With the job market on the mend, companies can’t afford to drag their feet when it comes to hiring for sought-after skills. Nobody wants to be rushed into making the wrong hiring decision, but they also can’t risk losing the right talent simply because they took too long to make an offer.
“Acting fast to choose the most highly qualified candidate is extremely important when competing for the best talent,” says Sandy Mazur, division president, franchise & license at Spherion Corporation, the staffing company. “Hiring managers need to balance speed and precision when developing an effective strategy to not only hire the right skills, but also the right person for the job.”
For many companies the thought of hiring someone within a couple of weeks of placing the advertisement is unthinkable. After all, companies are used to putting job candidates through the paces, which usually includes multiple interviews. Companies also had the tight job market on their side so there was little need for speed. But times are changing, which means companies have to move faster or watch their dream candidate walk out the door. Thankfully, there are ways to balance speed with precision when it comes to hiring. Here’s how:
Step 1: Define the Job. Even before the company places a help wanted advertisement, the HR person should meet with all the decision makers and together come up with a description of the job. According to Kevin Ricklefs, senior vice president, administration, at CHG Healthcare Services, get everyone to agree on the desired skills, qualifications and job description. Doing that will ensure there are no road blocks that will slow down the process when it does come time to make a decision. Once you have your job spec ready to go, Ricklefs says everyone should sit down and plan the interview process as well. “Make sure there are no business trips or vacations planned that will slow the process down,” he says.
Step 2: Conduct a Panel Interview. If speed is the name of the game, one quick way to interview a candidate is to have the person meet with multiple employees at one time. Not only will it reduce the number of times the candidate has to come back, but it will also ensure everyone is on the same page in terms of who is a right fit. “At LaSalle, all internal candidates interview with at least 4-5 members of our staff,” says Tom Gimbel, founder and chief executive of LaSalle Network, a staffing and recruiting company. “This ensures that culturally, the candidate is the right fit, and that the company is the right fit for the candidate. If a few employees have concerns about the candidate, it’s likely they aren’t the right for the organization.”
Step 3: Have a Predetermined Set of Questions. Even if you are taking time interviewing it can be hard to compare candidates, but if you are doing it quickly it’s easy to get confused. A good way to make sure you are doing an even comparison of each candidate is to prepare questions ahead of time and use those questions for every person that’s interviewed, says Mazur.
Step 4: Research the Candidate Ahead of Time. Nothing wastes more time than weeding out candidates during the interview process. To avoid that time zapper, Mazur says to research the candidate ahead of time and conduct the initial interview over the phone. By doing that, you’ll feel more confident about the people you actually have in for an interview and won’t hesitate to include the decision makers in the first round of interviews, says Mazur. To save even more time, Mazur says to consider hiring the person on a temp basis at first. “It gives you a chance to scoop them up quicker because you don’t have the pressure that comes with a permanent hire,” she says.
Step 5: Check References. It’s easy to blow off reference checking, especially when you are under pressure to make a fast hire, but that is one step career experts say you should never avoid. “References are often candid and reveal things a company may never have discovered during the interview process,” says Gimbel.
Step 6: Debrief After Every Final Interview. To keep the candidate’s attributes fresh in everyone’s mind, Ricklefs, says to hold debriefing meetings on every candidate that makes it to the final round. The confab should be held immediately after the last interview and everyone should agree not to leave the room until a final decision about each candidate is made. “Don’t focus on finding the ‘perfect’ candidate. They rarely exist, and it’s more important to search for someone who is a perfect cultural fit,” he says. “The skills for the position can be taught, but culture is innate.”