jade rubick

Your hiring process is too slow -- speed it up with these five tips


This is a part of a series of articles on hiring and recruiting.

The easiest way to improve your hiring is to speed it up. Here is how to do that.

Hiring faster can drive immense improvements

Hiring for a position is a thoughtful and deliberate process. And it can take a lot of effort and time to get to the point where you’re confident making a decision on a candidate.

But all that deliberation comes at a cost. Imagine your process took twice as long as it does now. Wouldn’t that result in a lot of those candidates deciding to work elsewhere?

The same principle applies if you shorten the amount of time it takes to decide on a candidate. Imagine a theoretical situation where you could immediately decide on a candidate after they apply. How much more likely would it be that they would end up working for you? In my experience, this can result in dramatic improvements.

Time windows are a differentiator when hiring. Candidates have an amount of time within which they’ll interview. And they have an amount of time within which they’ll make a decision.

If you decrease your time window, you compete with fewer companies. You also speed up every aspect of your hiring.

Instead of filling a position in three months, you might fill it in one. The compounding effect of this on a growing company is immense.

Give your hiring team a service level agreement (SLA)

My advice: give everyone that touches candidates 24 hours to get back to them. Ideally you get back to candidates within a few hours.

Even if you do nothing else, this will give you many times better results than being average.

Most companies take a week or more to get back to candidates. This little change accelerates every step of your interview process. The end result in people get through the whole process faster.

This also results in a better experience. Candidates feel like they’re valued if they get a prompt response.

Reduce the number of steps in your interview process

The second change to make is to remove steps in your interview process.

Most interview processes contain three to five rounds. For example, you might have a process like this:

Each of these steps adds a new cycle of turnaround time to your interview process. So removing steps is the best way to compete with other companies:

With these changes, your time window is a week or two, instead of a month or more.

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.

Schedule all the steps ahead of time

The formula for how long your interview takes is:

(Number of steps) * (Turnaround time + Coordination time)

We’ve already optimized the number of steps, and turnaround time. The final optimization is to reduce coordination time.

One way to do this is to pre-schedule your team for interview times, so they’re available for a certain number of interviews per week. Then you can offer times that are immediate, instead of far off in the future.

By creating set times each week that are reserved for interviews, you avoid overloading your team with interviews on any given day or week.

Now you’re cooking with fire!

Interview until you find the right person, not in batches

You can use two different models for your interviews:

  • Batch interviews. 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 interviews. You interview until you find the right person. Whenever you find the right person for the role, you stop.

Batch interviews are slow, but more fair and thorough.

Rolling interviews are difficult at the beginning, because you haven’t calibrated your candidates. They are also difficult at the end, because you may be reluctant to extend an offer when you you’re still interviewing promising candidates.

I recommend using Rolling interviews. You should calibrate for a couple of weeks, until you have a good sense of how good each candidate is.

Best of both models for diversity

You can 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).

I like to not make a decision until I’ve interviewed people at least two people from underrepresented groups. To balance against the need to hire quickly, I give myself a time limit. If I don’t meet that limit, I can proceed, but note down the failure as a signal for improvement.

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.

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.

Improve the visibility of your hiring pipeline

One of the challenges I’ve had with a lot of applicant trackng systems is that it is hard to know which candidates are waiting on us. And it’s hard to get a sense of how we’re doing as a team in responding.

A tool I have not used, but would check out if I were using Greenhouse or Lever, is TalentWall. It visualizes your candidate pipeline as a kanban board, and shows how you’re doing and what needs to be done for each candidate. Super valuable! Maksim Koutun describes his experiences with it here. Let me know your experiences with it — I have not used it. Also let me know if you’ve used any other tools that help you visualize your hiring pipeline.

Did I miss anything? Please share your favorite ideas with me, I’d love to hear them!

Thank you

My appreciation to jtopper from Rands Leadership for his feedback on the post. Maksim Koutun shared the post on hiring improvements he made and his experience with TalentWall.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Jade Rubick

Engineering Leadership Weekly & Frontline Management & Decoding leadership podcast

Point me at your organizational problems. I advise startups and help in a variety of ways.

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