Commentators on “social recruitment” (using social media technology to recruit) are tipping 2013 as a hot year for recruitment technology and HR tech companies are pushing a mindboggling range of products out into the market.  We are not (yet) aware of any Employment Tribunal claims arising from the use of social recruiting methods but if the rules of engagement between companies and candidates are genuinely undergoing the fundamental shift which the hype around some of the new technology would have us believe, it is surely only a matter of time.

With LinkedIn membership hitting the 200 million mark worldwide, the sheer volume of candidate information out there means that recruiters are at risk of drowning in a sea of data.  Relationships (virtual or otherwise) are key to maximising the effectiveness of engaging with the best candidates and pure data is not a relationship.

LinkedIn published its “Top 12 for 2012” last month.  One of its top 12 is itself a digital hiring platform company, Hire Vue. Despite having only 632 connections at the time, it was lauded for allowing an organisation to “showcase its brand and connect with their target audience in a meaningful way”.  Hire Vue’s website advises that its subscribers benefit from:  an awesome new way to interview — on demand! You can interview the candidates you want whenever you want — just like streaming your favorite movie.”   

Some might say that the job interview experience should not be on a par with  Cineworld – a little less popcorn, a little more sober, competency-based assessment, perhaps reflecting the importance of the transaction for both parties.   That gripe aside, what does a virtual introduction to a candidate at early stages in the interview process add to the quality of the hire?   Hire Vue says that its technology enhances the robustness of a selection process by enabling companies to ask the same set of questions of different candidates and so ensure a consistent evaluation of their responses, with the ability to replay answers you might have missed the first time around.   Could that not be achieved just as easily by requesting written (electronic, that is) submissions or even just by listening properly at an interview?  What does the video add to the process other than an opportunity to see what the candidate looks like, so enabling the assessor to make choices (consciously or otherwise) based on the candidates’ physical appearance and related factors such as (yes, you guessed it) gender, race, or apparent age or disability.

Undoubtedly, the ability to share video interviews and for recruiters to tune in “anytime, anywhere” will be efficient and convenient for organisations, especially multinationals and those recruiting for multiple “McJobs” where speed and efficiency may take priority over getting the absolute best person every time.   I’m sure Hire Vue have thought all of the implications of bouncing personal data around the globe like this – their website  contains an express assurance that when using its product, “legal and technology leaders can sleep well at night”.  But we’re all only one click away from YouTube infamy these days – I can’t help wondering whether an ‘interview blunder’ clip could slip through the privacy net and go viral – perhaps shunting a cute cat or Korean rapper off the YouTube top spot for 2013.

Still, there could be a silver lining (in terms of recruitment prospects rather than dignity) for any unfortunate YouTube megastar – more YouTube hits would mean a higher Klout score.  And Klout points = prizes (or jobs in this case).   Klout scores work on the basis that “the more engagement and action you inspire with the content you create, the greater your influence”.  For anyone who’s still not quite sure what that means, a greater digital presence leads to a higher Klout score.  And this metric is now being taken into account by some recruiters as an explicit measure of suitability for a role.

Critics have derided this as a method of selection on the basis that a Klout score is easy to manipulate (e.g. by having an automated Twitter account which churns out content regularly by tweeting links to other people’s blogspots).  I barely know what that means; I can guarantee my mum wouldn’t know.  So does Klout score assessment (whatever its merits) present an age discrimination risk for companies like Salesforce which last year posted a job ad seeking candidates with the desired skill of a Klout score of 35 or more?   In my view, no more so than posting a role that requires candidates to demonstrate digital skills.  The same rules apply: provided that the role actually justifies the requirement, any indirect discrimination ought also to be objectively justifiable.  And these days there are many roles where it is desirable to have an ability to move content over social media channels to create reactions – the Salesforce role was for an “Online Community Manager”.   Where the role demands an ability to influence online communities (“Head of Digital Talent Acquisition” perhaps?), what’s wrong with looking at the Klout score as a measure of this?   Would you object to being assessed based on your Klout score?   Let us know your views.