Graphic of two people discussing how to improve the hiring process


How to Improve the Hiring Process

Whether you’re hiring like crazy or only have a few key positions open, you need to get the right person in the job. And that means you’ve got to figure out how to improve the hiring process.

Publish Date: August 26, 2020

Read Time: 8 min

Author: Bruce Court

/ Resources / Blogs / How to Improve the Hiring Process

One of two things is probably happening at your business right now. One is that you’ve cut way back on hiring and only have a few critical positions open. And that makes it crucial to get the right person. Or you might have seen an unexpected explosion in growth and are hiring like crazy. Either way, you’re trying to answer the same question: how to improve the hiring process.

There are lots of businesses like yours right now. For example, a restaurant in Manchester recently posted a job for a receptionist. They received more than 1,000 applicants. For one job.

At the same time, Blue Apron, a meal kit delivery company, saw declining orders prior to the pandemic. But once everyone started cooking at home, a surge of orders flooded in. And that meant they needed more people. Fast.

Out of necessity, companies are taking a big step back to figure out how to improve the hiring process. They are rethinking the type of employees they need to hire and how to sort through them. In addition, they want to make sure they’re making the right decisions and on boarding people quickly.

There are a lot of moving parts that make up an efficient and effective selection process. This blog focuses on five areas:

  • Refreshing Job Requirements: How should the hiring process be changed to account for new skills and competencies?
  • Rethinking Motivational Fit: How will we make sure the person finds the job satisfying?
  • Reducing Bias: Inclusion and diversity are top of mind for most organizations. How can the hiring process guard against discrimination?
  • Conducting Virtual Interviews: How can the virtual interviews be as good as, if not better than, face-to-face interviews?
  • Measuring Impact: As you figure out how to improve the hiring process, how will you measure the impact of the improvements?

Refresh Job Requirements

Thanks to the pandemic, all of us have changed how we get things done. Many of us needed to learn how to work from home, or how to take part in virtual meetings. Or some jobs may have been eliminated completely, replaced by more digital roles. And it’s likely things are going to stay that way, at least in part.

We need to consider these new requirements for new job positions. Start the refresh process by reviewing the existing success profile for the role. What needs to be updated? On the knowledge and experience side, does the person need to have specific virtual skills, such as using Teams or Zoom?

More importantly, what competencies have changed? For example, leaders may have leading meetings as a competency. Should that be modified to leading virtual meetings? Or do you have a new emphasis on emotional intelligence, which requires a new set of competencies? Hiring managers need to look at what’s required for success today and the future, not what worked in the past.

Rethink Motivational Fit

A big part of success also depends on motivational fit, which is about finding alignment between the company culture, job requirements, and the person’s values and preferences. Motivational fit is made up of two factors:

  • Organizational Fit: This is about alignment between the company’s culture, mode of operation, and values and the individual’s expectations. For example, a person who values diversity and inclusion will want to work at a company that incorporates that value into their culture.
  • Job Fit: Job fit is about matching up the tasks and responsibilities of the role with the person’s preferences and values. In other words, will they find the job personally satisfying? An example is flexibility in the role. For some, working from home is critical as they juggle childcare or other personal responsibilities. For others, they won’t be happy unless they work in a high-energy, in-person team. It’s hard to provide that in a remote job where your dog is your only interaction for the day!

As jobs have changed, especially with remote work expectations, you may see a big change in motivational fit. But it’s critical that you have alignment in both areas, which will make the person much more likely to find the job personally satisfying. As a result, they will be more engaged in their work, have higher productivity, and will stay longer at the company.

Remove Bias in Hiring

One of the top questions we’re asked recently around how to improve the hiring process is related to bias. Diversity and inclusion are big priorities for most companies, and that starts with hiring. And your hiring process can have a major impact on bias.

Let me give you an example from my own experience. Many years ago, I was asked to interview a candidate from an industry sector that I had no respect for. I couldn’t see how a person with that kind of background would be a good fit for the position.

Luckily, we had a structured behavioral interviewing system in place. As a trained interviewer, I focused all my questions on the person’s capabilities, not their background. And I was surprised by how well they did, and we ended up hiring the person. Later, when I moved into a new position, he actually took over from me! Without that ‘structured subjectivity’ the outcome would have been very different.

There are two areas where structure makes a difference: during the interview and once the interview is over. At DDI, we call doing both well mastering the “art and science” of interviewing.

The Art of Interviewing is about training interviewers to collect accurate behavioral data while ensuring a positive candidate experience. The training develops the skills to ask the right questions during interviews, resulting in better hiring decisions.

Meanwhile, the Science side is about processing the information that’s collected during the interview to make the right hiring decision.

Depending on your company, not everyone may need to do both. Some clients only train leaders in the art of interviewing, and leave the science to their talent acquisition team. Others train all of their leaders to get the full picture.

Whatever route you take, the focus needs to be on controlling bias, like mine. That way, you’re able to really focus on getting the best candidate, not just making big decisions based on a “gut feeling.”

Conduct Virtual Interviews

As many companies have switched to remote work, virtual interviews are a hot topic right now. As my colleague recently wrote in his blog on virtual interviews, the secret to success is great structure. But there are also a few key things you need to watch out for.

One key difference with virtual interviews is that it’s harder to build rapport. There’s little to no time to put the candidate at ease. And there’s a higher risk that the hiring manager will ask illegal questions or use irrelevant data, which means that there is need for increased structure within virtual interviews.

The good news is that you can train hiring managers – virtually – to master virtual interviews. If the interviewers are already trained in behavioral interviewing, hold virtual practice labs. The interviewers can practice while getting coaching and feedback on their virtual interviewing technique. These virtual practice labs also help the interviewers test the technology to ensure a smooth experience.

If you can’t do virtual labs, at least consider offering a quick update, like a 20-minute microcourse to help leaders brush up their skills. That way, they’ll feel more competent and confident in interviewing virtually, leading to a better candidate and hiring manager experience.

Measure Impact

We all know that what gets measured, gets done. Measuring the effectiveness of the hiring process is no exception.

But you need to make sure you’re measuring the right things. One client I had was only concerned about time to fill open positions. But that didn’t really show the quality of candidates they were getting, or the overall impact on the business.  

Another client was more successful. They showed that their improved hiring system “increased retention by 40% the first year after implementation, reduced turnover, accelerated productivity, and increased engagement.”

Likewise, a health system was able to show that “the organization reduced turnover from 20% to 11.5%, and enjoyed a cost savings of $9 million per year by reducing the need to replace departed staff.” Their director of human resources said, “I was actually able to go back to the CEO and say, HR has saved the organization millions.”

Get Started

Whether you’re hiring in droves or only seeking key positions, figuring out how to improve the hiring process is critical right now. If you do it well, you can be like the director of HR who proved that they saved the organization millions.

And of course, it’s not just about filling jobs today. Improving your hiring process dramatically changes your talent pool. And it fuels your succession management strategy for the future.

After all, the best way to combat uncertainty for the future is to get the right people on board.

To learn more, view our on-demand webinar “How to Turn Your Managers into Great Interviewers.”

Bruce Court works with organizations on all aspects of their leadership strategy. He’s experienced in all aspects of strategy development and execution. Outside of work Bruce likes to travel with his wife, Maureen, visiting places on their “bucket list.” He loves eating at great restaurants and “sampling” good wine and craft beers. Bruce is also a huge fan of smooth jazz.