Home » 5 Strategies to Improve Your Hiring Process
When was the last time you evaluated your hiring process? If it’s been a minute, now may be a good time to revisit your strategy and operations to improve your hiring process.
Research released in June 2023 revealed that the average time-to-hire rate was 44 days in Q1 2023 (PR Newswire, 2023). This is up one full day from the previous year. Some industries are seeing time-to-hire rates beyond 60 days.
What is your company’s current time to hire? Regardless if it’s above or below the national average, how does it compare to your company’s previous years?
If your recruiting team is facing longer hiring spans, what needs to happen to get your hiring process back to its optimal function? We pulled together a few ideas to get you started.
While not an exhaustive list, here are five key strategies to improve your hiring process:
1. Fine-tune your job descriptions.
A job description can be the first touchpoint a potential new employee makes with your company. It outlines essential functions of the job, manages expectations and offers a glimpse into your work environment. Maybe most important, it can also attract the right candidate for your open role.
Rather than roughly updating a past description for a new job opening, revise the verbiage to better speak to your ideal candidate. Be specific, informative and direct, highlighting must-haves like primary responsibilities and required competencies. This not only provides clarity for potential applicants but also explicitly defines the expectations from the hiring team.
Ambiguous job descriptions confuse applicants, which inevitably leaves your hiring teams with more work — filtering through those confused applicants who don’t even adequately fit the roles you need to fill.
That’s not to say you won’t still get applicants that don’t fit the bill, but you can eliminate confusion by simply sharing clear and accurate job descriptions.
Plus, when you revisit the job requirements before selecting a candidate for hire, you won’t confuse yourself or your hiring team.
2. Standardize your application and interview process.
Consider all of the big and small steps your team takes, from posting a job to interviewing a potential candidate. You may have found ways to optimize certain aspects of this process, but unless it’s fully streamlined, you leave room for inefficiencies and human error. Defining and documenting all steps ensures a fair, consistent and efficient process.
The application process
While you may want to test critical thinking of applicants, it is important to do it at the right time. Don’t overdo it upfront by overcomplicating applications. Lengthy, tedious applications can deter qualified candidates, especially when they feel like they’re shelling out seemingly irrelevant details.
As much as a job description forms a first impression of your company, an application is sometimes the first interaction a potential candidate makes with your company. Use applications to get the necessary information to make prompt decisions about candidates, and save the deeper details for the interview. Another benefit of this is that it reduces the amount of time your team must spend reviewing applications. The application should be designed to pull in enough information to make a decision as to whether or not candidates meet your minimum qualifications.
The interview process
You can standardize your interview process by spelling out answers to questions like:
How long will our interviews last?
Have we clearly defined the structure and timing for our interviews?
How many interviews will we conduct? Who needs to be involved and at which interviews?
Will a panel interview be conducted?
Whose input is essential to our hiring decisions?
Who will communicate with candidates throughout the process? How often and when will this person communicate with the candidate?
How quickly will the hiring manager need to make decisions?
Evaluate how long your current interview process takes. If it spans three or four weeks, what can be done to condense it to one or two weeks?
Whether you have these details clearly outlined or not, you likely already have the answers based on your current processes. Don’t be afraid to critique your existing process to make it function more effectively. Make adjustments, then get it in writing so that everyone involved in the hiring process is on the same page. Develop checklists, guidelines, and templates.
Of course, more steps follow applications and interviews, but standardizing these portions can improve your hiring process. Any good process requires additional work to get up and running, but the upfront commitment is soon rewarded with smoother operations and valuable time savings.
3. Leverage an applicant tracking system (ATS).
When utilized correctly, a robust applicant tracking system can rapidly improve your hiring process. The right ATS can be an incredible tool, made to support your hiring process. It’s easy to look at all an ATS can accomplish for you, but don’t let the bright and shiny features distract you from your company’s unique hiring process.
Before you implement an ATS, make sure you’re crystal clear on your ideal process. If you work backwards — by first striving to implement all the nifty functions offered by an ATS provider — you risk bogging down your process instead of making it work more efficiently. A new ATS might reveal great features to implement, but remember to make it support your ideal process rather than unnecessarily adding to it.
If you’re on the hunt for an applicant tracking system, check out our resources page to download our free ATS scorecard, which can help you weigh your options.
4. Amplify your internal referral program.
Presumably, your existing employees understand what it takes to succeed within your company, and ideally, you’ll want to bring in more people with that same work ethic and ability to deliver. Encourage your employees to refer interested individuals who would be potential fits for your company.
Tapping into your staff for referrals can reduce the cost of recruitment. Not only do you reap the benefits of a hand-selected candidate but that candidate also comes in primed with the knowledge of your company and culture because of the connection to the existing employee.
As is with many scenarios, money is a great motivator, but you can also get creative with other incentives, like awarding points that can be redeemed for a prize or giving special recognition at a meeting or annual banquet.
Bonus: Programs like this engage and retain your talent. As your people advocate for your organization, they’re often reminded why they joined in the first place and what has kept them involved.
When you’re tight on time and zoned in on other tasks, communication can unintentionally be the first to go. Make a concerted effort to maintain straightforward communication with your internal team AND with candidates.
As you standardize your team processes, account for stages where key players need to touch base with one another. At some points, this will require in-depth meetings, but in other cases, a two-minute update or desk pop-by will do the trick. Communication doesn’t have to be drawn out and extensive to be effective for your hiring process.
Additionally, keep your candidates notified about where they are in the hiring process. In recent years, recruiters have been called out for ghosting candidates. Avoid this pitfall by designating specific points for candidate follow-up. Again, automate and standardize this process! Your messages to candidates can still be personalized and intentional without reinventing the wheel with each new hire.
Among your hiring team, set a maximum number of days for not communicating with a candidate. If you reach that threshold and still have no news, follow up with your candidate anyway! Tell them the process is still underway and that you will keep them posted as soon as you know more. This may feel arbitrary to you, but for a candidate waiting to hear about a position, this communication is a lifeline.
Each scheduled communication point sprinkles clarity throughout your hiring process. This often results in fewer interruptions — “Hey, I just remembered we need to discuss XYZ!” — and increased productivity, as team members understand their parts in the clearly-defined hiring process.
Optimize your hiring today
Even if your time-to-hire rate is steady, there are still other metrics to consider and you really can’t go wrong with making plans to improve your hiring process. Indeed suggests that teams evaluate their recruiting processes every six months, but pick a cadence that makes sense for your organization.
Which strategies do you need to implement to improve your hiring process today? Let us know what’s worked for you and your teams!
If you need more help improving your hiring process, we’d love to help. Beacon Lane specializes in End-to-End Recruitment Optimization, which starts with a comprehensive diagnostic and a c-suite ready, go-forward strategy that results in valuable cost savings.