5 Tips for Speeding Up the Interview Process

John Arnold and Brendan Haugo

By Kelly Gunderson, Client Experience Director at Celarity

It’s no secret that hiring has had its challenges lately. There has been uncertainty in the job market since the start of the pandemic. But now, as companies look ahead with positivity and seek to grow teams, they’re struggling. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed a record 7.4 million job openings in February, the most since January 2019. However, actual hiring rose to just 5.7 million jobs during the same timeframe, which was the lowest total (excluding the pandemic) since May 2019. 

We can only speculate at the causes, but one thing is for sure: when top talent comes knocking, companies only have a brief window to close the deal before they’re snatched up by the competition. This is one of the dominant hiring issues I’ve seen lately — and the loss of a fantastic, qualified candidate can come as a surprise to my clients.

I don’t want this to happen to you – if you don’t want to miss out on a great candidate, I recommend you make your hiring process speedy and efficient. I have been recruiting for almost a decade and I’ve seen that when the job market is scorching or in times like this when top talent is in high demand, the interviewing and hiring process has to move quicker. Having a fast, robust process is also a general best practice that will come in handy anytime you’re looking to recruit quality candidates.

I know that it’s sometimes easier said than done to refine and expedite the hiring process. But to be effective, companies really need to focus on finding the right talent that will support their organization and work to do that more expediently. After all, speeding up the hiring process is beneficial in several ways: 

  • Cut down the chance a candidate picks a different company.
  • Get talent on your team more quickly.

To help you become more efficient in your process I want to share my best advice: here are my 5 Tips for Speeding Up the Interview Process.

1. Be selective from the start.

What’s better? 50 candidates, who you’d qualify as “just ok” or 3 candidates who look like stars for the role? As someone who has worked in the recruiting industry for almost a decade, I definitely advise the latter.

It may not seem like it initially, but being more selective about which candidates you choose to interview can save you days, if not weeks, in the entire hiring process. At the start of your hiring process, you should spend a majority attracting suitable candidates. This time should be spent:

  • Writing an unambiguous job description
  • Creating and placing enticing advertisements in all the right places
  • Asking your team and network for referrals
  • Viewing and categorizing resumes 

When it comes to viewing resumes, trust your instincts on which candidates to bring into the next round – phone screens! Don’t spend unnecessary time phone screening candidates who don’t look solid enough to do the job. And if you have any major red flags while phone screening, don’t bring the candidate in for an in-person (or virtual) interview. Stick to a smaller selection of the most qualified, star candidates to bring into subsequent rounds.

2. Provide a great experience.

Currently, a large percentage of our candidates are receiving multiple offers from multiple organizations. By the time a standout candidate gets in front of you, they most likely are also interviewing elsewhere. That’s why it’s important to move quickly and create an excellent experience for your candidates.

Your hiring process says a lot about your organization and you as a leader. When candidates accept a job offer, the decision often comes down to elements such as speed of the process and job offer details. But another important factor for hiring success depends on their experience with you — and what others say about you and your organization too (a.k.a. your employer brand). 

I like to remind my clients that the interviewee is evaluating your company and how your company makes decisions. For example, suppose a company takes three weeks to go from scheduling a phone screen to a face-to-face interview. In that case, the timeframe may provide insight into the speed at which general decision-making occurs within the organization.

For more tips on creating an exceptional hiring experience, check out this post.

3. Make an action and communication plan.

In recruiting, speed and communication are integral to hiring success. Without action and a clear communication plan, the hiring process is going to move significantly slower than what is desired. But this doesn’t have to be the case, make a plan for these key interviewing and hiring items:

  • What is your timeline for making a hire?
  • Is there anyone else who needs to sign off on steps within the process?
  • Who is in charge of reviewing resumes?
  • How many rounds of interviews will there be? 
  • Who will be included within each round of interviews?
  • Who is responsible for communicating with candidates?

Part of providing an excellent experience for candidates means that when you have information to share, you let the candidates know as soon as possible. This level of proactive communication will enable you to keep the process moving forward while engaging the candidates in back-and-forth conversations that allow you to gauge their interest level, confirm next steps, and align on potential dates that will work to keep the process moving.

4. Cut unnecessary steps – but don’t shortcut references.

What I have seen is that candidates’ interests change based upon the frequency of contact and time in between communication and meetings. The longer companies wait to schedule interviews, the higher the chances are that candidates will begin to lose interest or gain interest in different opportunities.

No one likes to feel like they aren’t important. My advice is to actively work to cultivate the candidate’s interest until the deal is closed. But how, you ask?

Take a close look at your entire interviewing and hiring process: are there bottlenecks or tasks that take too long or tasks that are unnecessary? Create a plan to improve those areas in advance of initiating your next candidate search. Some things to consider skipping, especially in a tight-candidate market, include:

  • Pre-screen questionnaires
  • Personality tests
  • Extra phone screens
  • Feedback from too many secondary parties

Something you should never skip: references. It’s essential to check a candidate’s background to ensure they are everything they claim to be. Hiring requires a lot of time, money, and resources. This type of investment requires the necessary reference step to avoid making costly mistakes in hiring the wrong person. 

5. Don’t wait to make an offer.

Great candidates won’t wait for you to make an offer. Currently, many candidates have multiple offers from multiple organizations by the time they are nearing the end of an interview process with an organization. If the organization likes the candidate but waits to make an offer, they run the risk of missing out on their opportunity to hire the candidate.

The sooner hiring managers can make an offer to a great candidate, the more likely it is that the candidate will accept the offer – as long as you put your best foot forward with the first offer and show a willingness to negotiate if needed. 

Remember, top candidates are likely interviewing at other organizations, so it’s vital to move fast with transparent, positive intentions. Always trust your instincts to move a candidate forward in the interview process and never low-ball the job offer. By the time you’re in the final interview rounds, you should know whether or not you want to hire a candidate, so it’s time to let them know how much you want them to join your team.

I know it’s not always easy to keep the hiring process moving. There are a lot of steps, people, and factors to juggle at one time. If there is only one piece of advice you take away from this article, it’s this: Keep lines of communication open at all times – between hiring personnel and candidates. 

At Celarity, we’ve achieved success by simply partnering with our clients and candidates while being transparent about the process. This tends to move things along and helps us to place candidates with great organizations, even in a tight job market.

Looking for help finding top talent? I would love to help! Reach out to me at kelly.gunderson@celartiy.com to start the conversation.

Kelly's headshot - author of blog - The Simple Guide to Becoming a Better Manager

 

Kelly Gunderson has been working within the staffing & recruiting industry for 7+ years. Kelly is currently the Client Experience Director at Celarity, a marketing recruiting firm with strong local roots in the Minnesota marketing community for over 27 years. In her time, Kelly has placed over 300 professionals into 75+ organizations and worked directly with Fortune 500 companies. She enjoys managing the Celarity Client Experience Team and helping Marketing, Creative, and Digital leaders build & grow their own teams.

 

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