As a founder and CEO of a services business, I know how difficult it can be to find and retain talent. Getting the right people in the right seats doing the right things is a challenge when growing and even more so when growing quickly.
As a CEO, I was involved in recruiting well over 250 people (some of them I had to fire too). As a business coach, I've worked with many companies to help them create recruiting strategies. I've worked on many different hiring processes for all sorts of roles and there are a few common mistakes I see. Here are my suggestions.
1. Move critical questions to the front.
One of the most common problems is that candidates make it far in the process and then fall out of the funnel toward the end. The result is that valuable time is spent on candidates that don't actually get offers. Instead, a good recruiting process filters out non-target candidates early in order to spend time on those who have a high probability of making it to the offer stage.
One of the best ways to do this is to find the questions that cause the drop off and move them to the beginning of the funnel. For example, if you have a strict dress code and it turns people off, make that topic one of your first conversations and invite people to remove themselves from the process if it doesn't align with their expectations. Front loading these topics creates a more efficient hiring funnel.
2. Automate the process.
Once you have a process that works, find ways of automating as many of the steps as possible. While you still want to create a high-touch experience, you can often find easy ways to automate steps through scripts, videos, outsourced services, and templates.
For example, when hiring analyst roles, make a simple test to measure excel proficiency. Have candidates create a video of them completing the exercise and submit the file. We trained virtual assistants on how to score the videos and we would only interview people that scored a minimum level. We also created videos that candidates could watch about the company and the role before coming in for in-person interviews.
3. Have candidates self-filter.
Another advantage of automating the process and creating content for candidates to view on their own is that they can self-filter out of the process. If you know what type of person fits well in your company and what skills are needed for success, be clear and upfront about those. Having candidates filter themselves out of the process saves you time and money.
An example of this is Zappos. They offered $2,000 to new people to leave training and quit. The idea was that if someone was there just for the money, it would be better off if they left.
4. Focus on speed.
If you're in a competitive job market, speed can be one of your best strategies. If your processes takes weeks and you leave the candidate waiting, they are more likely to find a position in the interim. Keeping your process short and clearly communicating to the candidate throughout will reduce the chances they get swept up by a competing firm.
5. Create real-world working scenarios.
Often I see people in interviews ask hypothetical questions or come up with ideal scenarios. While it might be fun to put a candidate through these exercises, it typically doesn't correlate well with actual performance. Instead, capture real-world scenarios and have them work through them.
For one client, we had candidates come in for a half day and sit in on a team meeting and work with some of the folks on a real project. Even though they didn't have much background, seeing how they conducted themself, the questions they asked, and ideas they contributed told us a lot, and it told us much more than sitting in a conference room asking them questions would tell us.
6. Don't end the interview on hire.
Many companies get to the point of hire and then assume that interviewing is over. My suggestion is that you think of your recruiting process as extending three to six months into the employment period. It's not until you have them working with real people on real problems that you'll see how they perform. Set clear monthly goals for new hires and hold regular reviews to give feedback. If need be, make adjustments to the role and don't be afraid to terminate if you realize it was a bad hire.
Your business growth and scalability is highly dependant on bringing in and keeping the right talent. Investing in your hiring and onboarding process is not a small investment, but it's one that, when done right, will pay out handsomely over time.