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Are There Too Many Steps in your Manufacturing Hiring Process?

May 24, 2018

too many steps in manufacturing process

In an ideal job market, we would have a lot of interested job candidates.  Competition from other companies wouldn’t exist.  We would have the upper hand in choosing the best of the best for the job.  I think most employers would agree that, from their perspective, we are not currently living in an ideal job market.  As mentioned in the first blog in this series on hiring in a tight labor market, the current landscape is putting a lot of pressure on recruiters, Human Resources, and Talent Acquisition.  When conditions get tighter, processes that worked well in better conditions are put under the microscope and may be seen as barriers to getting (qualified) candidates apply to jobs and accept jobs offers.  When conditions change like this, it’s important to reflect on how the recruitment and hiring processes need to adapt to combat some of these challenges.  I'm here to offer solutions to these perceived issues and challenges.  One of the biggest concerns we hear is:

It’s tough to get candidates through the full process.

Recruiting in a tight labor market is a challenge.  Candidates have a lot of options around them.  When you find interested candidates, you want to make sure to get them through the process as quickly as possible before you lose them to another opportunity.  As such, time to fill is a critical metric and something that recruiters, HR, and TA are feeling pressure to constantly improve.  If you are noticing a lot of drop out from candidates, it’s important to consider a few things.

First, is the drop-out healthy? 

Are candidates withdrawing or falling out of the process because they would not be a good fit or are not qualified for the position?  This is the type of candidate withdrawal that we want.  If we are doing our jobs well, we would expect this type of drop-out because we are providing candidates with a realistic idea of the job and company, and they are self-selecting out of the process based on fit. 

While this can account for some drop-out, not all dropout is healthy. 

There are cases in which candidates are exiting the process who are potentially qualified and a good fit for the job.  Why might this happen?  This could stem from a couple of reasons.  One reason is that candidates may drop out of the hiring process because they do not feel fully engaged in the process.  Lack of communication and failure to explain the process is the fastest way to create negative reactions from candidates.  If candidates are not feeling engaged, they will not want to continue with the process.  We are hiring in a very candidate-centric market.  Candidate communication is especially important now.  This requires us to engage with the candidates and provide them frequent touch points or updates on the process.  Here are a few other ways to maintain a positive candidate experience during high-volume hiring.

Take a close look at the steps in your hiring process.

This is another reason candidates may exit the process, as it creates an overly lengthy hiring process.  To better understand this, it’s important to take a close look at all the steps in the process, considering the following:

1. Is the time between steps too long?

What is the average time in between steps?  What steps are automated vs. require human intervention?  What steps are providing you incremental information over others?

2. Do all steps add value?

After analyzing your process, it may become apparent that there are steps in your process that are not adding value.  For example, if you are hiring for an entry-level material handler position, is a resume screen providing additional value outside of the basic qualification questions being asked in the application?  Further, that third interview may not be providing much more information over the other two.

3. Do the steps require too much coordination? 

Analyzing your process may also reveal that the steps requiring more resources are lengthening the process due to sheer coordination.  For example, a series of panel interviews requires aligning schedules of the interviewers along with the candidate.  As a result, the time to complete this step will take longer because of the coordination.  Panel interviews are not always the best route because of these reasons.  This more manual and time-intensive step may not be adding a lot of value either. 

In sum, there may be opportunities to reduce steps that don’t add value or that require a lot of manual work, thereby streamlining an otherwise lengthy process overall.  However, it’s important to not go to the extreme – in order to make a good decision, we need objective and valuable information.  Eliminating the most objective step in the process (i.e., an assessment or a structured behavior-based interview) will increase your chances of making a poor decision. 

Read more: What Shouldn't Change in Your Hiring Process Despite Low Unemployment

Additionally, candidates want the ability to “show their stuff.”  This investment is something they value and makes achieving the end goal of getting a job more rewarding. It also makes not receiving a job offer seem more fair.

Ultimately, the changes you make to your hiring process should be considered in light of the company, location, and job.  While there are some strategies that can be executed across companies and locations, there are others that require a close analysis of the company, location, and job to make an appropriate change.

Going back to the original concern that “it’s tough to get candidates through the full process,” this is a very real matter today.  As with anything, we need to take a deep dive into where these concerns are coming from and implement some strategies to combat the root cause of the concern.  Better candidate communication and removal of steps that are manual or don’t add value may be a good way to keep candidates engaged in the selection process and reduce the time to fill positions.

High-Volume Hiring in a Tight Labor Market


This is the second part of a blog series on Manufacturing Hiring in a Tight Labor Market. The other posts in the series can be found here:

Part 1: Manufacturing Hiring: Good Employees Have Never Been Harder to Find

Part 3: Low Applicant Volume? Selection System Strategies to Consider

Part 4: Evaluate Your Selection Process to Combat Tight Labor Market Challenges

Part 5: Hiring in Today's Job Market: 5 Tips for Being Proactive

Part 6: Design An Ideal Selection Process for the Current Tight Labor Market

Alissa Parr, Ph.D. Alissa Parr, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.