Back to basics for hiring managers forced into shortcuts

Although "The Great Resignation" is no longer dominating headlines, employers are still experiencing an array of hiring challenges. Because unemployment rates are historically low and there are more jobs than interested workers to fill them, some organizations have loosened their recruiting practices to fill open positions.

Unfortunately, a number of these selection shortcuts have resulted in bad hires, leading to higher turnover and ultimately poor organizational performance. The time, money and headaches involved have taught painful lessons about the importance of a consistent set of proven practices before making an offer of employment.

There is no question that the pandemic and its aftermath had many hiring managers living by the cliché, "desperate times call for desperate measures." The inability to fill positions in a timely manner, especially in industries hardest hit by turnover or unusually high demand, prompted a "fast track" approach to hiring where essential steps were sometimes skipped or eliminated altogether.

Steps often trimmed from the process include pre-screening interviews, probing candidates regarding significant gaps in their employment history, behavioral interview questions, in-person interviews, background and reference checking, and preemployment assessments. Most employers didn't cut every step for every hire, but many took some legal risks by electing to skip specific steps for certain candidates or positions.

Understandably, the pressure to hire in a competitive labor market clouded good judgment and now employers are paying the price. How do we remediate the damage? I recommend a back-to-basics approach.

This doesn't mean that a historically long or cumbersome process needs to be re-established. The take-away from this period of rushed hiring is that the process could use a reboot to ensure that a consistent, but efficient, set of steps is followed ensuring the selection of the most qualified candidate for each position.

First, make sure the job description is current and appropriately describes the responsibilities of the job as well as the skills and experience required. Next, write a job posting that is clear and succinct.

Then, consider where candidates for each position will be looking for jobs. While Indeed and LinkedIn are very popular, these sites are more effective for white-collar, professional positions. Don't forget about local high schools, trade schools, community colleges and industry associations. All may have very active job boards or career services offices that can help send jobseekers your way.

Before people start applying, determine your selection criteria and ensure that it will be consistently applied. You may decide to waive education requirements for candidates with on-the-job or life experience. This is a great way to diversify your applicant pool.

Given the pressure on compensation in these inflationary times, it's also vital to establish the pay range and benefits package prior to conducting interviews. Today's candidates are not shy about asking salary and benefits questions early in the process. Savvy employers are ready to respond.

The interview process itself will vary by position, but consistent steps should be followed for each candidate applying for the same job. Determine what kinds of interviews (e.g., pre-screening, team, virtual, in-person) yield the best results and write a specific set of interview questions for each position focused on learning meaningful, job-related information about the candidates.

Once you have qualified candidates, don't forget to administer validated preemployment assessments and conduct reference or background checks if appropriate. Skipping these steps has resulted in significant regret for plenty of hiring managers.

The good news is that it is possible to speed up the hiring process and hire talented individuals without taking on unnecessary risks, legal troubles or subpar hires. Now is the time to evaluate and improve your hiring process and boost your successful hire rate.

• Mary Lynn Fayoumi is President and CEO at HR Source.

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