Pitfalls that Stifle Your Hiring Efficiency
If you were to take a poll of 1,000 HR Professionals and Recruiters right now, and ask them to describe their recruiting experience so far this year, I guarantee you, that description would likely resemble the soundtrack to The Exorcist — moaning, groaning, gnashing of teeth and the occasional expletive. This is a tough market. Most people are working, few people are actively looking. Ads are pulling in less and less candidates, yet the ad services keep increasing prices. Agencies and recruiting firms are resembling automatic pitching machines being fed by the dumpster behind the Golden Corral. Candidate quality is suffering and companies are being forced to pay more for less to fill a seat. If your selection process is not top notch, you’re courting disaster.
Over the past few months, I have run into this issue often enough that I am compelled to expose it to the harsh light of public scrutiny. Time and again I have seen high quality, excellent candidates lost due to an inefficient hiring process. Companies have these people in their office, interested, qualified, available and they fumble the ball. How do they fumble the ball, the astute reader might ask? The reasons are numerous. Some of the fixes are easy. Some of the fixes require work. A person would need their own four-part blog series to sort through this mess.
A legend in the industry once said, “The company who processes candidates with expediency and professionalism wins.” In an effort to start at the beginning, let’s look at some fairly common practices that foil and confound the efficiency of your hiring.
Eat Your P’s
Poor prescreening practices are a primary reason we lose great candidates. We are assuming your ads are professional works of marketing art and drawing in adequate candidate traffic. How you handle these eager respondents to your opportunity is crucial. Quickly is the operative word. However, reality shows that most candidates languish in the limbo of no response, sometimes for weeks. Worse yet, some never get looked at at all. Remember, this is the beginning of the candidate experience.
Proper prescreening presumes that you’ve prepared a program of pre-approved professional points proven to prevail in the proffered position. Simply, you better know what you’re looking for. Create a 5-point checklist. Rip through the resumes. Candidates that meet the criteria get a phone screen scheduled pronto. Candidates that don’t pass muster get a professional rejection letter with the promise to keep their resume on file for future roles. If you don’t get your successful phone-screened candidates on-site for interviews within 3 to 5 days, you’re risking, well, disaster.
Inspect What’s Expected
Unrealistic expectations are another major pitfall that companies fall into again and again. The days of having one person fill three roles due to a plethora of willing workers with few jobs to choose from are long gone. And I mean gone, like your connecting flight, like woolly mammoth kind of gone. Hiring managers now must carefully evaluate exactly what they need in a new hire. They need to realistically consider what specific experience and qualities this person must have to be productive and successful. This is not as easy as it sounds. This requires buy-in from management. And management is notorious for the dreaded “wish-list”. As a professional recruiter in markets both great and terrible, I’ve had countless conversations with hiring managers that stray into the “It would be great if you would find a person who could……” Launching into a wild fantasy of a profile that couldn’t exist ever, anywhere. And trust me, there were years where I could find you a one-legged nun who spoke Portuguese if you needed one. Yet hiring managers consistently went above and beyond the realm of fantasy in their expectations. So understand what you need, shoot for the minimum and quickly pounce on the candidate that might bring more to the table.
In the same way you would prepare for houseguests, companies need to prepare for the interview process. The candidate experience is a reflection on you and the prospective workplace. We are assuming the hiring managers, higher management and the team are all on the same page as to the profile you hope to find. All parties that will be involved in the interview process need to meet and discuss what a good candidate should look like. They need to agree on availability and timing. They need to discuss what questions they will ask during the interview so time is not wasted on duplicates. They also need to understand their role in the process. Are they included simply to evaluate the candidate on relevant skills and demeanor? Are they part of the vetting process, NOT the hiring process? Everyone should know their role. Relying on team votes for a hire is the surest way to fail on an epic level. Let me repeat that. Team votes are the bane of productivity. Hiring decisions should be made by one or 2 direct managers max, with a brief meeting and handshake from upper level management as a courtesy. But that’s a topic for another time. For now, just develop a quick and expeditious interview process, please.
Consistency in your search is paramount. Inconsistency kills successful hiring. Hold fast to your agreed-upon criteria. Hang tight to your process. Don’t change your expectations. We’ve all seen hiring managers change the job description mid-stream in the course of a search. We’ve seen hiring managers introduce a new test, or a new stake-holder, or a new “must have” to the process. This disrupts the flow and the results of your search. Don’t let it happen. Be consistent in your process and requirements. In addition, and not necessarily incongruous with this rule, I would suggest flexibility. You know what you need. You know how you’re going to qualify and process your candidates. You also need an open mind as to how a candidate might fill your role. Never reject an overqualified candidate. Never reject an underqualified candidate that brings something extra to the game whether that be drive, alternate experience or useful knowledge outside of the spec. We’ll talk more about this in future posts.
So finally, understanding and avoiding the pitfalls above is a huge factor in optimizing your hiring process. In doing so, we will be fostering an environment dedicated to:
- Efficient Prescreening
- Realistic Expectations
- Clean and Fast Processing
Catch me next time when I will pick apart the details surrounding the Art of Preplanning for a Hire.
About the author
Patrick McLaughlin is a Talent Acquisition Industry Professional. He owns all the scars and accolades a successful 25-year career in recruiting can bestow. Patrick has created and coached high-performing recruiting teams and is a trainer in bullet-proof recruiting fundamentals. Most recently, as the Director of Recruiting Services at MEA, he has developed a core selection of Recruiting Products designed to alleviate MEA Member’s growing pains when it comes to Job Posting, Sourcing, Recruitment and Supplemental Staffing. Contact Pat for further details, or if you need a one-legged nun who speaks Portuguese.