I recently interviewed Caitlin MacGregor, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Cream.HR, a company that produces a software solution that supports organizations with their recruitment and staffing needs. Cream.HR first captured my attention when it published an announcement about a potential collaboration with the Mars One mission to tackle Mars One’s flood of applications.
To meet this challenge, MacGregor explains, Cream.HR will offer the Mars One selection group a streamlined and effective process for dealing with its immense application volume. The method employed by Cream.HR remodels the hiring process by inserting an assessment tool that screens applicants from their initial online application. This online assessment allows Cream.HR to identify and immediately shortlist the best applicants for the position based on a company’s needs, values, and prerequisites.
The traditional evaluation process, argues MacGregor, can run the risk of overlooking the best possible candidates for the job. One of the challenges faced by human resources (HR) departments is accurately assessing the large volume of résumés they receive for any one position. Caitlin MacGregor asserts that résumés and letters of intent are inadequate means for assessing a candidate’s capabilities against a company’s culture.
Cream.HR hopes to address many of these concerns by screening candidates at the beginning of the hiring process, before an HR manager even reads their résumés. Cream.HR’s online survey assesses candidates for a set of personality traits that MacGregor argues top performers have in common. Moreover, their recruitment tool captures the company’s culture and further reviews candidates’ scores to psychometric tests against the peculiarities of each company.
According to Cream.HR, this screening process is supported by scientific research in the field of study known as psychometrics, which is primarily concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. Principal measurement instruments include questionnaires, tests, and personality assessments. Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, a professor at University of Toronto, whose research in the field has been peer reviewed and published, developed the assessment used by Cream.HR in its initial screening process.
In addition, Cream.HR offers a dashboard that hosts both test results and candidate profiles (including résumés, letters of intent, etc.). As a result, employers can view the best-scoring candidates and their résumé information in one place and focus on those candidates that have both the right profile and the required expertise to become high performers in a particular job.
The company claims its assessment is “fake-proof” and consequently can identify top performers by clustering candidates who have personality traits in common with top performers. This method of assessing candidates, it goes on to argue, delivers results that are six times more accurate than résumés and interviews combined. An interesting part of the personality test included in Cream.HR’s solution is that it does not employ a Likert scale. In contrast, it requires applicants to constantly prioritize their preference for the options presented to each question. Consequently, the test reveals both the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
So what are the winning personality traits that are common to most, if not all, top performers in their field? Cream.HR has adopted what, in psychology, are referred to as the Big Five personality traits. These are five broad domains that are used to describe human personality. The Big Five factors are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
The premise relies on the belief that the Big Five traits are predictors of future performance outcomes. Therefore, the larger the number of correlated traits found in the applicant, the higher the likelihood of success in the workplace. While there has been some criticism on correlating personality characteristics and job performance, recent work in the field of psychometrics points to a respectable number of correlations between personality traits and job performance. And considering that the economic value of even low prediction accuracy is so great, this finding is significant.
However, the success of this approach relies equally on the accurate assessment of company culture and needs at a given point in time. Let’s be clear, a candidate may possess all the personality traits but may lack the characteristics that make him or her the perfect fit for an individual company or team within that company. This is one of the variables that is critical to the successful completion of the process.
Cream.HR does help its clients with identifying the traits that define a company’s culture. A case in point would be a company that does not have strict supervision of working hours, in which case an essential trait of aspiring candidates would be integrity.
So how would those 202,586 applicants for the Mars One project fare if they all completed the Cream.HR assessment? This data would be gathered and analyzed by Cream.HR (using a proprietary algorithm) and would result in a much-shortened list of candidates with the greatest number of predictors for success. In other words, Cream.HR is not assessing a candidate’s background knowledge or history or school records but rather seeks to predict the candidate’s job performance, estimated by the presence or absence of crucial personality traits. In the case of the Mars One project, the essential culture requirements may be placing trust in others and resilience.