by: Kay Francoeur
At ECA, we’re all about the data. Both quality and quantity of data are key to successful evidence-based recruiting. When we consider our funnel for any search, we know it’s essential to reach out to a large number of relevant candidates. We also interview more people than many companies would in their hiring practices, and our vetting system has several distinct stages before we even introduce the candidate to the client.
While having an evidence-based multistage process enables us to find excellent candidates for our clients (on a much shorter-than-average timeline from search kickoff to placement), we also understand that there needs to be a balance in this process. Putting candidates through too many hurdles to the point of frustration or allowing them to get cold during lengthy decision processes that drag out over months ultimately does a disservice to both candidates and clients.
Unfortunately, there is a growing trend toward excess in interviewing. Adding too many layers and assessments increases the risk that good candidates will become annoyed and drop out of the process, or will be swooped up by other companies that are swifter and more decisive in their hiring.
There are several reasons why more companies are making their hiring processes longer and more convoluted. Technology – for example, the golden era of Zoom that Covid introduced – has made it easier for employers to add more hoops since there’s often no need to bring candidates onsite until the final stages of an interview process.
Companies are also experiencing a lot of anxiety from the pandemic and current economic conditions. Many firms regret some of the hires they rushed to make during the so-called Great Resignation of recent years – now, with an uncertain economic horizon looming, employers have pulled back and become more leery of committing to candidates.
Another reason behind this shift is that some companies see extended interview processes as a means of reducing bias in hiring. Multiple interviews and tests can make the hiring process fairer by focusing on a candidate’s actual abilities rather than their past accomplishments. While reducing bias in hiring is an important concern, in practice adding steps often obfuscates the process and contributes to a lack of transparency.
Overall, there are some serious downsides to this trend. Complicating the hiring process doesn’t necessarily result in getting the best person for the job, and in fact might turn off some of the best candidates who feel their time is being wasted.
How should companies determine the right balance in the hiring process? As an applicant, what should you be keeping top of mind?
Thoughts for employers:
- Make sure all the stages and assessments in your interview process actually make sense and that they each fulfill a different purpose. Potential hires are much less likely to become frustrated if they aren’t just repeating themselves over and over and can glimpse some reason in your methodologies.
- Avoid excessive interviewing just for the “prestige” factor. Some companies are trying to gain a reputation for being the most elite by having the most insane interview process. A company’s reputation should be built on more than its interviewing process, and candidates are often unimpressed by employers who have them running through an endless maze. Even Google acknowledges that four interviews was enough for them to make a hiring decision with 86% confidence – previously, candidates applying to jobs with the tech giant had gone through a gauntlet of more than a dozen interviews.
- Replace fear with better processes and better data. Hiring is expensive and onboarding is time-consuming – as Atta Tarki, ECA founder, writes, hiring mistakes are costly both in terms of money and lost productivity. While employers’ concerns about hiring a bad fit are understandable, a better fix for this is overhauling your approach to your funnel and setting up a meaningful feedback loop. Consulting a specialized executive search firm like ECA Partners can help you streamline your process and get more star performers into key positions in your company.
Thoughts for candidates:
- Ask about the interview process. The recruiter or employer should be able to give you some sense of what’s to come – e.g., an approximate number of stages, an idea of who these interviews be with and what format will they take, will there be casing involved, will there be cognitive assessments, etc. As a Project Manager, I love it when candidates ask about next steps – please don’t be shy about this! It shows that you’re serious about the role and want to give your best to the process.
- If a company is overly indecisive, pay attention. If the organization seems to be struggling with the decision-making process, this can tell you important information about the culture and health of the company.
- Update and optimize your LinkedIn! A strong LI that showcases your experience in a clear, compelling manner will give you the most choices, so that you’re not dependent on one company that’s not being transparent or stringing you along for too long.
- Need some ideas to jumpstart your LinkedIn overhaul? Check out our video and article on the subject.
Kay Francoeur is a Project Manager at ECA Partners. She can be reached at [email protected]