Using talent-finder software to simplify hiring decisions is all the rage. Hiring managers across the country love the idea that one of their most difficult tasks – hiring – can now done through software.  So, what is good and what is risky when using these new hiring tools to evaluate talent?

Many job applicants today expect that their resumes will go through an initial computer scan of some type, but many people are not prepared for the fact that their initial interview may involve gaming that also will be scored by software. Meet Knack, a Silicon Valley company that is revolutionizing how employers evaluate potential talent.  Knack’s team of behavioral scientists and software and game designers and developers create video games that provide insights into applicants’ “knacks” – their values, behaviors, career potential and the like.

For example, as players engage in Knack’s app-based video game Wasabi Waiter, they are evaluated on their ability to deliver the right sushi order to the right customer as the restaurant becomes more crowded and the player also has to wash dishes, deliver menus, and keep patrons happy.  Similarly, Dungeon Scrawl players, are scored on their ability to navigate a maze and solve problems.  The software records how players solve problems, how long they hesitate before taking action, persistence, ability to prioritize, and so forth.  The end result reveals a mosaic of key attributes – empathy, perception, creativity, introvert or extrovert, ability to remain calm under pressure, risk taker or risk averse, and much more.  Indeed, the longer one plays, the more complete the picture will be.

It is evident that with such data, organizations can better decipher who is likely to be a better fit for the requirements of a particular position. Do you want to hire an introvert for a customer-facing sales position?  Should you hire a thrill-seeker as a police officer?  Should a bus driver be someone who is prone to take risks?  Many of these human characteristics are important to the positions, but very difficult to discern through resumes and traditional job interviews.  As analytics testing develops, “knacks” will appear in social medial profiles.  Talent evaluation through such innovative software products is still in its nascent stage, however, as such tools are produced, they must be carefully vetted to screen unlawful bias.

What should you be concerned about?  Disparate impact that disproportionately excludes protected groups, regardless of intent.

How should you protect yourself? Ask the software vendor what selection factors are used.  The further the selection factors get from the job requirements, the more problematic it can be from an adverse impact perspective.  In the discrimination context, you will need to show that the selections factors utilized were directly related to key elements of successful job performance.  So, do your homework upfront and only screen for important job-related criteria. Make sure to fully test talent analytics products and determine which lawful prospective employee data you should consider before you adopt the latest hiring tools that have the potential to be game changers.