How to Improve Your Hiring Process

Hiring is a lot like fishing. You can go years without catching anything, but once you do it’s an amazing feeling! However, hiring the wrong person can be detrimental to your company and leave you with nothing but regret.

As a manager, hiring is also one of the most important responsibilities you have. Stop right here and understand why you need to learn to interview and hire better.

What makes this problem worse is managers are not given the training to become better interviewers. That’s why most company’s hiring process sucks.

But there is good news. If you realize that you need to get better at hiring, there are simple steps that you can take to improve that process which would not only help you hire the right person, but also help you retain your existing team.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Hiring Process

To improve your hiring process, you need to first evaluate it. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the steps in your hiring or interview process? What are the steps you as the hiring manager need to take? What are the steps applicants need to take?
  • What is the timeline for each step?
  • How do you evaluate candidates?
  • How do you decide who to hire?
  • How much does this entire process cost the company?
  • What are the steps you need to take if you hired the wrong person? Would legal need to be involved? How would you fire this new hire if he/she doesn’t perform up to standards? How much would that wrong hire cost?

If you do not know the answers to these questions at the top of your head or if you don’t have a way to find out then that is the first place you should start.

The most basic management principle is what you cannot measure you cannot manage. Spend a few minutes right now or schedule it in your calendar later this week to find the answers to these questions.

Write down the answers on a notebook, a spreadsheet, or whatever document that you have access to at the moment. You don’t need to search for templates. You don’t need to ask HR or other people. Simply document what you know right now.

Once you have evaluated your current process, you can identify areas where you can make improvements. Perhaps you can shorten the timeline for each step, or make it easier for candidates to apply. You may also want to consider changing the way you evaluate candidates, or how you decide who to hire.

Step 2: Identify Areas Where You Can Improve

This step is when you unleash all your creativity. It’s where you resolve the frustrations you’ve had to go through when interviewing applicants. This is the part where you go back to when you were the applicant and look at things that you hated.

The irony that you’d often see in the entire interview process is that once the applicant is accepted into the company, promoted, became a manager, and now on the other side of the table, all the frustrations they’ve had as an applicant are still there. The only difference is they are the ones making it.

For example, the most common complaint of interview applicants is the lack of transparency from the hiring manager. Are they still in the running or are they qualified? Applicants want to know this so they can focus their efforts elsewhere. Yet hiring managers, still, rarely tell this status to their interviewees.

Go back to your answers in step 1 and add notes on where you can improve or do better.

  • Can you eliminate this personality test that a previous consultant implemented but has never been really used in evaluating the candidate? Is that interview with HR necessary? Does the applicant really need to answer a 50-question form?
  • Is a face-to-face interview really needed? Can you do video interviews instead? Do you have to stick with your 9-5 schedule? Or can you accommodate outside that, even weekends?
  • Do you have a minimum standard of measuring candidates? Or are you simply relying on your gutfeel? Do you hire people because you need people, or have you exhausted other possibilities like outsourcing, or perhaps assigning current team members to do higher-value tasks and drop lower-value tasks?

At this point, resist the urge to filter ideas. This is brainstorming mode. The more ideas, the better. This also isn’t the step to determine whether these ideas can be executed.

That’s what the next step is for.

Step 3: Create a Plan to Improve Your Hiring Process 

This is the part where you prioritize your ideas and start executing. You’ll need to plan out how each improvement will be done, from who will do it, to when it will be done, to what resources are needed for this project.

In other words, create a task list or a project plan that can help you improve your hiring process.

Don’t expect miracles in the first go. Just because you’ve made a plan to improve your hiring process, it doesn’t mean you’ll implement all of them right away. You may need to start with one or two, and slowly add more improvements over time. All the while being diligent in measurement so that they are working for you.

One key point to remember in all these is to make sure you focus on making changes that will give the maximum impact AND get you closer to your main objective—hire the right person.

Step 4: Implement the Plan and Track Results 

After making your plan, it’s time to execute.

For example, in step 1, you don’t have a documented hiring process. So you made one. Then in step 2, you listed a process where every application, you call the applicants because when you were the one applying for positions, you felt that you weren’t given the chance.

After 2 days, you realized that with the sheer number of applicants, having to call every single one wasn’t feasible. You still had to do your job, so calling applicants on top of it is not sustainable.

It also didn’t let you achieve your goal either.

So, what do you do?

Start all over again…

Step 5: Make Changes as Needed

This step is related to step 3, but with a touch of humility. You need to identify which changes made your hiring process better and threw out the ones that didn’t work.

It’s okay if you realize that one change made things worse instead. As long as you can learn from it and make sure that it never happens again.

One final reminder—don’t make changes just because things seem harder at first. This is especially true if you haven’t done that process before.

For example, calling (not emailing or texting) back candidates you’ve interviewed but decided they are no longer in the running is tough, especially at first. But because you identified it as one of the things you can improve, continue doing it.

Only change if something is really not helping you achieve your ultimate goal.

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