6 Tips for Ensuring a Positive Experience for Your Organization and Your Job Candidates
As the pandemic winds down (hopefully!), the number of open jobs and the rate of hiring are on the rise. The number of job openings exceeds 9.3 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the number of people not in the labor force who currently want a job increased by 1.6 million since a year ago.
So, more job openings and more people looking for jobs. Seems like a win-win for both candidates and employers. So, why are they both expressing frustration?
“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth.
Hiring was – and still is – the most important thing we do.”
Marc Beniof, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce
The Candidate’s Perspective
I know so many extremely talented, seasoned professionals who are engaged in what feels like an uncharacteristically difficult job search. Keeping their spirits up is very challenging as these candidates get to the end of a very long process, only to hear that the employer went with another candidate or “in a different direction.” Even worse is when the candidate doesn’t hear anything.
Anecdotally, the interview process seems more grueling than it was pre-pandemic. Candidates are going through what some believe are excessive rounds of interviews which take several months to complete. Who knows what the ‘right’ number of interviews is in any specific case; however, the candidates question whether, as an example, five (or more) rounds of interviews, each with multiple interviewers, sometimes with interview panels, are truly necessary. A few have reported that even after interviewing with many people, they still had yet to meet the hiring manager.
What is the impact? The process itself communicates to the candidate a lot about the organization’s culture, such as their approach to decision-making and how much they value people. We as leaders need to remember that candidates are evaluating the organization for fit, just as the organization is evaluating the candidate. If offered more than one opportunity, the candidate will likely choose the organization with the most personable, informative and communicative process.
Furthermore, now the “employment value proposition” is more important than ever. Candidates’ interest and ultimate decision of whether they will accept an offer will be swayed by what they experience in the hiring process and the impression it leaves about your organization. This perception is critical because itis what they could potentially communicate to their friends and colleagues who may also consider your organization at some point.
The Organization’s Perspective
Organizations want to make the ‘right’ decision on who they hire. With so many people looking for work, the job of finding that one person is even more challenging and may seem quite daunting. All the changes that have occurred over the past year that have changed business strategies, objectives, jobs and the way work is done have further increased the complexity of the interview process. In addition, ‘getting to know’ the candidate in an interview is a whole new ball game now that interviews are being conducted virtually. Organizations are having to make hiring decisions without even having the opportunity to meet the candidate in person.
As a result, some organizations are including more people in the process, adding steps by which to assess candidates (e.g., projects, presentations), evaluating more criteria (e.g., culture fit, EQ, learning agility, curiosity, resilience) and taking longer to make decisions. It makes sense that multiple interviews by multiple people will provide a broader range of perspectives and insights to inform the decision-making process. If carefully choreographed, an assessment of a range of targeted set of criteria across interviewers can provide invaluable information that you wouldn’t necessarily have been able to gather with just a few interviewers. In addition, having multiple interviewers may increase the buy-in on the decision and could positively impact the individual’s success (at least in the short term). All of this together could have a negative impact on candidates.
Balancing Needs and Perspectives
So, what should we do? Creating a balance between ensuring a good candidate experience and gaining the most valuable information is the challenge. Below are steps that employers can take to ensure a positive experience for the candidate while also being an effective, efficient and successful hiring technique:
Implement a skills-based approach to hiring talent.
Focus on evaluating skill sets, rather than looking for people with past experiences that mirror the role as it is defined today. First, with many jobs changing in nature, it is the skill sets that are needed to transfer to other roles. In addition, organizations’ potential talent pool broadens and becomes more diverse by focusing on skills. Furthermore, they may even be able to find talent within their existing employee base who can do the job, not to mention provide current employees with career progression and development opportunities.
Evaluate candidates against what is truly critical for success.
Focusing on technical skills or subject matter expertise may not be enough. Soft skills and personal characteristics are additional important factors to consider.
As noted above, jobs are changing and will continue to change. In fact, Gartner reported that just 29% of new hires have all the skills required for their current role. Going forward, organizations need to consider what the future roles may be and what additional or new skill sets they may require. Some organizations are placing greater emphasis on evaluating less tangible criteria, such as curiosity and learning agility.
Carefully consider the organizational culture being communicated to candidates, either intentionally or unintentionally.
For example, does the organization value its people? Is the interview process respectful of everyone’s time - both interviewers and candidates?
Choreograph the hiring process.
Determine the most appropriate interviewers, carefully considering the relationship of their role to the open role (i.e., how will the individual interface with that interviewer), who is asking what questions (or is focusing on which skills or characteristics) and how the questions are being asked (i.e., are questions being asked in the most effective way?) Be sure to debrief with your interviewers for their perspective on the candidate and any areas to be explored further.
Solicit feedback from new hires on the hiring process
Ask new hires for constructive feedback on the hiring process regarding how it worked operationally and where there are opportunities to improve the process and the candidate experience.
The interview provides an opportunity to communicate the culture of the organization. How long the process takes, what is evaluated, who participates in the process and the type and substance of the feedback received can have a huge influence on the candidates’ perception of the organization and hiring decision, once receiving an offer.
Review Your Organization's Hiring Process!
The hiring process is challenging, even in “normal” times. With the added volume, complexity and risk to the business (of losing current and emerging future leaders), some organizations are being even more intentional about the process. Now is every organization's opportunity to review their interview and hiring process to ensure it is accomplishing what they intend.
If you would like recommendations for and/or assistance with creating a more streamlined, efficient and effective hiring process, please feel free to contact Francine Esrig, Ph.D. at email@example.com or visit francineesrig.com.