It’s no secret that the job market is becoming more and more competitive for organizations seeking new talent. More positions are opening than there are qualified applicants to fill, and stellar candidates often have multiple offers to consider.
If you drag your feet during the hiring process, your organization will lose out on the best and brightest employees. The swifter competition will have already scooped them up. In fact, 35% of CEOs identified an inefficient recruiting and interview process as one of the top concerns for their organizations.
On the other hand, you don’t want to race through the recruiting process without fully screening candidates or managing their expectations. It’s important to move quickly, but speed will do you no good if a bad hire ends up costing your company more time and money than the original process itself.
It’s all about finding that sweet spot between agility and quality. Here’s how:
#1. Write Better Job Descriptions
The best way to change your process is to start at the beginning: how you’re talking about the open position. The purpose of a job description isn’t just to tell people about the job you have available; its true purpose is to attract the right candidates and set the right expectations about the position and your company.
When a position needs filling, hiring managers are often too stressed about finding a candidate to slow down and think about what kind of candidate they really want and need. In the interest of time, they may not spend enough time developing an effective job description, and the result is either a flood of unqualified candidates or a trickle of candidates who can meet super-specific demands.
As an HR professional, you can help improve the quality of applicants by having a candid conversation with the hiring manager about what the job description should say.
Here’s what you should consider as you generate a job description with the hiring manager:
- What are the 5 core skills that a person needs for this job?
- What will this person spend most of their time doing?
- What tasks can they learn after being hired?
- How will the company measure success for this position?
- How much experience does this person need?
By creating a job description that gives an accurate reflection of the position along with preferred and critical qualifications, you cut out a massive amount of time you might otherwise spend screening (and you avoid hunting for a purple squirrel). The description does the screening for you so your funnel of candidates is narrower right from the start.
#2. Eliminate Unnecessary Steps in Your Hiring Process Timeline
The more unnecessary steps you can cut out of the process, the more time you’ll save and the more likely you’ll be to beat the competition for the best candidates. A quick, easy hiring process is as important to candidates as it is to those doing the hiring.
A quick, easy hiring process is as important to candidates as it is to those doing the hiring.
According to a 2016 Talent Board research report, 17 percent of all candidates who reported having a negative experience with an organization’s recruiting process withdrew their applications because the process took too long.
When evaluating the steps of your hiring process, consider these questions:
- What does each step accomplish?
- Is there something you can change within the description or ad placement to eliminate some steps altogether?
- Which steps lead to bottlenecks in the hiring process?
- Where do candidates typically choose to exit the process?
By carefully auditing your process, you can determine which phases are moving you forward and which are holding you back.
#3. Make the Interview Count
After you’ve screened your candidates, you’ll want to narrow down the pool even further by interviewing them individually. Many organizations lose candidates during the interview process because of bad interviewing practices.
Let’s look at a few of the most common interview pitfalls here:
Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
It might seem important to have all those department heads provide input on each candidate for the graphic designer position. But think about this: Are all ten of those individuals ever going to agree? By involving too many stakeholders, you may be creating an impassable conflict.
A better way to gain group approval is to take input from people at the beginning as you’re crafting the job description, then leave a small group as the actual decision makers.
It might be a good icebreaker to ask a candidate what their spirit animal is, but it won’t give you very much insight as to how well they’ll perform the job. In order to make each interview as comprehensive and meaningful as possible, don’t use “magic bullet” questions. They don’t work. Use the targeted job description as a point of reference for what to ask in the interview.
When Manager A says she liked the first candidate the most, does she have a good reason? In order to be effective, feedback must go beyond gut feelings and hunches. And your interviews need structure if they’re going to fairly evaluate different candidates and eliminate unconscious bias.
It helps to prepare a list of questions and scorecards for each hiring manager before the interview process begins. Each hiring manager in the interview can then rank each candidate on elements such as culture fit, skill set, and whatever else is important. By sticking to the same questions and using a consistent rating system, you can compare apples to apples (and leave the oranges out of it).
It’s not enough to put candidates through an interview, hand out scorecards to the managers, and hope it all comes together. To make the most of your hiring process timeline, it’s critical that you follow up with managers and candidates while the interview is still fresh in their minds.
Give hiring managers a chance to make notes and debrief from the interviews, and keep candidates informed on next steps. It might feel like herding cats at times, but eventually, you’ll turn your interview process into a well-oiled machine.
#4. Keep the Communication Channels Open
There’s no faster way to drive someone away than to give them nothing but radio silence. This is known as “black hole syndrome”—when candidates disappear into the funnel and never hear anything from the hiring organization.
Schedule communication from the very start so they know:
- How long the application will take
- When you’ve received their application
- When they can expect to hear back
- The hiring process timeline
- How long each step will probably take
Not only will this make for a much better candidate experience, but it will also encourage candidates to stick around for the entire process, even if you can’t move quite as fast as your competitors.
Along with communication, there needs to be a sense of individual attention, especially for those candidates who make it further through the process. Interviewing is stressful; making candidates feel welcome and comfortable means they’ll be more themselves during the actual interview.
For example, when a new candidate comes to BambooHR for an interview, our reception team offers them water and keeps them company while they wait. The recruiter that they’ve been talking to up to that point takes the candidate on a guided tour of the entire office so they see a snapshot of the office atmosphere and get a better sense of our company culture in action. As they tour the office with someone they already “know,” they can ask questions they might never ask in an interview while also asking themselves if they want to work here. It’s another form of helping both parties know if they match up.
#5. Maintain a Talent Pool
Creating an incredible candidate experience can speed up your recruiting process in the future as well. According to the 2016 Talent Board report, 64 percent of candidates who report a great hiring process say that they will increase their relationship with the organization—and we aren’t just talking about the people who were hired. Most of these positive-reporting candidates weren’t even hired at the organizations they’re talking about.
If you can maintain a positive relationship with almost two-thirds of all your candidates, including those you don’t hire, you gain a talent pool full of candidates who are already screened, qualified, and interested. Creating a positive relationship with every qualified candidate means you could cut your time-to-hire way down on a future job.
For example, we hired one person for a managerial position about a year ago. Throughout the process, we discovered another candidate who didn’t quite fit the position for which he had applied. However, we liked his skill set and felt he would be the perfect fit for a different job that was coming up soon. When that second job opened up shortly after the first, we reached out to him and hired him within weeks.
If he had left the first hiring process with a bad taste in his mouth, we would’ve had to start a whole new search for a qualified candidate. But because he had a positive experience, we cut our time-to-hire down to zero. You can’t get much faster than that.
When it comes improving and speeding up your hiring and recruiting process, the best way is to experience it firsthand. If you make improvements to your process, have your hiring managers “apply” and walk through the new steps along with you. If all of you find certain steps confusing or lengthy, chances are your candidates do, too. Identify where you can cut out cumbersome procedures, streamline work, and improve communication.
By making changes like the ones outlined above, you’ll save your organization a huge amount of time and money while sweeping the best candidates off their feet—it could be the start of a beautiful thing!