Home / Features / Right behaviour

Right behaviour

How can recruiters balance a cultural fit with diversity? Through a more behavioural led recruitment strategy says David Bernard, CEO of predictive hiring firm, AssessFirst

Warnings have come from the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) of a huge recruitment challenge. Between May and July, there were 38,000 vacancies in the construction industry, the highest for more than 20 years. So while the recent government announcement of £650 billion investment in infrastructure projects over the next decade is welcome, there is now a skills and recruitment gap that has to be filled – and fast – within five years.

With significant investment in the sector expected, the cumulative cost of getting recruitment wrong is a problem most will be keen to avoid.


According to McKinsey, the top five per cent of talent is eight times more productive than average talent. The problem however is that it is almost always impossible to predict who will be in your top five per cent before they join – especially when you look forward six, 12 or 18 months into their time with you. Competition is high. A combination of Brexit and the pandemic has meant that pay packages for those still in demand across construction, infrastructure and facilities has rocketed ahead of this growth period. Retention is vital. It isn’t just about securing top talent – the top five per cent – it is about keeping them.


Hiring candidates that align with company culture can be a profitable exercise; it increases the likelihood that good candidates will stay. Considering the affinity between talent and company values enables firms to take an objective view of the longevity and efficiency of any hire, at any level.


Shifting emphasis away from skills-based assessments in facilities and construction – without relegating its critical importance, in order to better consider soft skills and behavioural assessments, not only increases the likelihood of cultural affinity and profitability but also diversifies the pool of talent available.

Many across FM understand and are pushing diversity, equality and inclusion. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves. Some are pioneers. Others pay lip service. And the reason for the disjointed rate of progress – a problem seen in almost all industries – is that diversity and inclusion are often viewed as concepts that are at odds with efficiency and profitability by those at the very top.

One thing is for sure. There is not enough talent in the pipeline right now in the UK. There are two solutions: either existing talent pools can be trained or new talent pools need to be unlocked. In either case, I believe the answer to be the same.

How do you know who can progress, adapt, innovate through training? How do you know who can be airlifted from one field of expertise to another – and succeed? Personality based recruitment, with consideration for cultural fit, opens up new doors for hiring managers and new attractive pathways for teams that are being consistently baited away by promises of better pay from others in the sector.

With the accelerated remote working culture that is in place for so many, geographic, cultural, and economic diversity has never been more easy to implement in recruitment processes.

To quote McKinsey again, that those pushing ahead with gender diversity are 25 per cent more likely to financially outperform companies than those lagging behind, there is a commercial, as well as a moral, obligation to drive diversity through behavioural analytics in recruitment.


An AI recruitment platform collects hundreds of data points about a candidate without the candidate having to complete long drawn-out questionnaires. This gives employers two crucial advantages in the hiring process; it provides a breakdown of a candidate’s personality type, and it helps to predict each candidate’s behaviour, revealing the tasks, projects and even teams where they will have the most impact. Gathering objective personality data provides insight that can help to eradicate unconscious biases. All employers are susceptible to, for example, confirmation or affinity bias during the recruitment process. This bias, perhaps more than any other factor, contributes to bad hires.

Those continuing to recruit without the benefits afforded by Artificial Intelligence are prone to being in the 74 per cent of employers that make the wrong hire. Data driven personality recruitment goes well beyond a simple tick-box personality test. It is a deep analytical tool that draws from behavioural science: assessing cognitive and non-cognitive patterns. This is how employers can tap into the top five per cent of talent specific to their company and culture.

The recruitment model of ‘advert, application, interview’ is as antiquated a process as there is in business. AI powered recruitment is more frequently associated with blue chip tech companies, but I think that a much larger cross section of the business community, many of whom are challenged by the uncertain post-pandemic market, cannot afford to get recruitment wrong. And it is personality metrics that will help to ensure they get it right.

About Sarah OBeirne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *