Building a Question to Find Top Talent

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By: Christian Walker, Senior Associate RAP Analytics, and Cassie Chico, Senior Recruiter

Everyone knows that, to achieve success, you have to be willing to rethink what got you where you are. Enova’s Analytics and Recruiting teams came face-to-face with this truth recently, when we realized that our recruiting process for new analysts wasn’t doing enough to narrow the field. This led to our recruiters exhausting themselves in marathon recruitment sessions, struggling to uncover the bright spots in a massive pool of applicants.

While the initial diagnosis was easy enough to establish — “We aren’t asking the right questions to narrow down the field.” — solving our problem was another issue altogether. It began by assessing the elements missing from our current process — namely, that we need to get a sense not just of the applicant’s skills, but their ability to problem-solve. Working in analytics is akin to solving a problem where the parts are constantly in flux. But how to test for this?

After many conversations between Analytics and Recruiting, we determined that the best way to examine an applicant’s ability to problem-solve on the fly was to create a question that asked them, essentially, to role-play. This new question was created with multiple seemingly independent parts — parts that together, tell a larger story. Initially, the applicant is presented with a general description of the issue at hand, along with some key data. They must ask the correct questions and apply their technical abilities (math, programming, etc.) to the problem. There’s the potential in the problem to reach a variety of explanations, and the central challenge is such that a successful candidate will have not only applied their own skills, but will have taken all the evidence and used it to reach the correct outcome.

After testing the new question in the spring of 2014, it was implemented in the fall with great success. We found that the new question did wonders in helping applicants understand precisely what we were looking for, which made it easier for us to narrow the field. As a result, from 2013 to 2014, we saw a decrease in the number of on-site interviews and number of hours spent interviewing candidates, while at the same time seeing an increase in overall acceptance rate of offers given.

This is an especially exciting improvement for recruiting, as we are constantly looking for new ways not just to streamline our process, but to improve the acceptance rate for potential Enova employees. It also speaks volumes about our Top Talent and Teamwork value — by combining the efforts of the Recruiting and Analytics teams, we have found a better way to continue bringing the best of the best to Enova.