Too many open positions and not enough candidates – yet we’re shocked to find that companies have not sped up their hiring processes. According to one study, software engineers wait an average of 35 days to get through an interview process. Anyone who has recruited software engineers knows they have their choice of positions, and the longer the lag, the less your chance of snagging that wizard you’re after. You’ll lose good people to other offers. This issue not only relates to software, but also fields like accounting, financial services, healthcare, digital marketing, and even truck driving. CareerBuilder reports that over 100 occupations in the U.S. currently have more job postings than actual hires month over month.
If it’s so hard to find top candidates, why are hiring managers dragging out the interview process? As companies have learned about massive costs associated with hiring mistakes, hiring managers have become more cautious about moving quickly. Admirable motives, but often, a lengthy interview process does not improve the quality of the hire – it’s just wasted time. Here are five ways companies waste time while slowing down their time-to-hire.
Poor training. Most hiring managers know their field, but they don’t know how to hire. They often get to their first interview as a hiring manager and realize they aren’t prepared. So they replicate the process they went through when they were hired, for better or worse. That’s why so many interviewers continue to ask useless questions like “tell me about yourself” or “What are your weaknesses”; or, even worse, spend most of the interview telling the candidate about the position.
Lack of confidence. Without strong interviewing skills, hiring managers don’t get enough information from an interview to make an informed decision. No wonder they drag their feet! Lack of confidence causes hiring managers to waffle and procrastinate for weeks or even months. The candidate experience goes down the toilet as people fall into the dreaded “black hole”.
Loosely defined job description. Too many times, hiring managers don’t know exactly what they need their new hires to do – they just know they’re swamped and need help. “I want someone to take some stuff off of my plate”. Inevitably, the job gets loosely defined as the interviews progress, slowing the process of filling the position. Or, even worse, the hiring manager focuses on finding someone with industry experience instead of someone who will do a great job. No, they’re not the same thing. Not even close.
Poorly defined process. You know you need to grow your team, but don’t have a clearly defined hiring process at the time you start interviewing, leading to last-second conversations like “Should we have them do a skills test?” “Should the VP be involved?” “Should we bring them back one more time?” The process gets created as you go, and more layers of interviews get added spontaneously.
A C-level bottleneck. We love it when leaders are passionately interested in the quality of hires! When senior management wants to be personally involved, however, they have to be sure they are in a position to actually sit down and interview expeditiously. Too many great candidates are lost because the CEO was out of town or had a packed schedule, and another strong offer came along in the meantime.
So how can you streamline your process so you snag more of those top hires, and quickly? It’s not by sacrificing quality for expediency. In fact, desperation hiring is one of the major reasons for hiring failures. Here’s how to speed up successfully.
Train hiring managers in expert interviewing. A good interviewer is part journalist and part therapist. You have to know how to ask good questions and follow up skillfully, getting through the layers of rehearsed answers and nervousness, to know a person well enough to make a hiring decision- usually in an hour or less. That takes training. Small adjustments to commonly asked questions can make the difference between solid information and just more bla-bla-bla.
Appoint a hiring leader for your team. This is more than a traditional corporate recruiter, it’s more like a product owner for the hiring process. The hiring leader knows both the company’s business and the recruiting field inside and out, and takes the responsibility for clarity and quality every step of the way, from all perspectives, including the job seeker’s. A good hiring leader will help the hiring manager clarify the role, will remove bottlenecks and be sure the process flows easily.
Convene a hiring team of five people for each position in advance. More than five, and it gets clunky. Fewer than five, and the well-rounded perspective is lost. The same five interviewers should see every candidate for a particular opening. Make sure all the team understands the job they’re interviewing for, are trained interviewers, and can commit the time needed. The hiring manager is always a part of this team. If senior managers or the hiring leader are involved, they should be part of the hiring team.
Schedule quickly. Appoint a scheduler proficient in calendar apps, since scheduling interviews is like putting together a complex puzzle. All phone interviews and assessments should be completed within a week of contacting a candidate. Then, schedule no more than two rounds of face to face interviews with the five members of the hiring team.
Wrap-up. Schedule a fifteen-minute in-person or virtual wrap meeting for the hiring team immediately after the final round of face-to-face interviews. Each member of the hiring team should express their thoughts candidly and succinctly. The final decision belongs to the hiring manager. Be prepared to make a decision on each candidate individually. Don’t be afraid to hire the first person you interview, or if no one makes you say “wow”, don’t be afraid to say no to all the candidates and start over. Be decisive; recognize what you need when you see it. You don’t want to lose great people because you thought you had to see a few more candidates.
Proactively source. Hiring is one of the most important jobs a manager has. Both hiring managers and recruiters should spend 10% of their time sourcing passive candidates. Not because you have an opening, but because you know you will eventually have an opening. Then when you have a need you can reach out directly, and it’s not a cold call, it’s a continuation of an earlier conversation. Maybe even with a friend!
Partner up. Hiring partners can help. Sourcing, phone interviews and even the work of the hiring leader can be outsourced. While many companies have had mixed success with contingency recruiting, a new model of partnership can be a more cost-effective and successful approach.
The whole process from first contact to wrap-up should be no longer than two weeks. No recruiting black holes for your great company, and prospective employees will give their candidate experience top ratings whether they are hired or not. Award-winning companies often are rated highly on their interview processes by job seekers. Some examples include Dignity Health, Charles Schwab, USAA, Vanguard, Hyatt Hotels and Synchrony Financial.
Yes, you CAN do it too! And if you find you need some help, BestCompaniesAZ offers consulting services to improve your recruiting and hiring processes. Just reach us to get started!
About the Author
Lee Vikre – Hiring Jedi
A workplace culture maven, writer, and speaker, Lee Vikre has helped numerous companies develop “best company” cultures, gaining recognition at the local and national level. Lee has been called the Jedi Master of hiring because of her exceptional recruiting abilities and friendships with people who love Star Wars. Her favorite activities involve matching people with their dream jobs at award-winning best companies. Lee coaches CEOs but still hasn’t been able to train her three dogs not to bark during conference calls.