As the Coronavirus continues to spread and impact the lives of nearly every person across the globe, businesses are becoming incredibly susceptible to losses in revenue, investments, and employees. Firms are being forced to make talent decisions in the near-term that can have significant impacts on their businesses over the long-run. Investment banks have one advantage over many employers though, which is how far in advance they begin hiring for entry level positions. The talent decisions they make today will help shape their firms well beyond this hopefully short-lived period of uncertainty.
To manage this Coronavirus-impacted recruiting cycle, many companies are adopting digital solutions to support their remote recruitment needs. But for a digital strategy to be useful and equally as (or more) efficient than traditional in-person methods, two types of tools need to play a role: assessments and artificial intelligence. First, objectively assessing candidates’ personalities and competencies can provide a uniform level of understanding that would not otherwise be discovered by standard resume screening. Second, AI has the ability to instantly analyze the vast amount of information collected by these assessments in order to accurately predict outcomes (the best hiring decisions). These technologies can also operate at a rate and scale that would be impossible even for the most efficient recruitment teams. Products that utilize these methods to identify the most relevant candidates are poised to help firms get it right during such uncertain times.
To that end, we have put together a step by step process of how investment banks can deploy a digital-first, AI and assessment-driven recruitment strategy for their Summer 2021 Financial Analyst recruitment cycle.
Maintain relevance to candidates
Just because classes are canceled does not mean that students will stop checking their schools’ job boards. In fact, many of the students we've engaged with are anxious for clarity on job prospects and next steps. Continue to post your positions as planned, and ensure that your LinkedIn and Careers pages stay up to date so that candidates stay informed. Consider communicating changes to your process well in advance of deadlines so that all candidates have an opportunity to adapt.
Use an assessment-based screening tool across the board
Pre-employment assessments can help firms minimize hiring time and select the most qualified candidates who best fit the firm, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. The Suited assessment measures over 50 characteristics that are specifically related to the job of an investment banking analyst. We then build A.I. models for each firm we work with, based on personality traits, like perfectionism and cooperation, as well as basic skills, like attention to detail, in order to accurately predict the probability of a new hire’s performance and retainability.
While not a requirement, we do strongly recommend that every candidate that enters your recruiting process takes the Suited assessment. This ensures fairness among all candidates, regardless of where they went to school or how they were introduced to your firm.
Create a thoughtful and intentionally diverse interview slate
In a recent survey we conducted on the effect of Coronavirus on firms’ recruiting plans, 64% of investment banks that were planning to interview in the Spring now say they are considering pushing interviews to the Summer and early Fall. This delayed start can actually work to your firms’ advantage, allowing you to be more thoughtful about who gets invited to do first-round interviews. In previous cycles, many recruiters have reported feeling pressure to compete, therefore making the timeline more aggressive every year.
Not only does this hurt the firm and lead to potential mis-hires, but it impacts candidates and, disproportionally, candidates who have been historically underrepresented in the industry. Students who do not attend “target” universities often are understandably unaware that they should be preparing for interviews or developing technical skills in their sophomore year. With this inevitable late start to recruiting in 2020, we may actually see a much more diverse set of candidates apply once they begin considering internships as they enter their junior year.
Conduct either first-round phone screens or video-interviews, but not both
To ensure fairness, we also recommend that every candidate be put through the same type of first-round interviews, whether that be phone or video-based. It would be unfair to give only certain candidates the opportunity to more easily display their personality on video. On the flip side, putting everyone through a phone screen could remove the types of interview-bias that could otherwise seep through during a video interview. Whichever direction you decide to go, just make sure it's consistent.
If your team decides to use video, many of our partner firms have reported having success with video interview or conference call services like BlueJeans, Zoom, and HireVue.
Be prepared for digital super days
Super days are intended to be much more structured and intense than first-round interviews, and the idea of pulling them off online may seem like a tall order. However, with proper planning and scheduling, it can run just as smoothly as it would in-person.
Each banker or colleague should be assigned a particular interview goal to ensure the firm is learning everything they can about the candidate. For example, one banker should be assessing technical skills, another should be trying to determine more about their culture fit, and so on. Each interviewer should be provided with a structured set of questions, and the criteria by which to ultimately score a candidate should be objective and easily understood by all interviewers.
Build in equity checkpoints
Between each stage of the cycle, recruiters and senior leaders should be analyzing whether certain candidates are being given preferential treatment and/or whether biases are making their way into the process. Everyone should be doing their best to make sure there is a fair distribution of candidates across race and gender, as well as target and non-target schools. Because most firms will be deploying some sort of a remote strategy, we expect the pace of hiring in the industry to be slowed. Use the time to ensure that at each stage of the process — first rounds, super days, and offers — your candidate slates are meeting your goals for representation.
These are uncomfortable and unpredictable times, which unfortunately, lends itself to reliance on the status quo, allowing for affinity bias and even panic to easily take hold. Many people may feel the urge to default to their comfort zones and assumptions about people and the process, but we are certain these anxieties can be cured with the right strategy and the right technology. The traditional process by which firms would normally recruit is, for the time being, no longer possible. However, it is our belief that by using industry-specific, de-biased tools like Suited, the challenge of recruiting during this global pandemic will be manageable and may yield the most promising class of Summer Analysts yet.