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The hiring process is more complicated than you may think.
On its face, the hiring process can seem easy. Your organization posts an open job, candidates apply, and interviews with top talent happen. Then, the offer extends, the team grows, and the rest is history, right? Wrong.
With the Great Reshuffle, more employees than ever are scouring the job boards for their next move. And with a booming candidate job market, the hiring process is more important than ever. It has to meet the needs of both sides of the hiring equation. If your organization doesn’t have the process and infrastructure in place to streamline a great hiring experience, you risk losing out on the talent you need.
Streamlining an effective hiring process helps snag great talent. But there’s a magic formula to making sure your organization’s hiring process is set up for success.
4 benefits to an efficient hiring process
According to a 2019 PwC survey, 49% of candidates have turned down a job offer due to a poor recruiting experience. That’s a massive chunk of talent who reached the offer stage — and ultimately declined.
Think of all the work and investment leading up to that point. Sourcing, screening applicants, maintaining tracking systems, phone interviews, and reading through cover letters and resumes. Scheduling interviews with team members and leadership, checking references, preparing an offer, drafting the offer letter, negotiating, and more.
The time alone is staggering. Many managers spend from 20-40% of their time on hiring activities — let alone the coordinated work needed to complete each stage.
But if the hiring process isn’t efficient, your organization is essentially risking a 50-50 chance of securing that top talent — even when the candidate likes the organization and the offer. Efficiency isn’t always synonymous with “great experience,” but the inverse holds true. An inefficient hiring process creates a bad experience for your job candidates.
Here are four benefits to an efficient hiring process — and why it makes all the difference.
In a lot of ways, the hiring process can be a sneak peek into how the organization operates. Candidates are getting a taste of how the company communicates, how well it's organized, and how they value people.
The employee experience — while candidates aren’t yet employees — starts in the hiring phase. BetterUp’s founders have often said that culture begins with onboarding, and our People Operations Manager, Gigi Saca, says onboarding starts when the offer letter is signed.
Employees are more likely to stay with an organization if they’re having a positive employee experience. An efficient hiring process starts that experience off on the right foot and can improve employee retention, benefitting your business in the long run.
Cost of hiring
There are lots of formulas out there to help calculate the cost of hiring. We looked to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for a formula.
The cost per hire (CPH) is the internal and external recruiting costs divided by the number of new hires.
CPH = internal recruiting costs + external recruiting costs
Total number of hires
In the US, the average new hire costs $4,000 USD, according to research by Bersin by Deloitte. For companies that rely on one-on-one interviews, the investment of time and energy by colleagues across the organization may be far more. An inefficient and extended process can frustrate and wear down hiring managers and their teams, as well.
From the research cited above, we also know that nearly half of candidates are turning down a job offer due to a poor recruiting experience. That’s a massive cost — and loss — to any organization, but especially to organizations that have a dire need to fill roles.
Increased productivity and filled talent gaps
If your organization has lots of open roles, that means hiring managers across your business are operating with open talent gaps. Each gap means a manager and team over-extending themselves, risking burnout, or opportunities not pursued.
An inefficient hiring process can lead to extended gaps in your workforce. That’s work that’s not being addressed, work that’s piling up onto existing team members, and potentially more stress and exhaustion. Equally, in this dynamic business environment, a job requisition that stays open too long risks being canceled — desperately needed headcount disappears.
An efficient hiring process has a ripple effect across your business. The faster and better you’re able to fill the open roles in your team, the better the business is positioned for success. With an efficient hiring process, you’re also better positioned to empower your current team members’ success.
Lock in the best talent
Your employees’ experience starts before the candidate has signed an offer. In fact, it starts when the candidate first interacts with your organization’s brand. This could mean the brand presence on social media or the website.
But this could also mean the way the job description is written. Or the email the candidate receives after applying to an open job requisition. Creating an exceptional employee experience is critical (and hard) for any organization. But to make sure the experience is a great one, the hiring process must be taken into account. An efficient hiring process removes as many of the bumps along the job search road as possible.
8 steps to the hiring process
The hiring process looks different in every organization. A fast-paced high-growth environment feels the need and the inefficiency differently from more mature organizations. Streamlining the process isn’t always easy or obvious.
The more people you are hiring and the higher your standards, the more intentional the organization, recruiters, and hiring managers need to be. And while we keep using the word efficiency, don’t forget that every touchpoint with potential candidates is an opportunity to shape the experience. Be thoughtful about where or how you deploy technology in the name of efficiency.
