KPMG is using computer games and selfie videos in a radical new recruitment process for its graduate intake that is saving it millions of dollars.

The company says the new methods were a move away from the traditional model which based recruitment decisions primarily on academic results.

The method tests verbal communication skills, personal impact, decision-making, mental agility and strategic thinking.

National head of recruitment Nikki Harrison says it saved partners from having to sift through 10,000 resumes each year for its 350 graduate advisory and accounting positions.

The tests cull 60 per cent of the applicants before recruiters even look at a single resume.

While she would not reveal savings, sources indicate it is in the millions of dollars, given it spared KPMG partners from thousands of billable work hours.

Harrison says applicants have to submit a four-minute video talking about themselves.

“They need to be able to communicate in front of a client, and they need to be able to influence, ” Harrison says.

The 10-minute computer game simulates a busy working environment in an open office, with regular changes in activity to test mental agility and strategic thinking. The game is overlaid with values testing, to ensure the applicant’s values align with that of the company.

KPMG management consultant Siobhan Roberts, part of the 2015 intake, says she supported the change in process.

She says it eliminates the possibility that applicants could fake attributes or claim to have skills they do not possess.

The radical method is supported by new research from Harvard University that shows most employers have got the recruitment process back-to-front.

The researchers say employers typically cull candidates from a pile of resumes before conducting interviews, and then, at the final stages, use psychometric tests to narrow the field ahead of a final interview.

Harvard claims this is inefficient, with its research showing 47 per cent of all applicants lie on their resumes, making CVs an unreliable first port of call. It claims a short, web-based psychometric test should be the first step.

The researchers studied the effect of an 18-line online assessment called the Dependability and Safety Instrument and found a compelling case to support it.

One British company subjected 136 employees to the test and then tracked their absences.

Workers who scored in the highest 30 per cent were 2.3 times more likely to have perfect attendance as those in the bottom 30 per cent.

A Britain-based supermarket chain recently started using psychometric testing at the first stage of recruitment and found those who were eventually called in were better qualified.

The average number of people interviewed for each position fell from six to two, saving 73,000 hours of managerial time.

Choosing the wrong person for the job can be a costly mistake. Mercer Consulting found the cost of replacing an employee can be at least 150 per cent of the position’s annual salary.

Leadership coaching firm Integrity and Values says this cost rises to 700 per cent higher up the executive chain.

Integrity and Values chief executive Jennifer Elliott advises her clients to start with psychometric testing, followed by interviews.

Elliott says the tests should formulate about a third of the recruitment process, by highlighting the questions that need to be asked in an interview. She says tests should help, but not replace decisions that stem from human interaction.

Elliott agrees with Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, who recently revealed his golden rule for recruitment was to hire people only if he would be prepared to work for them.

She also supports Zuckerberg’s other key principle to hire people with the same values as the company.

“People are hired on their skills and fired on the attitude, ” Elliott says.

“Unless you need a brain surgeon, it’s best to hire on values first, and then skills.

“You can bring most people up to speed skills-wise — it’s the attitude that hardest to shift.”

But Elliott warns that values should not be confused with personality, which is the focus of some of the more popular psychometric tests.

“Don’t hire people based on their personality, ” she says.

“These tests will tell you not to hire introverts for sales, but introverts can make great salespeople if they have a fantastic attitude.”


© The West Australia