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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.

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Talent Assessment Design Features That Will Instantly Improve Your Candidate Experience

Candidate experience is a pivotal element in talent assessment design. Your candidates are likely applying for jobs at multiple employers, so if you want to stand out, you need to provide a candidate experience that is as unique as your organization is.

User needs should be prioritized over aesthetics and visual design trends. While assessments should be visually attractive — after all, they represent your brand — talent assessment design must primarily focus on ease of use. Utilizing gamification can increase responsiveness and render assessments more interesting and engaging. Technology-driven assessments should give candidates an opportunity to learn about your company and brand.

Here are some ways that talent assessment design can make recruitment painless and easy for your candidates.

Focus on User Intent, Not Visual Design Trends

“Design thinking” is a concept that’s commonly tossed around in business, but that doesn’t mean it’s always understood or implemented well.

In this context, it describes an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge our assumptions and redefine problems in pursuit of novel solutions to business problems. While user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) play a role in design thinking, they’re only part of the overall model.

This gap in application means there are still plenty of opportunities to pursue user-centric, analytically informed design in improving talent assessments.

Go Beyond ‘Looking Nice’

Design in the context of talent assessment goes much deeper than choices about colors and shapes of buttons. Trends come and go. What matters is that you build an infrastructure that’s malleable and created with intent.

The goal should be to build a tool that achieves the objective in a reliable, efficient way. It means taking advantage of the way technology now allows candidates and employers to feed data back and forth to each other in real time, to create tools that better meet the needs of both.

With assessments, this also means balancing two often contradictory aims. Generally speaking, the longer and more structured an assessment is, the more valid it is. But few candidates have the patience to endure a completely thorough assessment. They generally prefer shorter assessments, in natural settings.

Striking this balance is both an art and a science.

Gamification Makes It Interesting

Your recruitment process should be engaging, but not frivolous. Primarily you want candidates to perceive your application process as professional and fair.

You might be tempted to include “games” within the candidate assessment process. However, from the candidate perspective, games aren’t always viewed as appropriate in a high-stakes recruitment process.

Instead of including games, a smarter move is to incorporate gaming elements into your psychometric testing. This winning formula is perceived as being engaging while also delivering reliable candidate insights.

Gamification makes assessments responsive. Completing interactive challenges can unlock different levels. Candidates also receive immediate feedback, which decreases stress. Candidates should leave the assessment feeling like they’re being taken seriously by the organization.

Offer Candidates a Glimpse of the Future

Through an immersive virtual experience, candidates can get a much richer idea of what work at your organization is like, while also feeling like they can showcase their skills more realistically. Integrating an experiential simulation with a more traditional psychometric assessment provides hiring organizations with a wealth of data that can convey the experience while also balancing with more traditional assessments.

In addition, these experiences can help a candidate decide for themselves whether they would be a good fit with the organization. If they don’t get a job at your company, they’ll still have warm feelings about the experience, and by extension your brand. These engaging experiences are particularly important in industries where candidates are direct consumers, but even B2B companies should make sure their candidate experience is in alignment with their brand.

When you make your simulation as similar as possible to real-world experiences employees have at your company, candidates will come away with a deep understanding of what the work is like. Again, this experience will help them determine for themselves whether they think they could succeed as an employee.

Explain throughout the candidate's journey why you have included particular assessments or questions. Candidates expect you to know how the competencies or skills being measured affect future performance.

Remember, it’s just as important for the candidate to make their own evaluation of “fit” as it is for you.

If you want to know more about design trends in talent assessment, we recommend this white paper "How Design Thinking is Transforming the Future of Talent Assessment."

9 Building Blocks of a Great Candidate Experience

There is a renewed emphasis on getting the best candidate experience. We believe there to be 9 essential building blocks to a great candidate experience. Find out more in this article.

candidate experience

When we recently brought together a number of our clients to share the trends and the common themes that they see in their businesses right now, candidate experience rated highly.

Most of us would agree that candidate experience has always been important and yet there does seem to be a renewed focus on candidate engagement, communication and experience as well as the EVP itself.

There are two clear reasons for this.

1. A paradigm shift in hiring is taking place. Hiring has changed. The days of filtering through only the highest quality candidates from a vast applicant pool are fading fast in many key talent areas. The demand for specialist skills can outstrip applicant supply making the scales of power tip in favor of the candidate. This leads to the hiring organization needing to refine and focus more on its attraction strategy and candidate engagement strategy.

2. The increased emphasis on ‘fit’ between applicant and employer values. Employers have grasped the importance of conveying their corporate values and hiring those who align with these. This is seen in research and in our own client work.

As a result, we have defined the 9 building blocks that need to be in place to deliver a great candidate experience.

