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How to improve your hiring process

8 min read
Your business cannot afford to make bad hiring decisions. Pick the wrong candidate and you’ll lose money, time and customers. A good hiring process, though, will help you attract and retain great employees.


What is the hiring process?

This is a step-by-step method for finding, selecting and recruiting the best new employees. Every company will have unique elements to its process, but generally, recruitment steps will be the same across similar industries.

Steps in the hiring process

There are usually three main phases when hiring. These are:

  1. HR planning: This is very much an internal process where leaders decide how many employees they need to hire, and what qualifications and skill sets they must have. It’s important to align these needs with the number of suitable candidates available in the labor market.
  2. Recruitment: The company reaches out to available candidates in a variety of ways – internal recommendations and referrals, job boards, social media, a talent pipeline, advertisements, and recruitment fairs. Responding candidates are then screened for suitability, successful ones are interviewed and assessed, and references checked.
  3. Selection: Following assessment and interview, the most suitable candidate is offered the job.

It’s essential that you offer an impeccable candidate experience throughout your hiring process. As well as the feel-good factor, it enhances your employer brand and builds up a healthy talent pipeline of people who want to work for your company when opportunities arise.

Get started with our free candidate experience survey template

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The benefits of getting your hiring process right

Ideally, your recruitment process should provide competent employees who vibe with your company culture and stick around to develop and rise through your organisation. Other benefits include:

  • Saving money: It’s expensive to hire a new worker (around £3,000), and you really don’t want to double the cost by choosing the wrong person and then having to rehire.
  • Saving time: It takes around 24 days’ work for managers to recruit a new employee; time that would be better spent on productive work rather than recruitment.
  • Damage limitation: The wrong hire will, at best, jar negatively with colleagues, or not be particularly good at the job; at worst they may be a safety risk, or cause financial or reputational damage to your brand. Hire right, and good people will enhance your business, not tarnish it.
  • Catching the best people: You won’t have a feeling of regret that you let a better candidate go in favour of the one who didn’t work out – because you hired the best.
  • Training effectiveness: It’s expensive and time-consuming to train new people. It’s money and effort well spent when the right employees stay with you, but demoralising when a wrong hire leaves after training and you have to start all over again with a new hire.
  • Security: Employees need a certain amount of access to confidential information, systems, data, patents, accounting, passwords etc. to do their jobs effectively. When a wrong hire leaves suddenly, they potentially take all this information with them.

Improve your hiring process with great design

Historically, the recruitment process was linear: a candidate applied for a job; was accepted/rejected on application; was accepted/rejected on interview; and was offered the job (or not). Unsuccessful candidates wrote off the employer, and the employer forgot about the candidate.

The modern recruitment process is circular: you want candidates to come back round again, thinking, ‘I want to apply for another job here’. The way you do this is by designing the best candidate experience possible.

Start with brand

But the best candidate experience doesn’t start with recruitment. It starts with brand. Think of the likes of Bain & Company, NVIDIA, In-N-Out Burger, Hubspot, McKinsey & Co, Google… who wouldn’t want to work there, such is their reputation for excellent employee experience? So get your brand equity right, and the right people will come knocking on your door for jobs – again and again.

Deploy social media

A great brand will generally have effective social media channels. These are great recruitment tools, amplifying your potential talent pool for free as followers see job postings they might apply for, or share them with friends. Make full use of social media to get job opportunities out there, and you can also check out candidates’ profiles.

Ask your employees

‘The right people know the right people’, so before you launch into expensive recruitment campaigns, ask employees for recommendations and referrals. You could set up a referral scheme to reward employees who bring in good candidates, although people are often happy to do this out of good will.

Craft the perfect job ad

The best job ads display straightforward job titles (no ‘ninjas’ or ‘rock stars’), promote your company in a compelling way, and use clear and inclusive language. Include no more than six ‘must have’ attributes for the role and cut the ‘nice to haves’: it’s a fact that women will generally only apply for jobs if they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they meet 60%.

Make applying easy

Simple-to-fill, concise forms that allow for resume and cover letter attachments let your candidates know that you’re a streamlined, modern company.

ATS: no applicant left behind

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is essential. You can track your applicants through every stage of their recruitment process from job ad to offer, and identify which channels they came through. Use your ATS to send automated progress messages to everyone who has applied, and at every stage of the recruitment process.

Make your interviews thorough, and fair

You want to bring out the best in your candidates, not interrogate and stress them. Modern interviews tell candidates in advance what to expect in the selection process, and give the questions so they can prepare. These questions must be standardized and scoreable to give everyone an equal chance. And as for the question type, ‘if you were an animal, what would you be and why?’ – just don’t.

You might also want to include:

  • Introductory conversation where the candidate gives their researched impression of your company
  • Practical skills tests of tools, processes or software that the candidate will be using
  • Listening and communication skills Ask the candidate to teach the interviewer about one of their passions
  • Writing skills Essential for candidates to be able to write in the company’s voice to customers
  • Games or practical exercises to determine interaction with others and cultural add

Only discuss candidates with colleagues once they have been through the whole selection process, to avoid introducing bias.

Survey your candidates

Continue improving your recruitment process by collecting feedback from everyone who applied with a candidate experience survey.

Build a talent pipeline

Because your hiring process is now so good, you’ve got to know your candidates well – their strengths and weaknesses, and personalities. It would be a waste not to keep in touch with them (on LinkedIn or by newsletter) and let them know when a more suitable job turns up. You can create a talent pipeline, particularly for roles that have high employee turnover, reaching out to:

Using a talent pipeline not only reduces the time it takes to hire. it also helps you to identify good cultural adds, increases the chance of job acceptance as a relationship already exists, and leads to higher retention rates as candidates have had plenty of time to consider the offer.

Get started with our free candidate experience survey template