Mining for Hidden Gems

How Complex Recruiting Processes Cost You Great Candidates

by Jon Lome, Sales Manager, ACA Talent

For leaders looking to hire, the goal is simple: find the best person for the job. To find those candidates, we sometimes introduce levels of complexity to the hiring process that, ironically, make it more challenging to weed out the duds and find the gems. So how does a complex hiring process jeopardize your ability to land “A” player talent?

It starts with how the employer’s and the candidate’s perspectives differ.

Employers often approach their open jobs from a position of pride: they believe their company offers the best compensation, benefits, upward mobility, and so on. They’re looking for superstars who’ll hit the ground running and make an immediate impact on the company’s bottom line. Naturally, these employers demand nothing but the best from their candidate pool. Because of this, they tack on more requirements to the position, and look for reasons to eliminate candidates, rather than hire diamonds in the rough.

Candidates, on the other hand, especially those at the entry- to mid-levels, may not necessarily care that the company is an industry leader, has the best benefits, or even the best break room—they are simply looking to work and advance in their career. Over the past few years, more people have been looking for employment than in any recent time. Many candidates, especially those in sales, realize that the more positions they apply to, the more likely they are to find something fast (like sales, it’s a numbers game). In fact, while an employer may be on the fence about a candidate, that individual is probably interviewing with five other firms. It’s only a matter of time before they start receiving multiple job offers.

This is where complexity within the hiring process can cost employers great candidates. As you add stages to hiring, the time to fill stretches out. If it takes you 3-4 weeks to make a hiring decision, the candidate may be off the market by then, because he needs to work. Incorporating numerous steps into your hiring methods will drastically increase the chances of losing people in the process, especially when you’re interviewing for entry/mid-level positions.

For example, putting a mid-level sales candidate through several rounds of phone and face-to-face interviews may help you glean useful information about him, but it also takes weeks of everyone’s time (to say nothing of the amount of money it’s costing your company to coordinate all these interviews). Many companies do this to ensure they’re hiring the person with the right skill set and cultural fit.

What companies often don’t realize is that they’ve slowed down the interview process, making a competitive offer from a company who can hire that candidate tomorrow so much more attractive. Why would a candidate, who’s been interviewing with several firms, wait several weeks for an offer, when he can have one immediately? In this case, an unnecessarily complex process for a mid-level job has cost the company a great hire and even more money, because process has to start all over again.

Why put candidates for non-executive level jobs through an executive-level process if it only costs time, money, and effort in the end?

The key takeaway here is that if you’re a hiring manager waiting for the “perfect candidate,” you may miss out on all the potential sales superstars. This impacts your sales team as well, as all those vacant positions ultimately cost you revenue.When you find someone who is a 70+% fit, you should be able to make a very easy and quick decision. Can you help them become the 100% fit you are looking for? If not, move on. But discounting strong candidates because they are not “perfect” can be a big mistake.

The longer you wait around for the virtually nonexistent “purple squirrel” candidate, the more likely your competition might be to scoop up those potential high performers you just passed on. In addition, especially if you’re hiring for a sales role, your market is affected by not having any sales presence, causing both your market share and bottom line to shrink.

So how can you make sure strong candidates don’t slip through your fingers? Here are a few ideas to help.

1. Review the job requirements. How realistic are they? Are you looking for too many years of experience, when you may find strong potentials with just a few?

2. Analyze your hiring process. How many stages are there? Are they all necessary? Where can you optimize the process to free up time and move candidates along faster?

3. Know your competition. Are they recruiting the same types of candidates for similar roles? What are they offering? How do their compensation and benefits stack up with yours? This analysis can help you shore up marketing opportunities for the position, as well as areas for improvement.

4. Be prepared to make decisions quickly. If you are expected to hire entry/mid-level sales talent, your team should be able to make a decision within 1-2 interview stages, perhaps a phone interview, followed by a face-to-face interview. Anything more, and the candidate is already considering other offers.

5. Think outside the box. Consider hiring trainable, strong candidates who may not fill every requirement, but can be molded into great employees. Look for hunger, desire, and other characteristics that may help fuel long-term performance.

Most of all, remember to keep an open mind while hiring. You never know who will walk through the door. Today’s dud might just be tomorrow’s gem.

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