Most Hiring Processes Are Ineffective and Worse, Insulting

Dec 9, 2014 10:00 AM ET

Most Hiring Processes Are Ineffective and Worse, Insulting

Writer Jeff Haden recently posted an article on LinkedIn that shared his thoughts on why most hiring processes are ineffective. The article is no longer available, but I thought it had great merit and his insights provide some food-for-thought for companies that are pulling out the stops to hire great people.

Here are some highlights from his post. Enjoy.

How some companies drive away some of the best candidates:

1. They haven’t decided what they truly need.

Job descriptions often include laundry lists of required attributes. The “perfect candidate” must possess an impossibly broad set of skills, qualities, credentials, experiences, etc.

When you say you want too many things, that doesn’t mean no one will apply; that means almost anyone will apply. (Why wouldn’t I? You clearly don’t know what you want, so why not take a chance that you want me?)

But you don’t really need all those things. If you could only pick one attribute, what would you choose as the most important skill or quality a great employee needs to have to succeed in the position?

Maybe it’s attitude, or interpersonal skills, or teamwork, or a specific skill set… or maybe just likability. Whatever it is, that attribute is what you really need. If the candidate brings that one thing to the table, great! Everything else you can train or often even live without.

2. They insert non-relevant “qualifications.”

Sometimes qualifications are a proxy for a skill or attribute. Take college degrees; if a four-year degree is required,why is it required? What does a degree prove? If you need a mechanical engineer, then a degree does indicate a certain level of knowledge. But if you need a customer service rep, is a degree required? When you require one, you automatically exclude some potentially awesome people.

The same is true with years of experience. Say you require “at least ten years of web design experience.” Smart companies don’t care how long you’ve been doing what you do. Years of service indicate nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world.

Smart companies care about what you’ve done, how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind). All that matters is what you’ve done.

3. They make candidates jump through needless administrative hoops.

I like my job. But sometimes I look around to see what’s out there. And I see the perfect job for me. I’m thrilled. I’m excited. I’m going to apply! I go to your online application system. After one screen I’m still excited. After the second screen I’m a little less thrilled. After the third screen the bloom is off the rose. After the fourth screen I bail out. I like your job but I don’t need your job, and I definitely don’t need this.

In most cases cumbersome applications systems are designed to benefit the employer. “Since we might need all this information,” the thinking goes, “let’s have the candidate fill it out so that it automatically imports into our database. That’ll make our jobs easier!”

And it also makes lots of great people – especially those who already have jobs – decide not to apply. Your application system should make it as easy as possible for candidates to apply. Just like customers, they don’t need you – you need them.

4. They play games during the process.

Many interviewers try to catch candidates off guard. (I’ve never understood this approach. Sure, sometimes people need to be able to think on their feet, but that trait is often overrated. If your employees are constantly required to think on their feet there’s something fundamentally wrong with you how run your business.)

Some play the bait and switch interview game, telling the candidate ahead of time they will be talking to one person and then substituting another interviewer. Others unexpectedly introduce tests or exercises. And then there’s the “surprise” group interview.

Group interviews are convenient for lazy interviewers and terrifying for unsuspecting job candidates. Worse, you rarely get the candidate’s best, and then it’s easy for the interview team to fall into the group consensus black hole where everyone gravitates towards the same opinion.

If you plan to hold group interviews, tell candidates ahead of time so they can prepare. If you plan to administer tests or exercises, tell the candidate ahead of time.

5. They don’t follow up with every candidate.

According to some research, approximately 94% of the people who apply for a job don’t get closure. Not only is that rude, there can be definite business repercussions. The more employees you have, the more openings you eventually have, which means the more applicants, which means the more people who will think poorly of your company.

People talk – especially about bad experiences. And some of the people they talk to may be awesome candidates who will never apply for a job with your company once they know how you treat people.

Before you post your next opening, determine how you will close the loop with everyone who applies. Maybe you’ll use an automated hiring and notification system. Maybe you’ll do it manually. It doesn’t have to be complicated. If nothing else just send a generic email thanking the candidate, letting them know you have other, more qualified candidates.

One more thing you can do to help connect with prospects – sign up with 1stGig and VetsBridge, new online recruiting services that help companies connect with prospects and potential employees who may be good fits for the open position. When there’s a 100% match, the potential will contact you through your preferred method. You’ll be further ahead of the game because only candidates that are truly qualified will be connected with your company. It’s an incredible time-saver and a great recruitment tool to add to your arsenal to attract great talent. Check it out.