Modern employers are ferocious competitors for talent. A decade ago, things were different. The economy was in shambles and employers with good jobs to offer had their pick of bright, skilled, experienced, and driven hires. Today, the competition for top talent is driving employers to increase their salaries, get creative with benefits, and focus more heavily on retention strategies. Where many of them falter is in structuring an intuitive and candidate-friendly application and screening process.
For employers, the pre-employment screening process is a vital opportunity to learn about candidates, assess their skills, weigh their qualifications against the responsibilities of the job at hand, determine their cultural fit, and look for potential red flags that may preclude employment. It’s not uncommon for this process to include detailed job applications, multiple interviews, reference checks, skills tests, and thorough background checks.
From a job seeker’s perspective, the pre-employment screening process looks a bit different. Applying for a job and going through the interview gauntlet requires a substantial time commitment from candidates, often with no return on investment. While you can’t guarantee the ROI that every applicant is seeking (a job offer), your business can take steps to improve the hiring experience.
Reduce the time commitment: If your job application is lengthy, trim it down to the essentials. If you plan to have multiple interviews, make some of them phone or video screenings so that candidates don’t have to come into the office multiple times. Finally, be transparent and upfront about how soon you hope to fill the position. By minimizing the time that you are asking candidates to invest in applying and competing for a position, you can maximize the size, reach, and quality of your applicant pool.
Use technology to streamline everything: Employers in every industry are benefitting from applicant tracking systems that allow them to manage every step of the hiring process digitally. This reliance on technology will not only make things easier for your hiring managers but may also streamline the process for your candidates. Make sure your digital application can be filled out and submitted on a mobile device. Have a system in place with which candidates can check on application status. Automate the video screening process so that candidates can record their responses to interview questions on their own time. The easier and more digital-friendly your application process is, the better.
Emphasize transparency and open the lines of communication: No job seeker wants to be left in the dark. If you keep candidates waiting to hear from you for days or weeks on end, you will lose them to other employers. Making your hiring decisions quickly is something you should strive for, but it isn’t always possible--so double down on communication and transparency. Give your candidates a single point of contact they can reach out to if they have questions. Provide regular updates on whether candidates are still in consideration for a job. Make it easy for your hires to check the status of steps such as background checks. Candidates will appreciate your candor even if they don’t end up getting the job.
Maintain the pace as you move from hiring to onboarding. Many applicant tracking systems integrate onboarding steps into one platform, including collecting financial information for payroll and taxes. Streamlining the process of collecting new-employee information—and being clear about the next steps for orientation, training, and other matters—will help you bring your hiring process to a successful close.