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Are Hiring Algorithms the Solution to Supply Chain Talent Gaps?

Michael Wilson | Sep 27, 2017

If your company has been struggling to find innovative, young employees to fill vacant positions, perhaps it's time to completely overhaul your hiring process. Take a page out of ...

Supply-chain-planning-2.jpgIf your company has been struggling to find innovative, young employees to fill vacant positions, perhaps it's time to completely overhaul your hiring process. Take a page out of Unilever's book, for instance. When the British company, known best for making beauty products like Dove and Axe, weren't finding the right candidates for their company, they developed a radical new method. In short, Unilever's team created a hiring algorithm to minimize human error, reduce time-consuming face-to-face interaction, and speed up the entire process of vetting potential employees. Paper resumes and multiple in-person job interviews are no longer required. Plus, most of the hiring steps at Unilever can be completed through the candidate's smartphone.

Pretty wild, right? We bet you're wondering how an algorithm could be developed to find suitable candidates for supply chain planning jobs, or whether this method is even successful. With all of the buzz within the industry about talent shortages, Unilever's hiring strategies are certainly worth inspecting. Below, we'll explain the UK company's algorithm in detail and how adopting a similar technology could benefit your organization.

How Does Unilever's Algorithm Work?

Unilever originally developed their hiring algorithm to reach a larger pool of new candidates who recently finished their university or college educations. Previously, the London-based company had been focusing on a handful of schools, which was limiting their access to talented potential employees. So Unilever teamed up with tech developers to create a revolutionary hiring method, accessible online to individuals around the world.

After the algorithm's recruiting portal was finalized, Unilever posted ads on Facebook, Muse, and WayUp to catch young people's attention. And by all accounts, their plan worked. Since launching the algorithm in late 2016, the company reports that they've hired a total of 450 new recruits. That number may seem high, but if you consider that 275,400 people applied, it puts things into perspective.

The beauty of the Unilever algorithm is its efficiency. Candidates have to pass through three rounds of interviews and tests before they meet with an actual company representative. To reach the in-person meeting stage, a candidate must fill in an online application form, complete a series of special games, and pass a video interview, where they answer questions about themselves and their abilities. Allegedly, the stages of games and video interviews can filter out about 60% to 80% of the candidates.

It's important to note that not even the video interview portion is viewed by human eyes. The AI software is designed to scan for the candidates' facial expressions, vocabulary, and how efficiently they reply to the questions. Despite taking the "human touch" out of the hiring process, Unilever's algorithm is said to be extremely effective. In fact, about 80% of the candidates who reach the final in-person interview are offered jobs.

What Does the Algorithm Mean For Your Organization?

By now, you're no doubt wondering if your company could adopt a similar hiring algorithm. The answer is: of course you can. While Unilever's algorithm may seem complex, its core principles are relatively simple. Fundamentally, it was still humans who programmed the algorithm to look for specific skills, which were deemed beneficial in the field of supply chain planning. If a business knows what they're looking for in a future employee, there's no reason why an algorithm couldn't be created to meet that company's unique needs.

Furthermore, it's worth pointing out that Unilever didn't develop this algorithm alone. They had some help from World Careers Network PLC, a company that sells AI-enhanced hiring products, and Pymetrics, who designed the test games played by candidates. As word spreads about Unilever's success, more and more of these products are bound to appear on the worldwide market. It wouldn't be a lofty assumption to guess that these recruitment algorithms will soon be common practice in today's sphere of supply chain planning. As a company, you'll need to decide just how quickly you want to greet the future.

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