Generally speaking, there are key components that’ll help to streamline the process and maximize efficiency. Keep in mind these 8 steps to the hiring process — and start to standardize how your company hires top talent.
The 8 steps of the hiring process
- Identify the need
- Write and post the job description
- Review applicants and identify top candidates
- Conduct phone screens
- Conduct in-depth interviews with team members
- Assess and gather feedback
- Extend the offer
- Verify background, employment, and/or perform reference checks
1. Identify the need
Before you can start hiring, you need to figure out what you’re hiring for. And depending on the structure of your organization, it may take input from a few stakeholders to figure out what your organization’s needs truly are.
Consider what responsibilities and duties this person will fulfill. Also, consider what the role looks like for growth and development — and how you envision the role progressing in your organization.
You can’t afford to hire just for today’s tasks — you need to hire the talent you’ll need for where you’re aiming tomorrow. Seek feedback from key partners (especially if the role is cross-functional in nature). And, of course, make sure you have approval from your leadership team to hire for this need.
2. Write and post the job description
Write out a thorough job description that outlines job responsibilities, skills, and experience. It’s possible you might also already have talent internally that could potentially use this position as a lateral move or a promotion.
Socialize the job description with your recruiting team and gather feedback from your immediate team. Consider the talent pools you’d like to target and post the job position in alignment with your organization’s recruiting strategy. If your organization has an employee referral program, make sure your company posts the job internally.
For example, some organizations use LinkedIn while others may lean more heavily on other job boards. Consult your HR and recruiting team for the best insight on where to post the open role.
3. Review applicants and identify top candidates
It’s likely that your organization uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) or some other recruiting software. Once your job description is posted, you’ll hopefully start to receive applications.
You may also receive referrals or internal candidate applications, which are other great sources of talent. Review incoming applications and review and assess the applicants. Your recruiting partners will also have a good insight into what to look for in talent.
Keep in mind your organization’s diversity recruiting strategy when reviewing applicants. Start to assemble a shortlist of candidates that you’d like to start with.
4. Conduct phone screens
Your top candidates should all be vetted through a phone screen, which is typically done by the recruiting team. Typically, the phone interview is shorter (usually around 15 minutes). It’s a conversation to align on important aspects of the role and do basic due diligence: location, salary expectations, background, and interest in the role.
From there, your recruiting team will likely work with the hiring manager on identifying a handful of candidates for the next step.
5. Conduct in-depth interviews with team members
Pre-pandemic, these in-depth interviews were often conducted in person. Many organizations scheduled interviews onsite to help streamline the interview process and knock out multiple interviews in one visit.
But in the pandemic era of hiring, many organizations are conducting their “onsite” interviews remotely. In some ways, remote interviewing comes with its own set of challenges and benefits. Make sure your team and your candidate(s) are set up for success. It’s important to communicate what they should expect, from how to join the virtual room to how many interviews they will have during the “visit.”
Next, consider what interview questions you’d like to ask. If other team members are also interviewing the candidate(s), coordinate with one another to target different themes. For example, one teammate in a peer role may focus questions on collaboration and teamwork. The hiring manager, however, might ask more questions focused on time management, problem-solving, and the ability to manage multiple priorities.
If hiring inclusively and seeking out the best talent is important to your organization, become disciplined about asking the same questions to each candidate. Look for ways to become aware of, and mitigate, implicit biases that might be skewing the interview process.
Having a diverse interview panel can help, as can some coaching and peer support around inclusive hiring. You might also consider a working interview.
6. Assess and gather feedback
After interviews have concluded, gather feedback. It’s best to gather feedback as soon as the interview has concluded. Ask for feedback as soon as the interview has concluded. Some organizations ask that you submit your feedback into the recruiting software while others discuss live.
Either way, capture feedback while it’s still fresh in people’s minds. It’s likely that your team is interviewing many candidates. You certainly don’t want to gather feedback a week or two later and risk not remembering all details.
7. Extend the offer
Once you’ve assessed the feedback, the hiring manager should make the decision. Hopefully, there’s one candidate that stands out from the crowd.
If you’re the hiring manager, you’ll want to make sure the details of the offer are clearly communicated. Oftentimes, this means a phone call with the candidate directly — either with the hiring manager or with the recruiter.