  1. Emphasize your employer brand - Invest in getting to know why employees choose your organization over a competitor. Find out what differentiates you as an employer and communicate this through your candidate journey.
  2. Showcase your commitment to diversity and inclusion - Millennials and Gen Z workers pay more attention to organizational diversity and inclusion practices, so build in statements and evidence of your approach in your candidate journey.  Make sure that you are using assessment which have been shown to be unbiased. Read how BAE Systems designed a proven assessment process which was valid, fair and robust, regardless of gender or ethnic background.
  3. Strive for transparency and fairness – Each of us wants to understand how decisions are made and the criteria used – and hiring decisions are no different. Standardized psychometric assessment really helps in this. You can explain why specific tests are used and how they relate to performance in the job. If using video assessment such as our vidAssess-AI platform, highlight how the interviews are scored and they work in practice.
  4. Educate potential applicants in the role – Get off on the right foot by making sure applicants understand the role for which they are applying. A day-in-the-life works well, but realistic job previews add greater insight. We design and develop these for many clients as they realistically showcase the job. Take a look at Try Before You Fly by easyJet. 
  5. Provide timely feedback every step of the way – Feedback can be automated at key points and if pre-hire assessments are being completed be sure to offer feedback on the results as candidates have invested time and effort into completing these. When you can, make a personal call, or provide the contact details of someone the applicant can reach if they want to learn more. Thinking about the process from the candidate perspective will make sure you think about the timing, vehicle and message of all your communications and can set you apart.
  6. Explain the process – Research has shown that explaining to candidates what is happening the hiring process leads to a positive increase in the perception of the hiring organization and the perception of fairness. You can read more in our blog article. 
  7. Make use of engaging assessments which may include gamified elements – Asking candidates to complete online assessment is commonplace and can be time-consuming. Make these as short but as robust as possible by using adaptive assessment and also look to include the more innovative assessments built specifically with a mobile device and which incorporate some gamified elements. Tools such as our smartPredict assessment range fit the bill and you can see how this is used by Proctor & Gamble 
  8. Develop strong and regular communication and see this as a meaningful exchange of information – It may not be a perspective that you have adopted before but think about what you can offer the candidate in return for completing a stage of the hiring process. Perhaps this is feedback on suitability on the role if pre-application, or explanation of the assessment results once completed. Map out the candidate touch points and work through this as if you were a candidate. Is there enough contact? What would make a stronger impression of the company? Is it clear what your employer brand? What is your process saying about your company? What feedback can you gather from applicants and at which points?
  9. Utilize technology and AI to make speedy decisions – You will want to make decisions quickly and so will your candidates. Assessment can help to focus on the best candidates and give you the extra information to need to make that decision. Strong talent is likely to be applying to a number of companies. Get them through your process quickly, engaging with them and offer the right person the job.

The renewed focus on creating a great candidate experience is one of a number of trends we are hearing about from our clients. Read about the other trends here

The Rise and Rise of Video Assessment

Our video assessment, vidAssess-AI, has just been given the Emerging Directions in Organisational Psychology award at the 2019 APS Workplace Excellence Awards in Australia. Read how our video assessment has changed the world of video interviewing.

award winning vidAssess-AI video assessment

We were delighted to learn that our video assessment, vidAssess-AI, won the Emerging Directions in Organisational Psychology award at the 2019 APS Workplace Excellence Awards in Australia.

Delighted not just because, in the words of the award giver, it recognizes our “efforts to support employee health and psychological well-being while enhancing organisational performance”, but also because it demonstrates how far applied AI has travelled and how it now is making a significant contribution to increasing objectivity in interviews.

Without a doubt, vidAssess-AI is at the forefront of video interviewing. Video interviewing platforms which simply recorded interviewees replying to questions to save travel and recruiter resource, have been superseded. Recent advancements mean that intelligent AI, built into our video interviewing platform, now scans the words spoken by interviewees in their responses and then codes or scores them in each competency area. By focusing on speech to text only, and using a natural language processing Artificial Intelligence, we eliminate human bias and ensure a legally defendable, fair and transparent process

To develop this thoroughly and reliably has taken significant investment and time; we needed to ‘teach’ the AI how to allocate what is said by the interviewees to the different competencies. The AI has ‘learned’ from HR experts, interviewers and psychologists. The result of this is an AI-based product which mimics what competency-based interviewers have been doing for years.

One thing we have taken care to ensure is that, despite the power of the AI system, we can never lose the human touch. The AI supported system does indeed highlight those candidates offering strong competency-related responses and flag those not scoring high in the competency areas, but the human recruiter is still able to override the score given by the system and decide if a candidate is taken forward or not.

vidAssess-AI is a true innovation in the market. We are setting new standards in the assessment industry, ensuring clients receive a valid and scientifically proven recruitment process, while improving efficiencies.

The important question that we are faced as we look at AI supporting HR and talent decision makers is “What should AI do?” and not “What can AI do?”


If you're interested in knowing more about how behaviors trump skills in the digital world, you can read the magazine "Future of HR" by Raconteur.

Join the cut-e Talent Forum

LinkedIn is the ‘go-to’ professional network of many HR, Recruitment and Talent decision makers – and a great way to keep informed about work-related issues, ask peers for advice, post a job and take part in relevant discussion. 

But the world of work is transforming; attracting, assessing and developing the skills employees need is changing rapidly. Our LinkedIn Talent Forum is there to share relevant articles and news, and to prompt discussion and thought as we shape and adapt talent management