A robust hiring process, based around consistent timelines, can make or break the growth and success of any company. Here, we examine how and why.
Efficiency is key, though it’s important to note that efficiency doesn’t always equal speed. From the first call with internal stakeholders it’s a team effort to provide the best candidate experience from planning to intake all the way through to offer stage and onboarding. If this takes time, it’s not necessarily a problem, as long it’s fluid and communication is strong.
Where you work will also impact the process and how you manage that will be key. For example, if you are at a high profile company, then attracting interested candidates might be easier, but it’s a double-edged sword as you have a lot of applicants to work through and not all will be qualified candidates. At a lesser known name, the challenge will be different of course.
The level of flexibility you can employ also has an impact. Does the process need to be sped up or can stages be removed for certain candidates? If there’s freedom here then it should help everyone involved reach a successful outcome.
Ultimately, it all begins with a proactive pipeline and a proactive mindset.
Different companies do things in different ways, as any experienced talent management professional can tell you. Where one company might prefer a relaxed approach, giving candidates time to settle in ahead of interviews, offering tours and refreshments, the next company will have the process timed down to the minute.
Evidence suggests that candidates perform better once they’ve had a short amount of time – approximately 15 minutes – to get their bearings and settle before the first interview, but other processes can also be successful. In most cases, it depends on the position.
In recent years the rise of video interviewing has given recruiters and applicants another avenue to explore. Smaller companies without the budget for travel expenses and candidates open to remote work or relocating have benefited considerably as result.
Review and Refine
The recruitment process is always evolving. Some companies are more amenable to change while others will wait around to take on new ideas. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions but always have data to support it. No matter what, the goal should always be about developing and sharing best practices.
A recent trend is to offer unsuccessful candidates the opportunity to have a short chat with the hiring manager to get some feedback, or to join an online community specialising their field.
This provides a soft landing but displays respect and sensitivity to the candidate. In an era where the idea of ‘employer branding’ is growing more and more important, this is the kind of thing companies talk about but rarely back up with action. For a small amount of effort it also creates familiarity and a pool of potential candidates and referrals for future roles, which can only help when the hiring market tightens.
Stages and Communication
It’s estimated that the process from phone screen to debrief takes approximately four to six weeks so it’s imperative to alway be up front and clear about what candidates can expect. As a result, whether the process is longer, shorter or in between, the candidate knows what to expect throughout.
Delays can happen. Getting internal stakeholders onside is key here as delays from them will ultimately delay everything and it’s well known in hiring that “time kills deals”. Waiting for feedback through various stages, often coming from very busy people, can be frustrating for the recruiter, hiring manager and candidate.
While it might seem ideal that your process should be as quick as possible, it can be costly to move too quickly too. People don’t make informed decisions on either side when it’s done too quickly and this can lead to attrition down the line.
It’s important to offer balance and give candidates enough opportunities to get to know the company and your people – those they’ll work directly with as well as staff from other departments – during the process.
If speed becomes your priority then you run the risk of the candidate not getting a full understanding of the role or the company, which naturally presents a risk to the company as well.
It has become increasingly common for a lot of companies to employ some form of deep dive assessment to their interview process, whether it’s a coding challenge for software developers, some form of brief for creative roles or a presentation or essay for a leadership position. Naturally, it’s crucial to be upfront about it at the beginning of the process so the candidate knows it’s coming.
Getting value from this stage is all about having the right type of assessment, making sure it looks for the right things while also highlighting the candidate’s ability clearly. Having a test for the sake of it is pointless and will only make the process longer and waste time for the candidates and assessors.
Once a decision has been made, always remember the candidate just needs an answer. Once you have it, positive or negative, make the call as soon as you can. Transparency and being up front, limits any bad reactions as well.
Process and Timing Best Practices
- Be upfront. Whether it’s about timelines, stages or assessments, candidates should have clarity at the beginning without any surprises along the way.
- Be flexible. Does every stage of the process need to be included for every role? Can we introduce efficiency anywhere?
- Be open-minded. Could new technologies or ideas improve your existing processes? Would a phone or video call work in place of an in-person meeting?
- Be persistent. “Time kills deals”. Yes your stakeholders are very busy, but so are you. While always being respectful, keep pushing until you’ve got the feedback or decision you need.
- Be considerate. Is this test truly worthwhile for the process? Can we save the candidate and reviewers the time and effort?