Are Your Hiring Practices Working Against You?

Does your hiring practice ever feel like a Tough Mudder where – instead of crossing the finish line with your awesome new hire – you find out that they’ve dropped out of the race completely, sending you back to the starting line to begin from scratch?

Sound like a bad dream? For a lot of companies, this hiring nightmare has become their reality.

Don’t get caught sweating it out in a frustrating hiring cycle where you end up empty-handed. Evaluating your recruitment process in light of the three ideas shared below can help you cross the finish line with an all-star hire.

Remember Reciprocity

Hiring can be stressful. Especially if the need to fill a role is urgent and the resources available are limited.

In these high-pressure, high-stakes situations there is a very real tendency to default to tunnel vision. We get stuck focusing too much on what we need instead of what we can offer. It’s easy to forget that – no matter what side of the table you’re on – the hiring process is highly relational.

Yes, you have a role to fill and you need to suss out each candidate’s suitability. But your candidate is working just as hard to determine if you’re a fit for them. They’re considering everything from the details of the role to the character of the company, from the nuances of your communication style to the quality of the team culture.

Recruitment, in other words, is about reciprocity. It’s about an exchange of benefits, opportunities and responsibilities. Like a good conversation, there needs to be some back and forth, some give and take.

Imagine going out for lunch with a client and having the entire conversation focus solely on what you could provide them, no matter the topic. Would you enjoy it? Would you feel valued? Would you be interested/motivated to move forward? (Our guess is probably not.)

Hiring conversations work in a similar way. Spend time considering your candidate’s perspective. What benefits does your company bring to the table? Get creative and consider things like:

  • + Why is this company great to work for/with?
    + What sets our team apart?
    + What’s appealing about the company culture?
    + Are training, education and/or development opportunities available?
    + Do you provide feedback as part of the interview process regardless of whether the candidate secures the role?
    + What’s motivating this individual to make a move and how does this role align with those motivations?

Highlight benefits to the candidate as much as you outline the job requirements throughout the entire hiring process. Not only will this help you attract top-tier talent, but it also becomes a fantastic opportunity to learn more about candidates during interviews.

It also opens the door for more exploratory conversations where concerns, feedback and details about competing opportunities can be shared. This information can help you mitigate potential losses.

By highlighting opportunities and adding a few carefully phrased questions during interviews, you may uncover a diamond-in-the-rough leader looking for a breakout role as your team’s next A-player.

Know What You Want: Think “Big Picture, Long Game”

Most hiring managers fall into one of two camps when it comes to identifying their ideal candidate:

They’re too rigid.

This hiring manager knows exactly what they want. A comprehensive list of competencies, a detailed outline of required experiences, and a firm salary band are specifically designed to help them identify the ideal candidate.

The risk in this approach? While they’re diligently looking for a unicorn, qualified candidates may not apply because the job description looks daunting. Excellent candidates who don’t check every box but whose transferable skill sets and/or experiences mean they could knock it out of the park won’t show up.

And the few candidates who do apply may drop out of the race if there’s salary inflexibility. Rigidity limits your hiring reach and squeezes out talent opportunities.

They’re too fluid.

This hiring manager isn’t totally clear on what they want. Roles are posted before details are ironed out. And once they see the types of applications they attract, these managers realize the job description needs some editing.

The risk? Consistently shifting your desired target profile wastes time, money and – in many cases – harms brand reputation. If a job has been posted, reposted and reposted again, you will begin to repel candidates.

As for the candidates who do apply? They end up filtering out during a potentially confusing interview process where the role, job title, and expectations continue to change.

Best case scenario? Strike a balance between rigidity and fluidity

Yes, you should get crystal clear on what you want in your next hire. And when that’s complete, spend time identifying opportunities for flexibility. Consider the soft skills that may not be articulated perfectly in a job description, but could result in hiring the best fit for your team.

For example, if you’re hiring for a leadership role, what character qualities does a best-in-class leader embody? What does leadership look/sound/feel like? How are those qualities identified in a cover letter, resume, LinkedIn profile or interview?

Tune in and observe the candidate through a whole-person lens instead of ticking off boxes on a checklist. What skills and qualities does this individual posses that – maybe with additional development, training or coaching – could help them level up from good toward great?

While you’re considering candidates, remember to think for the future and compare the whole person to the whole job. Strike a balance between rigidity and flexibility.

Evaluate Transparency and Momentum

At Smart Savvy you’ll often hear us talk about two key elements of a successful hiring practice:

  1. Transparency
  2. Momentum

Transparency is the art of clearly communicating the scope of the hiring process to your candidates. It includes sharing everything from the required number of interviews before hiring to call back times, from setting expectations around technical assessments to expressing start times.

You don’t have to lay all your cards on the table. (In a lot of cases you can’t.) But a little goes a long way. Keeping the channels of communication as open as possible will lead to better conversations during the interview process. It will also encourage candidates to be transparent with you in return, which can pay in dividends.

Momentum is the art of keeping the hiring process on track and candidates engaged throughout the process. Before you start you next big search, ask yourself the following questions:

  • + How many interview steps do we need to make a clear assessment? How many might deter applicants?
    + Who on our team is a mandatory part of our interview process? Who is optional?
    + Are all the key decision makers available? If not, do we have backups?
    + Is there anything that might delay the interview process?
    + Are we aligned on the scope of the role and the needs of the team we’re hiring for?
    + Are we clear on the qualities and soft skills we’re hiring for? Do we have a process for identifying those during the interview process so that we can make efficient decisions?

Consider all the factors that could slow down the interview process. Then determine how those factors might affect a candidate’s feelings about the process or your brand.

In some cases, you may be forced to slow the interview process because:

  • + A key decision maker isn’t available due to unforeseen circumstances.
    + The role’s scope has changed due to internal restructuring.
    + The candidate you’ve just interviewed isn’t a fit for the exact role you’re hiring. But they’re so good, it’s worth taking time to adjust the role.

In these scenarios, the key is keeping your top candidates feeling like they’re part of an active, involved process of consideration. Keep the ball rollin’ through clear, timely communication.

Put It Into Practice

Next time you’re preparing to hire, use these tips to help you land top talent. Feeling stuck? We can help. Contact us to get your search started today.


Need Help Hiring?

Smart, Savvy + Associates is a recruitment agency that specializes in connecting companies with marketing, communications and creative professionals at all levels, from coordinators to C-suite. Based in Vancouver, B.C., our team of marketers-turned-recruiters have an in-depth understanding of the industry and work diligently to find best-in-class talent for each search. Get started today.