Will Predictive Talent Analytics make Instincts Extinct?

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Talent Analytics in the Age of Algorithms

Stephen John People AnalyticsBy Steven John, Business Development Manager at PredictiveHire


Instincts are often hard to explain or justify and sometimes may even seem whimsical. However, they are data-driven, borne from the brain’s ability to learn from previous experiences, positive and negative, and we use them to influence future outcomes.

This is what predictive talent analytics software does. Using data points (experiences) to predict talent outcomes (hire / proceed with caution / no-hire).


Competency FrasmeworkSo why should an evolved and mature talent team with years of experience and super-sharp instincts need or want to use predictive talent analytics?

Simple. Because sometimes our instincts are wrong. Sometimes humans make mistakes. And we humans all have biases, whether conscious or subconscious.

A recruiter’s instinct may lead them to rejecting a profile based on the applicant’s travel distance/time between the office and home and that’s understandable. But what if predictive talent analytics could identify something deeper and more powerful than a commute?

The candidate may have an attachment to the business domain based on a particular set of relevant life experiences that go much deeper than the words on a CV/resume.

Isn’t that the sort of candidate you want in your company? Someone whose life experiences have made them a good fit for your business, identified by the technology before a recruiter’s bias mistakenly dismisses their profile.


Technology within HR and talent is evolving how companies hire, the same way that roller decks, fax machine and newspaper adverts have been replaced by advanced databases, email and online job boards.

Some organisations are using newer HR technologies to engage with their workforce, to measure happiness and examining why some people left. Others are looking to understand how some of their better performing talent came into the business, looking at candidates’ backgrounds, job boards used, their age (discrimination warning!) and academic achievements & institutions (with some organisations trying to level the academic playing-field) and a range of other easily obtainable pieces of information. And that’s great, it really is.

But it’s possible to do much better and it doesn’t have to be challenging or daunting. I don’t mean to diminish the hard work that many talent professionals put in to retain their staff, and each business is different but, broadly speaking, if your staff are wanting to leave, should you move heaven and earth to stop them?

Or could you come at it from a different angle and instead look to make a deeper, data-driven set of hires by finding people who’ll want to stay and continue performing? Because that’s what predictive talent analytics can do for your business.

Pick your technology tool correctly and your organisation can have its own super-recruiter onboard. One that works with the existing talent team, not in spite of them. A super-recruiter that knows about every hire the team has made, those who did/didn’t work out and it can map the correlations between a multitude of factors that equate to successful performance, specifically within your business.

An algorithm can spot patterns that the human brain/eye simply cannot and that’s what predictive talent analytics brings to the table. A depth of understanding and analysis that the human brain cannot compute.

Predictive talent analytics can also help a business become more diverse and equal, with a more socially mobile workforce – something that’s proven to increase cashflow. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your business is becoming more diverse through unbiased analysis of capability and suitability?

I challenge you to find me a Finance Director, CEO or Head of Function who doesn’t want their business to improve performance whilst also ensuring the workforce remains productive and happy.

Improving hiring outcomes has been on the talent agenda for years and there are a lot of testing tools available in the market that can shed light and help with talent processes. Psychometric tests have their place, but they can be gamed. And even if the applicants aren’t manipulating their answers, that test is, broadly speaking, telling you the same thing that their previous employer knew about that candidate when they were previously hired.

In other words, you’re reading the same pieces of information that, for whatever reason, could have contributed to that person leaving their previous role. So does that make that person a good or bad hire? Nobody really knows! However, through the use of predictive talent analytics, a business can move beyond generic bandings and bracketing of personality types.

Instead teams can woTalent Analyticsrk with, and learn from, a new super-recruiter colleague that has condensed several hundred human hours into a few minutes. Your new colleague will provide you with a shortlist of suitable talent for you to then add your own analysis around cultural fit, communication and some of the finer details of the role.

So no, I don’t think the instincts of talent processionals are likely to go the way of the dinosaurs or the Dodo, instead they’ll evolve. Rather than being the first filter, people will be the final and, likely still, the most important and nuanced.

Your predictive talent analytics tool isn’t there to take your job, it’s your new colleague.


Unbiased, super-productive, efficient and accurate. It will extract the insights from your workforce and help frame your talent acquisition processes before stepping back and letting the humans do their job.

Predictive talent analytics isn’t a people vs machine revolution, it’s evolution.

Find Steven on LinkedIn

Steven was a recruiter for 13 years and is now Business Development Manager at PredictiveHire, a leading ‘Workforce Science” consulting and SaaS solutions provider.

This article also appears on LinkedIn Pulse