The interview process requires a delicate balance. While it’s important to be thorough when vetting candidates, having a process that drags on can cause you to lose your top choice. As a recruiter or hiring manager, it’s important to walk the thin line between quick and effective without letting the quality of your hires decrease.
Knowing which parts of the hiring process to change — or cut entirely — is never easy. But, for the sake of efficiency, you need to make changes that will speed things up. Here are some tips from hiring experts to help you hire quickly without sacrificing quality of hire:
1. Know that great candidates won’t wait
We just found out the hard way how important it is to speed up the hiring process. We were hiring a writer and it took 60 days from application to offer for our chosen candidate. She took another position just a few days before we made the offer. Luckily, we got the next round down to 18 days and found a great candidate.
The experience showed us that speeding up the hiring process is beneficial in a number of ways: you cut down the chance a candidate picks a different company, you can get the person on staff sooner, and it gives you the flexibility to offer some time off before the candidate starts. If you’re trying to speed up the hiring process, my advice would be to attack the downtime between stages of the funnel. Don’t touch the time you’ve allotted to review, discuss, and interview. If you do that, you might be hurting your chance at finding the right candidate.
Henry O’Loughlin, Founder at BuildRemote
2. Consider what the length of the process tells candidates
Many of my clients let too much time pass and they lose the opportunity to interview and hire someone who could potentially be a good fit. The hiring process is also a time when the interviewee is evaluating the company and how they make decisions. For example, if a company takes three weeks to go from scheduling a phone screen to a face-to-face interview, that can tell you about the speed of general decision-making at the organization.
In addition, people’s interests ebb and flow based upon frequency of contact and time in between meetings. The longer you wait to schedule, the more their interest will decrease. No one likes to feel like they were the second choice. You want to continue to cultivate that love affair with your candidate until the deal is sealed.
Laurie Prochnow, President, Management Recruiters of Wausau
3. Have a game plan
Not having an interview game plan is an area that can greatly slow down the hiring process and cause an organization to risk losing a great candidate. Knowing who will be involved in interviewing, the interview methods that will be used — video interviewing is a great tool to create a more meaningful interview experience without actually meeting face-to-face — and what the interviewers will cover in the interview are key.
However, not all interviewers do a thorough job with initial screening of candidates. It’s important up front for hiring managers and recruiters to have a strong understanding of the role and its requirements to be sure to screen for the right fit.
Alina Shaffer, Director, Human Resources, Talent Management, and Talent Acquisition at Teco Energy
4. Cut down on time between interviews, but not reference checks
The interviews are where things slow down — employers are taking too long to schedule interviews and dragging their feet in between the interviews. In some cases, they’re doing too many interviews. We don’t have an issue with employers being certain about who they are hiring, but it would be good if employers would be more creative in how they interview candidates.
Rather than having numerous interviews (sometimes days apart), companies should commit to ensuring all the appropriate decision-makers are available on one day and do all of the needed interviews in the same day. Then quickly do the debriefs to make a hiring decision.
Where employers can’t cut corners, however, is during background and reference checks. Make a contingent offer, get the appropriate waiver to do the background checks, and then do the reference, background, and social media checks. Don’t skip this step. Use someone who does not have an emotional connection to the outcome of the hire for the best results.
Sharon DeLay, Owner and President, BoldlyGO HR
5. Make decisions more efficiently
In the interview process, it often takes too long to make final decisions. Saying a candidate is a “maybe” gets you nowhere. Create a system of how you decide; check off boxes for the most necessary skills, use a numerical rating system, or even go with your gut. Whatever it is, remember that thinking about a decision more doesn’t mean you’ll make the better choice in the end. There will always be things you never anticipated about the person — good and bad.
Sandy Charet, President, Charet & Associates
This post was updated in January 2023