Written by Denise Domian, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Johnson Financial Group
With low unemployment, businesses are in a battle for talent. It is a candidate's market. In addition to low unemployment, many employers are facing large numbers of baby boomers reaching retirement age. Our organization is no exception. Are you prepared? Have you reviewed your hiring and onboarding strategies to ensure they meet your organization's needs as well as the candidates' desires?
Consider a few tips to optimize your hiring and onboarding process:
- Network. The best and most sure way of finding someone is through a mutual contact. Keep in mind – networking is not only for the candidate. As a hiring manager, it's your job to utilize networking to fill the position too. You have the best contacts in your network within the industry. While your contacts serve as an advertisement for you, the candidate also has a built in reference. You've just killed two birds with one stone.
- Just talk. Over the years there have been plenty of fancy interviewing concepts. While structured questions are important, take some time to just talk. In the end, you'll get the most out of candidates when you put them at ease and encourage them to be themselves. It's amazing what people will tell you when they're comfortable – some good, some not so good. Additionally, you're looking for a cultural fit. If a candidate isn't comfortable, you aren't getting the real person. Remember that an interview is reciprocal. Open the door for candidates to ask questions about you as an employer to ensure the role is a mutual fit.
- Communicate. Background checks, drug testing, assessments, etc. are essential safeguards to the hiring process. However, it's critical to communicate these requirements to candidates each step of the way. As a candidate, there's nothing worse than thinking you're done with the interview process only to have something sprung on you last minute. This may also give a negative impression to a potential new hire. The candidate may think you're either unorganized or that you're on the fence about them. Even if you have interest in a different candidate, you can't be sure you're going to snag them. Make sure you communicate with every candidate regardless of where they fall in your ranking.
- Communicate! Did I already say that? Now I'm talking about communicating where you are in the process. If you're still interviewing and weeks have gone by, reach out to the candidate and let them know that you're still working through candidates and when you believe they can expect an answer. There is nothing more humiliating for a candidate than to have to reach out and ask if they're still in the game. If the time table changes, communicate an update. A candidate who spends days or weeks on the application process, interviewing, required testing, etc. deserves an update. Otherwise, the candidate may lose interest and move on to another potential employer.
- Speed. Speed to hire is important, especially in times of low unemployment. You don't want to lose out on a candidate because you took too long. With each day that passes, you run the risk of losing out on a great employee.
- Make it simple. Multiple interviews can be taxing on a candidate's schedule, especially if they are currently employed. If possible, introduce the candidate to as many people at one time so that they don't need to come back on numerous occasions. Limit the number of associates the candidate has to meet based on the position level. Sorry, hiring manager, but it's not necessary for an entry level employee to interview with eight people. An entry level person should not interview with more people than an executive. If you can't make a decision on someone with 3‐5 different people interviewing them, then you may need to take another look at your selection and interviewing process.
How you treat people in the interview process will help you secure a qualified candidate for the job. In many ways it's more important than the number of candidates you interview. In the end, it's simple. Think about the process you'd personally want to experience to land a job, review your process and make sure it meets your requirements. If it doesn't, it probably won't meet the candidate's either, and you'll miss out on some great people because they went to your competitor.