Finding the right candidate for a position is vital but can be a time-consuming process, particularly when faced with several applications, as is common in graduate recruitment programmes. Much like dating, hiring involves a significant investment of patience, skill, and understanding. Just as in dating, the hiring journey doesn’t always unfold smoothly and may outnumber successes.

However, amidst the traditional recruitment landscape, a new concept is currently in use at some top South African universities. This concept aims to introduce graduates to various leading South African companies across various sectors and has proven to be a valuable and effective way of identifying talent.

Now, some companies are taking inspiration from “speed dating” for professionals in their hiring process. This is a way to quickly assess talent and condense the initial stages of the hiring process into brief, focused interactions to evaluate compatibility and suitability. In a nutshell, this platform allows for a concise pitch, both from the applicant and the prospective employer.

This initial interview enables the recruiter to assess a candidate on the spot and get a feel for their personality and soft skill capabilities, beyond the skills already listed on their CV. Characteristics such as curiosity, ambition, and the ability to handle a surprising situation are not something that can be assessed from a CV. The time constraint of this type of interview encourages applicants to demonstrate these types of traits and to focus on key aspects within the conversation.

While this type of recruitment screening isn’t suitable for every type of employment application, it is proving to be effective within the tech industry for both graduate placements as well as the sourcing of entry-level and customer-facing roles.

These quick initial chats give a good indication of whether the candidate could be a fit for the company.  First impressions do count, as does the ability to think on your feet and excel in a situation you cannot necessarily prepare for. This approach is also a great advantage to the candidates themselves and allows them to get a real feel for the culture of the company they are applying to.

The recruitment process still heavily relies on personality and EQ, along with body language and the reading of nonverbal cues. Recruitment speed-dating allows us to evaluate a person within a casual setting while being able to establish their confidence levels and the impression they might make when dealing with customers. This on-the-spot interaction also allows real, raw and honest replies.

Since this is a time-sensitive interaction, the recruiter needs to be prepared, and to conduct the interview, casually, in a structured manner to enable a fruitful conversation to take place. The candidate also needs to have enough time to ask any questions they might have.

Traditional, more formal interviews are often a little predictable. While these longer, more in-depth interviews are important at the next level, speed dating in recruitment is an effective method to source the top graduates or entry-level candidates, especially when you are faced with hundreds of applications.

Given the nature of a consulting firm, we need candidates who can think on their feet, hold a conversation, and present themselves well. Incorporating speed dating in the recruitment process is an ideal time-saving method to screen candidates and assess how they handle situations they cannot fully prepare for. Rather than spending hours assessing each initial candidate, this method enables the assessment of up to five or six candidates within an hour.

While there is never a guarantee that a candidate is a perfect match, speed dating in recruitment allows an initial deeper understanding of the person behind the CV.

In the current fast-paced and dynamic tech sector, adopting the speed dating concept offers the advantage of engaging with a larger pool of graduates or applicants. This extended interaction time increases the chances of identifying the best talent among the candidates, ensuring a more comprehensive evaluation and a higher likelihood of selecting top-notch individuals for your team.

  • Zanele Lecage, Information Technology Recruitment Consultant at Altron Karabina
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