This is a part of a series of articles on hiring and recruiting.
Focusing on short turnarounds is probably the highest impact area for improving your hiring pipeline.
Why hiring faster is important
Candidates have time windows for every company they’re working with. They have a certain amount of time within which they will take to interview, and a certain amount of time they have to make a decision.
When your company has a long time window, that means you increase the chance that candidates have to choose other companies before you’re ready to make a decision.
To illustrate this, imagine you were able to instantly decide on a candidate, without any evaluation. You produce an offer, and they have maybe a week to decide on that offer. Unless the candidate can get competing offers within a week, they have the chance to make a decision with your company first. They may ask for more time, or whatever, but this make it more possible for them to choose you.
Conversely, if you hire at the pace Google does (which is to say, very slowly — they can take 6 months to hire someone), then most candidates will have to make a decision with another company before they can choose to work with you. Even if they’re very motivated to work at your company, you’re putting up a lot of friction for them to do so.
Give your hiring team an SLA
My biggest piece of advice is to give yourself an internal SLA on all candidate touchpoints of 24 hours. This will give you 2-10 times better results with hiring, even if you do nothing else! Try to get back to candidates in hours, it can have a big impact.
The reason this is effective is that most companies take 2-4 weeks to hire someone. If you can get someone through the whole hiring process in a week, you’ve just made your hiring pipeline AT LEAST 2-4 times more effective. You’re competing with fewer companies for the same person. This isn’t even accounting for the fact that the candidate experience is so much better.
Present an offer the day of the last interview
One way to speed things up is to monitor how the “onsite” interview goes, by talking with the interviewers right after the interview, or having them enter it into the applicant tracking system right afterwards (tip: have a meeting scheduled for them to reserve this time, right after their interview). If you see enough positive signs, prepare an offer to present them at the end of the day.
Interview in a modified rolling approach
You can use two different models for your interviews:
- Batch. You interview a bunch of candidates, compare them to each other, and have a decision after you’ve interviewed a whole bunch of them.
- Rolling. You interview until you find the right person. Whenever you find the right person for the role, you stop.
The problem with Batch is that it is very slow, so you’ll lose a lot of candidates due to them waiting for you. The problem with Rolling is that at the beginning you haven’t calibrated your candidates (if you’re familiar with explore and exploit algorithms, there is actually math that can be used to determine how long to wait before making a decision, but that’s probably not necessary). And it can be hard to hire someone when you know there are other promising candidates that will be interviewed next week.
I recommend using a Rolling approach, but calibrating for a while until you have a good sense of how good each candidate is. You can also Batch up candidates if you’re not getting enough diversity in your hiring pipeline (research shows if you have one woman in your candidate pool, there is 0% chance she’ll be hired, and I imagine that’s true of other underrepresented groups). If you’re doing this within a Rolling process, one way to do it is to not make a decision until you’ve interviewed people from at least two underrepresented groups. To balance this against the need to hire quickly, you can also give yourself a time limit, after which you can resign yourself to the fact that you’re not doing a good job of attracting diverse candidates. This is how I try to balance my interest in hiring quickly, with my interest in hiring fairly and from a diverse pool of candidates.
Did I miss anything? Please share your favorite ideas with me, I’d love to hear them!
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