Lately, the biggest gripe around hiring is how long and arduous the entire interview process has become. The frustration of interviewing for too long with one employer is enough to cause most to rage apply elsewhere. Others might give up full-time work and opt for freelancing just to avoid the hiring process headache. And that’s not good for hiring managers like you, who need to secure best-in-class talent before your competitor does. So how can you improve your interview process for your candidates? How can you ensure the process is still thorough without making them jump through so many hoops?
First, let’s look at how the interview process got so long and painful…
Many who have been in their profession for over fifteen years will remember the days when going in for two rounds of interviews with select team members was the expectation. So now in 2023, why do candidates have to go through rounds upon rounds of interviews, tests, and presentations? There are a few key reasons:
- Many companies got burned by hiring too fast during the pandemic. Some of their hires might have not met their expectations or were over-employed, which made them overly cautious today.
- The workplace has changed drastically with employers wanting to ensure they hire truly diverse talent, with high performance, and who fit in great at their company. Multiple interviews and various test methods will theoretically dismantle bias and offer up a clear winner.
- Desirability itself is now a test—the long, drawn-out process might yield the candidate who “wants it the most”.
A quick look over this list and you’ll see the bigger part at play: the company’s ego is at the heart of hiring. Throw in recessions, layoffs, Great Resignation(s), and economic peril and you have a full dumpster of additional reasons why companies insist on making candidates jump through hoops that were never there a decade ago.
What can companies do to improve the interview process?
1. Assess the process for all levels - and make it easier the more junior the role.
Look, we understand that C-suite level employees will have to conduct more tests, interviews, and presentations to display their expertise across teams. But what are your interview processes like for the entry level or even mid-level employee? Why should they have to meet the CEO or produce a test and defend it in front of their hopeful peers? Your tactics for finding the best talent might be too rigid—so much so that you forget that green workers need to learn even more on the job. Reassess which interview steps you can let go—and then do that.
2. Display some empathy—work with the candidate’s schedule.
During the pandemic, there were many people without jobs who became full-time job-seekers while collecting unemployment. That is no longer the case, which means you need to remember that candidates are taking time away from their current jobs to interview with you. Whether you’re conducting interviews remotely or in person, it doesn’t change the fact that candidates would prefer to line up several interviews in one day, rather than hopping on a Zoom call multiple times a week. Respect your candidate’s time and don’t abuse it.
3. Be upfront about how many steps there are and why.
… and expect that interviewees will hold you accountable for it. While you might not be able to give a solid time frame from the first to the last interview, you can certainly tell them who they’ll meet with, how many interviews to expect, and whether there is some form of performance assessment on the schedule. Tell them exactly why each interview is important, based on the roles of the interviewers, and what they need to know to succeed. Giving candidates total information from the get-go will make the entire process less stressful for everyone involved.
4. Be communicative immediately when you sense a candidate isn't the right fit.
Don’t hem and haw, worrying that you might be letting “the good one go”. There are so many great candidates out there, you will always be letting good ones go! You have to own your choices, which requires you to let people go the second your team says it’s not a good fit. Why? See our bullet above on empathy. And this should go without saying, but by all means.... DO NOT GHOST candidates - even if you're not going to hire them.
5. Listen to your survey responses - and fix mistakes.
Often a quick way to fix your process lies with the exact people who have already been through it. Always offer surveys after letting candidates go from interviews and seriously consider their feedback. If not, you’re liable to repeat problematic or unnecessary steps that could have been easily removed from the process. Plus, candidates will talk to each other and on social media about their experiences with you, good or bad.
Are you looking for great candidates? We happen to know a lot of them—and they’re looking to work with great employers like you.