This article on the key elements to an effective hiring process was originally published in September 2012. Our advice and data has been updated for today's labor market.
Back in the day, teenagers could spend their days in the summer going from business to business, asking for paper job applications. Sometimes, this led to the manager talking with the prospective employee on the spot, sometimes you’d get a call back days or a week later, and sometimes you wouldn’t hear back at all. For those lucky few who made it to the next step, in-person interviews with unstructured questions were the norm, leaving many feeling dejected and confused on whether they nailed the interview or not.
What is wrong with this process?
While this strategy worked for some individuals, past employers could have (and should have) done better. This outdated hiring strategy may have led to some good employees, but there were just as many bad ones, too. What’s more, employers could have very likely hired new employees in a much cheaper and faster way. For starters, paper applications are a considerable time and resource sucker. Phone screens and in-person interviews can be beneficial and accurate when done right. However, most organizations do not provide the structure needed for them to be as accurate as possible.
Additionally, unstructured processes allow personal biases and other ways of being unfair to creep in. To get the most out of a hiring process, it should be efficient, accurate, and fair. At PSI, our experience working with large and small companies has led us to a four-step hiring funnel that can help any company find the right hires quickly and fairly.
Psst: If you're interested in hiring advice for a post-pandemic world of work, you might be interested in downloading our free webinar!
Step #1: The Application
At the top of your hiring funnel, there needs to be a commitment to automation to help create an efficient and effective pipeline. When organizations embrace automation, their hiring managers and recruiters can delegate time-consuming and tedious tasks, leaving them more time to interact with and interview the most qualified candidates. Our advice for the application process includes:
Use an automated application tool.
Build screen-out questions into this tool and ask for the candidate information you need.
Rely upon your system. It will automatically determine who passes and fails this stage and can even have candidates automatically schedule themselves for the next phase.
Step #2: Candidate Screening
Once you receive an application, the next step involves weeding out the candidates that won’t be the best fit. While these applicants might have substantial experience, you need to find a candidate who has the skills and requirements you need and meshes well with your organization’s culture. In this stage in the process, remember that:
The application stage provides information about a candidate's experience and technical knowledge or skills.
While experience is important, there are some interpersonal competencies that are also important in a good worker, such as work ethic and teamwork.
There are some short assessments available that can easily screen out the candidates who do not meet acceptable levels of these competencies.
Step #3: Candidate Assessment
While your initial screening will help narrow down the applicant pool, an in-depth assessment of each candidate will help you ensure you’re interviewing and hiring the right person for the job. Research has shown that effective and strong performers exhibit certain behaviors and characteristics. In the assessment stage, looking for and identifying these characteristics in candidates is crucial. Remember:
Candidates who have made it through the previous stages of the hiring process may have what it takes to make a great employee.
It is important to give an in-depth competency-based assessment to these individuals to see who rises to the top.
Step #4: The Interview
The interview stage is your time to connect with and communicate with candidates face-to-face. To make your interview as effective as possible, you need to invest in a solid interview-training process. Every recruiter and hiring manager who spends time interviewing applicants should be on the same page and using the same tactics. This leads to a process that is more structured and faces less bias. Some last things to consider:
Until this point, most, if not all, of the hiring process has happened without human contact. Our clients have often mentioned the number of wasted hours they have spent interviewing unqualified individuals. Now, HR resources can spend their time interviewing the best of the candidate pool.
Be sure to receive training on using structured behavioral interviewing questions to maximize your accuracy at this stage of the process.
Remember to ensure that any decision-making criteria used in the process are job-related and documented. Treat every candidate equally, and they ALL must follow the exact same process and be held to the same standards. If you follow this four-step process, you’ll maximize your company’s workforce while minimizing your effort and legal risk.
At PSI, we work to create innovative solutions to help you build a modern, talented workforce. Our team of psychologists, data scientists, and HR consultants helps you screen, select, develop, and engage talent worldwide. For more information about how we can help you achieve your talent management goals, reach out to our team of experts to see our solutions in action.