Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
A Step-By-Step Guide to Hiring Process Success

A Step-By-Step Guide to Hiring Process Success

The No. 1 hiring manager skill for 2020 is decisiveness, according to a recent report from Gartner. The report defines the quality as “focusing on prioritizing future talent needs, broadening the candidate funnel, and sharing hiring decisions with experts across the organization.” 

During the study, Gartner’s team found decisive hiring pros were most successful in acquiring high-quality talent. In fact, in 2018, the average time between the initial job interview and the hiring manager extending an offer was 33 days—an 84% increase since 2010. As expected, they found the prolonged decision-making stage has caused a 16% reduction in candidates accepting offers.

No company can afford slower processes or a reduction in high-quality new hires. However, decisiveness isn’t a quality that solves your hiring problems all on its own. You need a powerful and effective process in place to be confident in your final hiring decisions. 

Keep reading to find out how you can improve each step of the hiring process and become a confident, decisive hiring pro: 

The planning stage

No two roles are identical. Every open position requires a unique talent sourcing and hiring plan. You need specifics on how to share open roles, who is on the hiring team, criteria for candidate screening, what the interview process looks like, who will perform the interviews, and so on. 

When a new role opens, it’s critical you get your entire hiring team on the same page. Discuss why the position is needed and how it will impact the overall business to help decision-makers effectively develop a strategy for acquiring the precise talent you need. 

Analyze and improve

Identify key metrics your team will measure throughout the entire hiring process. If you haven’t already, you should measure candidate satisfaction, time-to-hire, offer acceptance, and quality of candidates. 

Understanding these metrics ensures your team knows where they need to make improvements by revealing which steps are inefficient, where there are gaps in identifying quality candidates, and whether the candidate experience is lacking. Making continual improvements helps you evaluate and improve this initial step each time a role opens, meaning you always have a solid strategy when going into the hiring process. 

The process of writing job ads

Many hiring pros mistakenly believe sourcing, recruiting, and interviewing are the most important hiring process steps. However, writing catching advertising materials is the critical step that sets the stage for hiring success. 

The descriptions in your job ads create the first impression candidates have of your open roles and company. If job listings don’t include accurate information or brand your culture in the right way, you end up with fewer skilled applicants and ill-fitting cultural matches. 

You should have team members weigh-in to confirm your job descriptions clearly reveal the most critical details, such as a prioritized list of requirements and responsibilities, unique qualifications, desired personal characteristics, and key company culture clues. 

Once you craft the final description for each role, promote it on your social media sites, job boards, and at job fairs. But don’t forget about the effectiveness of passing job details through your network and employee referrals.  

Analyze and improve

Compare the wording of roles that have a quick fill-rate to those sitting longer. Consider these questions: 

  • Did a different hiring team member write each job description? 
  • What is their experience with the role?
  • What is the tone of the most successful job ads? 
  • Are there specific masculine or feminine identifying words?
  • What is the impact of those words on the number of applicants and quality-of-hire? 
  • Are the jobs advertised on the same platforms? 
  • What is the most successful platform or referral source?

You can also have candidates to perform a short survey after completing an application. Ask questions regarding what drew them to the role based on the job description and what, if anything, made them consider not applying.

If you find your job descriptions aren’t hitting your target, use a tool like Gender Decoder to assist in writing your ads. A gender decoder tool decreases subtle language shifts to identify more both with men and women, which increases the number of quality applicants for each role.  

The sourcing process

Once your job description is live and you’ve asked employees to send referrals your way, it’s time to dig your heels in and actively source for the position. You’ll want to use social media networks to identify qualified potential candidates. 

Active sourcing puts you in front of passive candidates who wouldn’t have looked for, let alone applied to your open roles based on your job ads alone. 

Analyze and improve

Research where your target candidates spend their time. Some candidates are active in LinkedIn and Facebook groups unique to their roles. Others, such as creatives, are more likely to showcase their work on platforms like Instagram. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your outlets, determine what’s most important to the specific candidates you want to attract. For example, according to a 2017 LinkedIn report, candidates want to know job details (89%), salary range (72%), a company overview (69%), why they fit in the company (54%), and company culture (40%) all in your first outreach attempt. 

Connect with current employees to find out what they love most about the company, what enticed them to apply, and where your team could improve new candidates’ initial experiences. Use their comments to evolve your outreach strategy with top talents’ changing needs so you can better target the candidates you want to hire.  

The application review

There’s a good chance you already use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to collect applications and track where applicants are in the process. Even though you still have human resource representatives weeding out those who don’t meet the minimum requirements, the process can seem to go on forever. But once you’ve narrowed down applications to a few qualified candidates, it’s time to gather the rest of your hiring team to determine who you want to invite to interview. 

Analyze and improve

Analyze what makes current employees successful in their roles. Determine their defining skills, experiences, and personality traits to create a short checklist your team can compare against applications. It’s important not to narrow your applicant selection too far during this stage. 

