The Experts: Dr. Marcia Goddard on the Scientific Approach to Recruitment

Dr. Marcia Goddard

Neuroscientist, &ranj

Dr. Marcia Goddard received her master’s degree in clinical neuropsychology cum laude at Leiden University in 2012, and her PhD in social neuroscience in 2015. At &ranj, Marcia is responsible for incorporating science into their way of working, and conducting studies to assess and improve the effectiveness of their products. Her goal is to build bridges between science and business, as both sides could benefit from stronger partnerships.

Welcome to another installment of our Power Women in Recruitment Month. Throughout October, we will celebrate some of the incredible women that make up the recruitment industry, highlighting their career achievements along the way.

In this clip, Dr. Marcia Goddard, Neuroscientist at &Ranj, shares how her background in neuroscience has helped shape her views of the recruitment industry.


How does a neuroscientist end up in the recruitment industry?

Dr. Marcia Goddard: I’m a neuroscientist and I used to work as an assistant professor, so I have a Ph.D. in social neuroscience and I was on the career trajectory towards being a professor until I realized that that was going to make me profoundly unhappy. So I decided to leave academia, but I still wanted to be a scientist, so I tried to find a place where I could do research and actually bring science and business together.

For the past three years, I’ve been working at YoungCapital, which is one of the largest recruitment agencies in the Netherlands. Just recently, I switched to &Ranj, which is a company that specializes in using serious gaming and gamification as a driver for positive behavioral change, and what I do there is basically incorporate science into everything that we do.

How do you view the recruitment industry different from a recruiter with a more traditional background?

MG: The biggest difference between the way I look at recruitment and how a recruiter would look at recruitment, is that I use the scientific method. What I try to do is break up behavior, look for patterns, and make it more measurable so that we can actually use that knowledge to drive innovation within the industry.

How has technology transformed the way recruitment professionals build relationships with candidates?

MG: Technology has made it possible to get closer to clients and candidates. It’s made it easier to connect with them, but there’s also a danger there, and you see that a lot happening in the sense that people feel like if you expand too much because everybody’s always so available, so that’s a bit of a challenge. But I think it’s made it easier for recruiters to reach out to people and that in essence is a good thing.

Have you seen a change in the application of machine learning in the recruitment industry?

MG: It’s not really about the specific technology that’s introduced, but it’s about a shift in the way people handle all those changes. And I think companies are taking steps to retrain their workforce so that they’re more able to deal with all those changes. I can see that happening and I’m very happy that I see a bit of a scientific approach there. The gap between science and business is decreasing, and I’m really happy about that.

Do you feel that AI ameliorates or exacerbates stress in the life of a recruiter?

MG: That’s a good question, that’s really good. It offers countless possibilities so it should ameliorate it. But what it does in practice is make people scared that robots are going to take their jobs, so that’s a bit of an issue. But I think people are starting to realize now that AI can be used for good and that it’s very difficult to build empathy into a computer, so they don’t have to worry that much. People are starting to realize now that it can actually help them get rid of repetitive and boring tasks, and in that sense, it’s really a good thing.

If you’re interested in hearing more insights from Dr. Marcia Goddard, check out Dr. Marcia Goddard on Embracing and Fearing Technology’s Impact on the Global Talent Shortage, Dr. Marcia Goddard on the Gender Gap in STEM Fields and Take It from the Top: Episode 8 – Dr. Marcia Goddard and Leah McKelvey.