I spoke with James Holmes, research manager, HR and Organizational Analytics, Openworks Corporation, (And You, Too!), on the hottest thing in the HR world this year. With Hired, and today with People Analytics in the Top 100 of the 2016 IBM Watson Leadership Index, Holmes is helping HR people analytics become a billion-dollar market. He laid out the pitfalls and pitfallshooting.

You are working on a product to match employers and applicants. Can you describe what it does, and what is the technology involved?

Our people analytics tool, derived from IBM Watson, is an HR human-machine interface that automates human resource (HR) decisions using statistical models developed by thousands of job candidates and a deep library of company performance data.

Hired is a visual H-I-V system that automates and visualizes the screening process through a dynamic workspace, addressing candidates’ visual cues and allowing each side to be rated in their own area of expertise. Anders Gustafsson is well known in the HR world for pioneering our tool by combining the employee assessments into our HR Analytics suite of apps, Hired Connect, a work-life management concept.

How does the technology help recruiters?

It gives HR professionals the ability to collect, analyze and present job candidates’ full competencies, in a comprehensive, visual and dynamic way. They can also use Hired to automate the quality assurance process to improve performance, access key performance indicators (KPIs) and identify influencers throughout the hiring process. A higher KPI score drives a stronger suggestion of candidate fit.

Will employers eventually become more discriminating and hire who they want to hire rather than who they feel or feel comfortable with?

Our data indicates that the likelihood of a company hiring based on your personal behavior is lower than hiring based on current job responsibilities. On average, 71% of hiring managers admit to making a hiring decision based on a candidate’s personality versus a current job responsibility. In addition, while 53% of hiring managers cite a candidate’s facial expression as a major criterion for hiring, only 19% of hiring managers use this feature.

How much testing is needed before a job candidate is invited for an interview? What happens if an applicant doesn’t pass that test?

It varies from company to company, but in general, the research suggests between 10-15 seconds of background screen to gauge cognitive capacity, and about 20 seconds for psychometric assessment. Once accepted, an applicant would need at least 5 seconds to answer each statement from the initial screening screen, with less time required for real answers. All applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with the level of rigor based on the company, the position and the applicant.

Can an applicant find out before an interview if they didn’t pass?

Candidates need to check with the interviewer, but HR does not randomly share results. HR will look at what it knows about the applicant and work from there.

How does the tool measure candidate personality?

Talent assessment is one of our biggest strengths. HR analytics surveys thousands of individuals from several demographics and it provides benchmarks for 90 different types of competencies. Talent assessment is also a strong indicator of the candidates’ performance in a job.

Can HR employees use the software to gain or lose jobs or obtain promotions?

The tool helps users to decide, but HR employees will have to opt in to use it. It also does not make recommendations in terms of job offers or promotions. HR managers will have to make that decision.

In summary, what would you like to see come out of HR analytics?

HR analytics will have to become more mainstream and accessible to all participants. HR data is critical to identifying talent issues and placing decisions that could benefit the company. We already have data that shows from 5-10% of applicants are the right fit for positions. HR analytics can help with this.

I believe the tool will accelerate technology driven change in HR.