How to Optimize Your Hiring Process and Make Better Hires


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The hiring process is undoubtedly one of the most important processes within any businesses. Having the right people in place is essential to deliver on business strategies and to drive the company forward.

Article 6 Minutes
How to Optimize Your Hiring Process and Make Better Hires

Hiring strategies vary from one business to the next. Some businesses have an in-house end-to-end recruiting team, while other companies opt to use third-party recruiting agencies.

There are pros and cons of both approaches, but if you want to find the best candidate for the role, it’s essential to make the hiring process as seamless as possible.

Why hiring the right employee is important

Working in HR, you probably know why it is so important to hire the right employee. However, like most business processes, the landscape changes on a regular basis. Innovative hiring processes are always being tested and the most effective hiring strategies get modified regularly.

It is often said that employees are what differentiates a company from its competitors. You can buy the best technology and equipment and set up the most efficient working processes, but your people do the rest. If your organization wants their brand to stand out for delivering excellent customer service or for being innovators in the industry, then your employees must reflect that vision to the outside world.

If we look at Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, as an example, in many interviews he describes the importance of looking after your staff and having the right people. His 7 hiring rules include:

  1. Personality wins over book smarts
  2. New hires do not have to fit in right away
  3. Go for experience and transferable skills rather than qualifications
  4. Define your company’s purpose to attract the right people
  5. Leaders should hire to fill their own weaknesses
  6. Internal promotion should be favored over external recruiting
  7. Avoid bulk hiring where possible

Having a clearly defined purpose will help applicants determine whether they are the right fit for your company and vice versa. Having strong company values will help applicants to build an idea of what your company culture is like and what key characteristics you’re looking for in a future employee.

A lot of companies make the mistake of trying to quickly fill roles where they experience high turnover. Unfortunately, this can result in hiring candidates who aren’t the best fit, and may leave the role quickly or not perform well. The issue might not be their skills and experience, but may be their lack of motivation to get the job done. Recruiting is better when handled from a long-term perspective rather than to plug gaps when required.

High turnover of employees results in huge, avoidable costs and can occur for a number of reasons. Whilst there are cost variances from industry to industry and role to role, according to SHRM, the average cost per hire for companies is $4,129 and it takes around 42 days to fill a position. Taking these costs into consideration, it’s important to place the right person in your open role.

Learn more: 5 Recruitment Metrics You Shouldn't Ignore

How the hiring process works

The recruiting experts at The Balance Careers break the process down into three phases:

  • Planning
  • Recruiting
  • Employee selection

To expand on the process, a set of six main steps comprise the full hiring process:

Step 1: Resource planning/identifying a vacancy

Resource planning helps you decide when a role needs to be filled. For example, many companies have a dedicated team that uses software to make resource planning decisions that can be determined by call volume. Once the requirement to hire for a role has been decided, either through an employee leaving or increased workload forecasting, the hiring manager will usually acquire sign-off from the relevant person to approve the hire.

Step 2: Job specification/description

Usually the hiring manager and HR manager would review the existing job specification or create a new one if necessary. If there have been issues for the role, such as high turnover, this could be a sign that the job description was not effective in outlining the role to applicants. Spending time accurately outlining the role’s requirements and responsibilities is essential.

Step 3: Recruiting plan

This could be a blended approach of advertising through an agency website, company website, and searching for candidates on online job boards or through recruiting services like Indeed Hire. The more places you advertise and search, the better your chances are of attracting the perfect candidate.

Depending on the type of role, you may want to establish a recruiting committee that includes the hiring manager, HR or recruiting manager, a job specialist and someone who will be working closely with the role holder. While your interview panel would generally only include a few of these individuals, the screening process can be done collaboratively to ensure different business priorities and perspectives are considered.

Step 4: Interview shortlist/application screening

Once the role has been posted and searches conducted, the hiring team should create a shortlist of candidates. If you have large numbers of job applicants then it is quicker to use an applicant tracking system to filter the responses. According to Jobscan, 90% of Fortune 500 companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to save time in the reviewing of resumes.

How applicant tracking systems work

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are based around keywords that are relevant to the role and will filter the ones with the most matched keywords to the top of the pile. An ATS is also a great way of managing the application process from start to finish and to provide better communication to keep candidates updated on their application status.

Step 5: Interview and assessment

Once interview invitations have been sent out, the next part of the process is the actual interview and any relevant assessments. Depending on the role and number of good applicants, you may want to conduct a telephone interview before the final applicants are invited to interview. This is particularly relevant for roles that will be telephone-based or require strong verbal communication.

You may also want to use a form of assessment to see how candidates perform with a typical task. This will be specific to the role type, but psychometric tests, presentations and case studies can all be considered in addition to the interview questions. For example, if you are recruiting an analyst to produce monthly reports, then set them up with a test version of the task to perform.

If your company operates with competency-based questions then this will be the format for the interview. If you do not already have a set of questions to work with, research examples from a variety of reputable sources.

Remember when selecting your questions, one of the key considerations is the potential long-term growth of an applicant. Identify whether a job applicant will last a long time with the company, whether they work well with others, have leadership skills and whether they go above what is asked. One person in the panel should be taking notes to ensure all details are recorded.

Step 6: Selection and offer

The results of the interview should hopefully provide you with a clear candidate. If you are split between candidates then you may want to take more time to review candidate profiles and other evidence of their credentials. Then you can make an offer and hopefully bring on board a valuable employee with a long-term future at the company. Make sure to plan a great onboarding program for the new employee, as their first impression of the company and their early engagement will have a lot of impact on their long-term relationship with the business.

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