EMG was still able to differentiate. Which leads to my personal take away: My phone camera cannot read my emotions (yet).

I was delighted to see the reaction to Katharina Lochner’s presentation on gamification in assessment - it was almost standing room only! Katharina presented the results of a qualitative interview study that she and I conducted last year on the different kinds of gamification in the assessment context. We compared simulations and gamified assessments – finding that certain characteristics of both options provokes opposite reactions, respectively.  For example, we found that simulations were seen as impersonal - even though they used avatars – but the relevance to the job was much clearer than for gamified cognitive assessments. Both types of gamification were seen as innovative tools that would make a selection process more attractive, especially for younger aged applicants or applicants within the IT or creative sectors.

The final keynote given by Gerd Gigerenzer was intriguing. While his keynote focused on decision-making in uncertain contexts, he presented certain heuristics that people use to simplify their choices. He presented research that showed that the decisions made based on a single variable were often more successful than decisions that were based on a complex model with multiple variables. This sounded impressive – until my colleague pointed out that the crucial first step is to decide on the correct variable on which to base your decision – something that, unfortunately, Gerd did not offer any insight.

However, the decision whether or not to be at the next GWPs Congress is quite easy. We shall see each other in Stuttgart 2020!

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