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10 Ways To Improve Your Recruitment Processes And Attract Better Candidates More Easily

April, 2023
Adam Richardson

Together with being unrealistic about market rates, a poorly run recruitment process is one of the quickest ways to make your company unattractive to the best candidates. Think of it like inviting someone out on a date, choosing a dinghy bar, then turning up late and being stand-offish, and then not following up afterwards. 

The good news is that, according to a Linkedin poll we did last month, if you want to make a good impression, the chances are your competitors are setting the bar low! Of 88 respondents to the question “What percentage of job applications where you've got to interview stage have been well run?”

  • a staggering 33% answered that fewer than a quarter of processes were well run;
  • a further 32% said between a quarter and half were well run;
  • 22% said between 50-75% were well run; and 
  • 14% said at least three quarters of processes were well run.

10 Tips to run a Good Recruitment Process

Take time to scope the role – changing the job spec during a recruitment process will, at best, make the company look disorganised and indecisive. At worst, and all too commonly, it will end up with the whole process needing to be restarted. Make sure to involve all potential stakeholders in agreeing the required/desired skills and that there is budget ringfenced before starting the recruitment process. Then ensure the correct job description is shared with the recruitment consultant and candidates once it is signed off. 

Brief your recruitment consultant thoroughly and listen to their questions and challenges – if your recruitment consultant is to consistently identify relevant candidates then they need to be well briefed. As part of that process, expect them to ask questions either because they want clarification about the role or because they think that the brief would benefit from some changes. For example, if the candidate profile is more prescriptive than necessary that limits the pool of talent unnecessarily. However, if the brief is too vague both you and the recruiter will likely spend hours filtering through irrelevant applications. Currently many hiring managers are finding ongoing wage inflation means they’re needing to either increase budgets or reduce their expectations of the candidate profile for new roles.

Plan your employer value proposition (EVP) and how to sell this opportunity to candidates – while salary is typically the most important consideration for candidates it is far from the only one. Hiring managers should carefully consider the wider benefits and opportunities around each role such as career progression, team culture, the company commitment to sustainability, remote working opportunities etc. When salaries are broadly aligned, as is often the case, the impact of these softer benefits and the way they are sold can make a huge difference to offer-acceptance rates.

Plan the application process – a disorganised or drawn-out recruitment process will often result in the best candidates accepting offers elsewhere before your process finishes. Plan the recruitment process from start to finish and try to keep it as condensed as possible - some companies are offering within two weeks of advertising a role. Key to running a condensed process is ensuring a clear timeline internally e.g. the date candidate approaches will start or the job advert will go live; the date applications will close; when interviewers will receive candidate applications to review prior to interview; time blocked out for first and second round interviews in the diaries of everyone who needs to be involved before an offer is made etc. Communicating time frames for initial responses, first round and second round interviews to applicants also helps to keep better candidates engaged.

Train staff on how to interview – a candidate’s rapport with interviewers is often the most important factor in their decision as to whether they want to progress with a process or not. And while some people are naturally good interviewers, others benefit significantly from training. When the roles they are interviewing for have a plentiful supply of candidates the way they reflect on the company may matter less but for roles where quality candidates are scarce it is an investment worth considering.

Brief the interviewers – investing time to ensure that each interview is structured and with clear objectives both makes it easier to identify the better candidates and reduces the need for additional interviews that draw out the recruitment process. Each interviewer should understand how their interview will dovetail with previous and future ones as well as having a brief detailing what they are supposed to be probing with the candidate, for example specific technical skills, cultural fit, ability to communicate under pressure etc. Ensuring that interviewers have the candidate’s CV in plenty of time and have been debriefed about previous interviews is also key. Hiring managers should also ensure that candidates, especially if they ask, know the format and expected content of the interview so they can prepare as much as possible and approach the session in the right mindset.

Prioritise debriefing – too often interviewers don’t prioritise debriefing colleagues thoroughly or in a timely manner after interviews. If debriefing isn’t done promptly, it can lead to interviewers’ memories becoming less clear but even more importantly it can slow down the interview process; result in interviews revisiting ground already covered with candidates; make it more likely the candidates aren’t challenged as thoroughly as they should be on their weaknesses; and lead to stronger candidates not standing out as much as they should.

Feedback to recruiters about each candidate after each interview – successful or not, candidates value and deserve feedback. Successful candidates will often have concerns about their fit for a role and feedback from the interview is often a crucial part in keeping them engaged in the process and encouraging discussion around any concerns to see if these can be resolved. For unsuccessful candidates, the feedback is important to help them understand how they can improve or where the fit wasn’t quite right. While there may appear to be little direct benefit to the employer in spending time providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates not only is it courteous to applicant who has invested time in the process, but also it can damage the company’s reputation as an employer if they don’t. There is a further benefit in that the feedback also helps the recruiter deliver you a better service going forward as they can assess how well they are matching the brief and targeting suitable candidates. 

Offer promptly and within the stated salary range for the role – there is rarely a good reason not to get a role signed off before the final interviews are complete. Being able to offer quickly after the final interview minimises the chances that a candidate is going to accept elsewhere and makes a considerable difference to securing your preferred candidate as they know you are confident, they are right for the role. When making the offer ensure that it’s in line with (or above) the figure originally advertised/ discussed, or the candidate is likely to feel insulted or deceived.

Keep in contact with the candidate – once the preferred candidate has accepted the recruitment process is NOT over. At graduate level, around two thirds of candidates would renege on an offer they’d already accepted if they found something better. At a more senior level those numbers are lower but it is nonetheless common. In order to minimise the chances of having to start a recruitment process again stay in touch with the successful candidate regularly between acceptance and their start date. It needn’t be time consuming. For example, drop them an email updating them on company performance, ask them if they have any further questions before they start, and/or invite them to join their team for drinks.

    Running a good recruitment process isn’t rocket science but it takes planning and discipline and requires everyone involved to buy into the importance of sticking to the process. However, the benefits far outweigh the effort required.

    If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: adam.richardson@arresourcing.com or call 0330 174 6801.

    About the author:

    Adam Richardson - Managing Director

    Adam has over 20 years’ experience recruiting procurement and commercial professionals across the construction sector.

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