For example, if a candidates’ skills and accomplishments are in line with your hiring needs but they have questionable experience gaps or education, you may want to put them through to the initial screening process to identify soft skills and culture fit potential. 

The initial screening

While you’re eager to skip straight to the in-person interviews, early screening interviews are your team’s opportunity to assess candidates beyond their application materials. While adding an additional step seems counter-intuitive to decreasing time-to-hire, this is a critical step in saving time and resources in the hiring process. 

This is where you determine how each candidate aligns with the company’s culture and values and if the company and position align with candidates’ expectations. 

Analyze and improve

If you’re already using an early screening process or tool, use these questions to determine if your initial screening process quickly and effectively identifies the best-fitting talent and where it needs improvements: 

  • How well can your team collaborate during this critical stage? 
  • Are you able to clearly identify a candidate’s soft skills and personality? 
  • Are candidates engaged and receiving a real feel for your company culture before moving deeper into the hiring funnel? 
  • How long does the screening process take? 

If you conclude your screening process is lacking in any of these areas, look at updating your screening tools, such as adding video interviews to your process. A simple tool like a one-way video interview decreases screening time and improves the candidate experience. Candidates can answer structured interview questions on their own time, and your team can review and make notes at any point throughout the process to improve collaboration. 

Most importantly, video interviews give your team the power to clearly identify a candidate’s soft skills during the earliest stages of the hiring process. One-way video interviews put candidates’ personalities and people-skills directly in front of your entire team for evaluation long before an in-person interview. 

The interviews process

Depending on the size of your organization and the type of role, you may need to go through many interview rounds. Each of these interviews offers more in-depth insight into a candidates’ experience, skills, work history, personality, and availability. This is also your hiring team’s opportunity to discuss career growth and future potential with candidates to see if their expectations and the company’s future align.  

Analyze and improve

Look to your metrics to see how many candidates drop out of your interview process on average. Refer to application and post-interview surveys to learn more about the candidate experience, the effectiveness of your communication, and how satisfied candidates are with the timelapse from application to interview. 

An important metric to analyze is how much time you spend going back and forth, coordinating schedules. Implement an interview scheduling tool designed specifically for the hiring process to decrease this time and frustration for both your hiring team and candidates. 

Prepare standardized interview questions for each step in the process to ensure you’re consistently revealing critical information about talent. The majority of hiring pros (80%) in a 2019 LinkedIn trend report say soft skills are increasingly crucial to company success. However, successfully and fairly identifying soft skills relies on using the same behavioral and situational questions across every candidate. 

In addition to standard questions, further enhance the process with live video interviews. Candidates still have personal interview experiences, getting face-to-face time with hiring managers while cutting down on the number of times they have to travel to your office. Your team can also collaborate, even if schedules don’t align thanks to remote viewing and recording capabilities.

The offer to onboarding stage

After wrapping up interview evaluations, your team decides on a candidate, and you begin the background and reference check process. If those return with no red flags, an offer letter is sent, and the candidate has the opportunity to negotiate the terms of their offer. 

Unfortunately, there’s a chance you won’t get to onboard the same candidate you sent your initial offer. In fact, Jobvite’s 2019 Job Seeker Nation Report revealed an eight-point increase to 19% of workers who say they have turned down a job after accepting an offer, before their first day. And approximately 67% of employers reported almost a quarter of new hires do not show up after accepting a position in a 2018 CareerBuilder survey

To keep candidates interested, you must continue to nurture them throughout the offer and onboarding process. During this time, your team sends W-4 and I-9 forms, state withholdings and registrations, a checklist with all paperwork and due dates, and the employee handbook. This process can be overwhelming. The human connection should not be lost. New hires need to continue to see the value in joining your team.

Nevertheless, this also means your team should be prepared to choose a runner-up candidate. If no one comes close to your first choice, you need to decide if the hiring process will start over and how you will improve it for the next round. 

Analyze and improve

Track the number of candidates who turn down your initial offer or accept and then turn down the offer. Analyze this information to determine which part of the process is turning talent off based on why and when they turn the offer down. 

Are they leaving during negotiations? This means you need to be more flexible when possible. Are other companies sending more enticing offers? If so, you need to analyze if your company is offering reasonable pay, benefits, growth opportunities, and other essential workplace factors. 

You may be extending offers to candidates who already accepted positions. When you identify this issue, dig deep into your hiring process to see where you can cut down time-to-hire. 

As mentioned, the candidate experience extends through the onboarding process. How you engage and nurture your new hires sets them up for future success. It also sets the overall sentiment they’ll have of the company throughout their employment. 

Customize the transition between the hiring and onboarding process to continue standing out above competitors. Show candidates they’re valued members of the team already. Welcome new employees by sending a video message before their set start date. Show them the personal side of your company to make them feel welcomed and encourage them to follow through with their commitment to your team.


Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 5,000+ customers in over 100 countries.