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'Digital Disruption'

A look at how digital technologies are transforming HR and talent acquisition for organizations of all sizes. 

Monday, July 21, 2014
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Whether due to increased efficiency, reduced cost, or better and fairer hiring decisions, organizations are seeing the benefits of modern, digital approaches to assessment and interviewing.

I got an up-close-and-personal look at this when I attended solution provider HireVue's recent "Digital Disruption" user conference, a showcase for how several leading organizations are deploying innovative talent-acquisition-technology solutions to transform, streamline and improve talent-acquisition processes. (HireVue will be a co-presenting company -- along with its customer, Under Armour -- at HRE's upcoming HR Technology ® Conference in October.)

Based on what I heard at the user conference, I'd like to share some of the ways forward-thinking organizations are leveraging modern tools that are leading to better outcomes.

Red Sox Recruitment

For the Boston Red Sox, digital technology has increased efficiency and has enabled an improved candidate experience.

Mike Danubio, director of HR for the defending World Series champions, was facing a challenge: how to hire more than 600 game-day staff members in a manner that was efficient, fair, candidate-friendly and would result in the organization finding the "right" people who could be counted on to deliver a fantastic customer experience to the team's fans.

With such a famous and powerful brand in the Boston community, the Red Sox's problem was never going to be one of having too few candidates for their open positions; rather, it was typically faced with an overabundance of applicants for these game-day roles.

Traditionally, in late winter, the team would hold an on-site job fair/recruiting day, where literally thousands of applicants would come to Fenway Park to apply in person for one of the game-day jobs. As can be imagined, conducting a fair, timely and candidate-friendly process in these kinds of circumstances was especially difficult. Frequently heard complaints from candidates were that the event felt too much like an impersonal "cattle call" and they were often not provided enough time to try and make their individual cases for their candidacies, due to the high volumes of applicants. Team staff and, most importantly, departmental hiring managers also felt their time was not being used effectively, as they were required to devote an entire work day to the event.

The introduction of a modern, digital approach to candidate assessment and interviewing was introduced by Danubio in order to improve the process and address the many shortcomings of the large, impersonal, on-site hiring-day approach. The Red Sox set up an "on-demand," virtual, video-based interview process for prospective candidates to complete, prior to having them come in to the team's offices for in-person interviews. This process had the additional benefit of being open and available to candidates 24/7; including over the holiday break period at the end of the calendar year when the Red Sox offices were closed.

In the past, the Red Sox HR and recruiting staff would have to begin the new year at square one in the recruiting process for game-day staff; now, with the availability of the digital technology, HR and hiring managers would start the screening process much earlier, and would be better able to manage and allocate their time for these tasks accordingly.

Only after reviewing these video interviews would select candidates be invited to proceed to the next step in the process. This created a much more efficient flow and enabled the Red Sox to better identify candidates who were likely to possess the customer-service skills that are so important for success.

Candidates for these roles seemed to like the digital approach as well, according to Danubio. About 80 percent of candidates rated their overall application process as satisfactory or better, a significant improvement from years past and prior to the introduction of digital-recruiting technology. Hiring managers also appreciated the process improvements that enabled them to make better use of their time in the busy pre-season, and helped them get a better feel for candidates on a more personal level.

Caesar's Time-Saver

A similar case study -- but with some important differences in details -- was presented at Digital Disruption by representatives from Aon Hewitt, a HireVue partner, highlighting its work supporting the hiring needs for a new Caesar's Resorts casino in Cincinnati.

The challenge for the recruiting team was a tough one: Start from scratch and find, attract, screen, interview and ultimately hire for approximately 700 casino positions in only five weeks. But the tight time frame and operational challenges of such a high-volume hiring process did not mean that Caesar's was willing to make sacrifices or take short-cuts that would adversely impact candidate experience and applicant quality, or lead to simply filling the open roles just to have them filled in time.

Similar to Red Sox recruiters, Caesar's talent-acquisition leaders knew technology was going to be a key and necessary element in order to meet these aggressive goals and the business' operational objectives. They turned to digital-interviewing technology from HireVue (and worked with their project-implementation partners from Aon Hewitt) to establish a process whereby the eventual 5,500-plus applicants could self-schedule their own initial video interviews, which would later be evaluated on-demand by the hiring teams.

This process allowed Caesar's to effectively manage such a high volume in an extremely short period of time. From this group, approximately 1,800 candidates were then invited to the facility in person for the next and subsequent rounds of screening and in-person interviewing.

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Ultimately, 700 people were hired and began the employee-training program that would eventually lead to full-time employment.

Most notable in this story was that, several months prior, Caesar's had undergone the same high-volume short-timeline hiring process for a similar facility in Cleveland. When comparing data from the application, interviewing and hiring results between the two approaches -- Cleveland's, which used no advanced technologies, and Cincinnati's, which leveraged digital technologies -- there were some interesting results.

At the Cincinnati facility, the ratio of in-person interviews to hires was 2.6/1, compared to about 10/1 in the traditional process used in Cleveland. Additionally, after six months in operation, attrition at the Cincinnati location was only 4 percent; whereas, after six months, the Cleveland facility experienced 25 percent attrition (which is more in line with industry standards).

Finally, after 12 months, attrition at the Cincinnati casino was only 14 percent -- still quite low by historical standards -- and 94 percent of the employees who were hired using the digitally enhanced process had achieved satisfactory or better-than-satisfactory performance ratings.

This type of before/after comparison, with associated metrics, is often hard to come by when attempting to justify and evaluate the effectiveness, cost savings and business impact of HR technology initiatives. But in the Caesar's example, the data clearly show the multiple benefits that can be ascribed to the implementation of HR technology.

At the HR Technology ® Conference in October, you will see and hear many similar case studies demonstrating the impact of HR technology in helping organizations meet their own unique business challenges, including more on digital technologies that are improving the hiring process and allowing organizations to find, engage, assess and select the right talent to meet their needs.

Steve Boese is a co-chair of HRE's HR Technology ® Conference and a technology editor for HRE. He can be emailed at Questions and comments about this story can also be sent to

For more information on the 17th Annual HR Technology ® Conference and Expo, to be held Oct. 7 through 10 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Conference Center in Las Vegas, visit

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