Hausmann Group November 2, 2016 9 min read

Streamline Recruiting to Catch Great Candidates

Has this happened to you? You call your top candidate to extend a job offer, only to find out that they just accepted another job elsewhere.

Or this:  You schedule an interview with a great candidate, but before the interview date arrives, you get an email saying they accepted another job.

Or:  You have three great resumes, and none of them return your calls/emails. They applied just two days ago.

Recruiting is hard.  Your applicant pool is shrinking, and when you do find a great candidate, your chances of losing them are getting higher.   You want to speed up your recruiting process, but you don’t want to rush and make a poor hiring decision.  What do you do?

recruiting top candidates

It starts with careful planning and preparation, and involves working closely with your hiring manager.

Know what you are looking for

This is the golden rule in recruiting.  Your first step should be to work with the hiring manager to update the job description.  But take that one step further and create a list of critical traits and skills.  Look at your star employees.  What are their competencies and character traits?  You don’t want all of your employees to be alike, but identify a few key characteristics that are crucial for your team and your company.  Things like teamwork, problem solving skills, and customer service mentality (not just skills) transcend age, gender, race, etc.  

You also want to segment your must-have skills versus your nice-to-have (trainable) skills.  Work with the hiring manager to curb his/her expectations, so you don’t end up looking for a purple squirrel.  Identify which skills can be trained, and which really are required from day one. 

Avoid Comparisons

Do you have a manager who likes to compare candidates?   This can be a huge waste of time, if you’ve already found a great candidate.   Interviewing for the sake of comparison is fine for new managers who have little interviewing experience.  But if the manager has gone through the hiring process before, then she can compare the current candidate with prior interviews.   Don’t interview just to interview.   Good candidates aren’t on the market long.  By the time you interview your second person, the first might have a job offer from your competitor.   Talk with your hiring manager about evaluating each candidate against your hiring criteria.  Make the hiring decision one person at a time.   If you have two great candidates coming in, great, take the time to meet them both.  Likewise, if no one you have met is quite right, keep looking.  But if you have a great candidate, don’t go through your “maybe” pile just for the sake of comparison. 

Set Timelines

Get your hiring manager to commit to quick turnaround times.  After a resume comes in, you commit to getting the good ones to the manager within, say, two days.  And the manager commits to giving you feedback on those resumes within two days. If the manager cannot or will not make recruiting a real priority, you’ll waste your time, frustrate a lot of applicants, and lose out on some great people.  If the manager’s calendar is a mess, put interview holds on his calendar, several days out, so when you are ready to schedule interviews, you already have some time slots reserved that are coming up soon.

Streamline the process

Phone screens take less time than scheduling and holding in-person interviews.  So work with your manager to develop a short list of questions to help you narrow the field.  Save your face to face time for people that you know are strong candidates.  Another way to shorten the process is to make the application process easier.   Do you make people slog through a lengthy online application?   How many people drop out halfway through the process, never to be heard from again?   If possible, be willing to accept a resume, a link to their LinkedIn profile, or a shortened application to get started.  If you decide they are worth an interview, then ask them to do the full application, maybe in the days before or just after the interview.     

Finally, look at your interview process.  How many people really need to be involved?  Really.  Some companies put candidates through 6, 8 or even more visits. What is the impression this candidate is getting about this kind of organization?   If multiple people need to meet the person, do it in groups of two or three, and try to have the candidate meet as many people as possible in each visit.  Having to schedule multiple visits with multiple people adds a lot of time to the process.  So look critically at who really needs to meet the candidate, and how you can streamline the process. 

Great candidates won’t wait long for a company to get to an offer decision.  They’ll get an offer elsewhere and move on.  The key to efficient hiring is to be prepared, know what you are looking for, and find ways to streamline the process.  If you can make your process more efficient, you’ll be catching those great hires, instead of watching them walk away!

Caveat:  Companies operating under an Affirmative Action plan may need to follow certain recruiting practices that don’t fit with the advice in this article.  I am not recommending that you circumvent the Affirmative Action guidelines.  But even within an AA plan, there may be area that can be streamlined.