Once the offer is verbally extended, send the written offer to the candidate over email. It’s always a good idea to give the candidate a couple of days to consider the offer but reiterate your interest in them joining the company. The sooner you can gather a decision, the better. And in a market where candidates are receiving multiple offers, it’s best to streamline this step and move fast.
8. Background checks, employment, and reference checks
If you’ve reached this step, a big congratulations are in order. You’ve hired a new employee! But just because the candidate has accepted doesn’t mean the hiring process is over. Here come the nitty-gritty details.
Your organization will likely perform a background check, which also includes verifying employment. You might also want to perform reference checks from former colleagues or previous employers.
Create an inclusive hiring process
Top, qualified candidates come from diverse backgrounds. Top talent is everywhere but opportunity isn’t. It’s important to ensure your organization is creating equitable access to opportunity that’s reflected in a diverse, inclusive hiring process.
An inclusive hiring process is a non-negotiable for any organization. But put into practice, inclusive hiring shows up in different ways. We’ve outlined a few different components to creating an inclusive hiring process:
- Support hiring managers in becoming more inclusive leaders. At BetterUp, managers have the opportunity to participate in 6-week “Inclusive Hiring” coaching circles with peers. This helps them surface their own biases and also understand all the ways they might be knowingly or unknowingly eliminating good talent from the pipeline. Peers can also help with the pragmatic issues of doing more diverse sourcing efficiently.
- Write inclusive job descriptions. If your job description alienates people (even unintentionally), you risk losing out on great talent. Make sure the language you use is inclusive and fosters a sense of belonging. If a candidate doesn’t feel comfortable applying to a role, there’s a problem. Avoid using gendered language or gender pronouns when referring to the ideal candidate.
- Consider job and education requirements. I once worked with a hiring manager who once wanted a college graduate with an accounting degree to fill a data-entry position. The role did not require a four-year accounting degree (or even any college degree, to that matter). Not only did this alienate a pool of talented candidates, but the hiring manager also received little to no applicants for this role.
Be realistic about the job and educational requirements. Remember that people who adopt a growth mindset and are willing to learn are often more committed to the company in the long haul. Humans are smart — they’ll learn what they need if you teach them. And in the end, you’re creating access to opportunities for talented people to get their foot in the door into a great career path.
- Advertise the job in nontraditional ways. Talent doesn’t come from one source. We know that many folks are talented in this world. So why wouldn’t you choose to advertise your open roles in different, nontraditional ways?
For example, consider ways you can partner with workforce development programs to help create a talent pipeline. At BetterUp, we’ve hired many folks from diverse, nontraditional backgrounds (like military veterans) who excel in their roles because of transferable skills and growth mindsets. Create talent pipelines from new, different sources. You’d be surprised at how quickly the talent from nontraditional backgrounds will impress you.
4 hiring process must-haves
At the end of the day, there are just some aspects of the hiring process that you can’t do without. Here are a few components that are hiring process must-haves at any organization.
Comprehensive job description
A comprehensive, inclusive job description is a must-have for the hiring process. Without one, you risk confusion, ambiguity, and misaligned priorities. Make sure your job description outlines the job requirements, company culture, and eligibility.
Written offer letters
It’s a great idea to templatize offer letters to be better prepared to write them. Offer letters are critical to the hiring process and are often the seal for securing top talent. Work with your HR and recruiting teams to make sure your offer letters are comprehensive and accurate.
New employee forms
After the offer is accepted, a new employee has a slew of forms to complete. Depending on the country and region, these forms will look different. But in general, there should be some sort of background check and employment verification form.
It’s also likely you’ll collect identification documents and ask any new employees to fill out tax information. Again, it’s important to make sure these forms are easily accessible to help streamline the hiring process.
Payment channels for new employees
Much like applicant tracking systems, it’s likely your organization uses some sort of payroll software to pay your employees. Once new hires are onboarded and into the system, make sure they are set with payment channels.
Usually, this is completed in the onboarding process alongside the other forms new employees need to complete.
Start hiring talent efficiently
The interview process can be taxing and long — but it doesn't have to be. With a streamlined recruitment process, you can source the best candidates for your job postings.
Any new job or job application can seem daunting. If your organization is hiring for multiple open positions, it's critical to put a streamlined process in place.
And remember — an efficient hiring process doesn't just help your new employees. It helps your current employees, too. And with the right support structures in place (like coaching), you can empower a thriving workforce and meet your hiring needs.
Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.