Hiring can be tough, especially in a competitive market. There are countless reasons why it can be difficult attracting the right talent. Having supported the compliance, risk and legal market for over seven years through sourcing high-quality talent, I’ve reached out to my network to find out what deters them from an application process. Here are six barriers to an effective hiring process.
1. The online application
There has been huge uptake across the board in using application portals and talent management systems (I’m looking at you, Workday) to help internal HR and Talent Acquisition teams manage multiple roles. Whilst these can be useful tools to manage data, they have to be implemented in the right way and monitored very closely as they can also become restrictive to seeing a diverse range of talent.
Within compliance and legal, candidates tend to be less willing to give up their personal information due to their reserved nature and the cautious work they do. They typically want to know the details and understand the full picture of the role before they hand over too much personal information at the early stages of an application process. Lengthy forms requesting information that isn’t critical at this initial stage can elongate the application process, and candidates may decide the time isn’t worth it, or self-select themselves out of the process.
Review your initial application process and trim out information that isn’t needed in the first instance, for example, a home address, which usually isn’t required until an offer or contract is generated.
Additionally, candidates can be cautious about providing current salary detail. Will disclosing my current salary limit my potential offer? This is an increasingly common hesitation amongst female and BAME talent. Consider what you are doing as a potential employer to show your commitment to equity, diversity & inclusion from the very beginning of the hiring process.
Apply for one of your open roles online for a first-hand experience of the application process. Ensure you are asking for only relevant information at the beginning stage, and if you have requirements for other detail, indicate why.
2. Pre-interview screening
When speaking with my network about their experiences, there was consistent negative feedback about pre-interview screening.
Depending on the job function, these screening processes can range from numerical to literacy to personality questionnaires. There is, of course, a time and a place for these types of tests, but how they are pitched and at what stage is key.
If a recruitment agency is being used as part of this hiring process, some of the pre-screening checks will have been covered during registration. Discuss with your recruitment partner what questions they ask at registration; let us help you do the work.
When the completion of such tests is required before the candidate gets the chance to speak to or meet the hiring manager it can lead to unnecessary stumbling blocks in your process. I often suggest booking an interview and sending the test out at the same time. This not only saves time but increases candidate engagement significantly.
Finally, do not forget about equity, diversity and inclusion. Adding hoops for candidates to jump through may be affecting the diversity of your talent pool. By requesting additional tests and pre-defined result requirements you are (in some cases) declining neurodiverse candidates who may require accommodations to the process.
If good candidates aren’t getting through the gate, how are you ever going to meet them for consideration? A ‘one size fits’ all approach doesn’t work, and you could be missing out on some high-quality talent.
3. Timing and planning
Do you know how long this hire will likely take to make and when the candidate is likely to start? This can be vastly underestimated when in actual fact, it could be a matter of months. This can lead to missed project start times and increasing internal workload pressures.
Time is the greatest killer of the hiring process. Especially so, in a competitive market when you have a great candidate but they are one stage ahead in another process. Consider ways you can condense processes into fewer days. I’ve worked with a client who had a candidate in for three rounds of interviews back-to-back, so they didn’t miss out on them due to other processes being further advanced. After positive feedback, the candidate was offered and accepted before the competitor had booked their own final round.
4. Inclusive job adverts
Even before speaking with a candidate, how the job is communicated is key. Job descriptions will either attract to repel candidates. A good ad is one that speaks to diverse candidates and uses inclusive language.
Is your job description written to attract a diverse range of candidates? Will it appeal to female talent, BAME talent and neurodiverse talent? Will it encourage quality candidates to self-select themselves out of the process?
Utilise tools like Textio to scan through and provide feedback on how job descriptions are written. This will ultimately help it appeal to as wide a candidate base as possible by minimising unconscious biases.
Communication - or lack thereof - can be the biggest barrier to effective hiring processes. It runs across every stage of the process and has a significant impact on the candidate experience.
How and when are you communicating feedback with applicants? Is it an automated email rejection notification? Is it an email detailing the feedback constructively and wishing them well for the future? Even if a candidate is rejected for this particular hire, they may well be a great candidate in the future. How the candidate feels leaving the process will influence if they choose to apply for other roles again.
Give feedback to a candidate within a specific time frame; 48 hours is ideal, but a week is the limit. Any longer than that, and you risk losing the candidate’s interest and engagement.
Feedback is key, but it can also cause delays. Can you get individual feedback after each interview rather than waiting for all first rounds to conclude before proceeding to the second round? If the best candidate is met at the start of the week but you don’t plan on feeding back until early next week, they may already be off the market or at the end of another process by then. It is all about understanding the speed of the market and what competitive edge you can have over your competition. Gone are the days of “if they want our job, they will wait” mentality, which is not the case.
6. Staying competitive
Then we come on to market conditions. This is an aspect that is rarely considered when running a process. If the market is candidate short and very busy, you need to be adapting your process to stay competitive. If a great candidate comes onto the market and they apply to multiple roles, they could be spending a significant amount of time just going through these application processes. Those that come across more laborious than the rest will be passed over and forgotten.
When speaking with active candidates there have been multiple times when I have heard of applications being started but due to a laborious process, they have pulled their application partway through and proceeded with others that are more flowing and less time-consuming.
In conclusion, improvements can be made in several areas of the recruitment process to make sure you aren’t missing out on great talent, including inclusive job descriptions, streamlined application and interview process, and good communication back to the candidate throughout. By identifying and addressing these areas and by making small tweaks, you can improve your recruitment process and attract top talent while reducing the time to hire.
Should you wish to speak further on any of these topics or have a confidential chat about your next career move or business objectives, please don't hesitate to contact me at: email@example.com