By Liz Ryan, Forbes.com Contributor
Most companies do a terrible job at recruiting, because they are working from an outdated playbook. They have the wrong idea about what a recruiting process should look like.
If you need talent to power your business — and I don’t know of any organization that doesn't — you can't make your recruiting process so unfriendly to job-seekers that it drives the best candidates away.
However, that is exactly what most medium-sized and large organizations do.
They add more and more steps to the recruiting process all the time, until the only people willing to stick it out are the most desperate — which is to say, the least marketable — candidates around.
Here's the right way to hire people:
1. Design a job that is not just a collection of tasks, but a meaty assignment that a smart and capable person will get excited about.
2. Write a job ad that makes clear how the new employee will make a difference to their department and the company's overall success; that describes the fun, intellectually challenging and creative parts of the job; that lays out the hours, the amount of travel expected, the salary range and any other perks of the role; and that asks applicants to do something that requires thought if they're interested in applying — not a job ad that instructs them to fill out an online application!
3. Respond to applicants quickly — within a day or two. A quick review of the responses will tell you which folks are not a good match (people who didn't read the job ad, didn't respond appropriately, etc.) and folks whose materials warrant further review. Get in touch with everybody in each group by sending a polite “no thanks” message to one group and “Thanks for your response — we will get back to you quickly” to the other group.
4. Schedule interviews to happen fast — within a week of the applicant’s response to your ad.
5. Send each candidate an interview invitation that allows them to choose the best date and time for their schedule. Don’t make them fill out tests or submit references at this stage. You don’t need that information to decide which people you will interview. That’s a stalling technique that weenies love and real HR and recruiting people hate — because it gives a good reason for the best candidates to flee!
6. Send each confirmed interviewee an email message that invites them to ask you questions via email before the interview — or even better, get on the phone with them to answer their questions. Their questions are more important than your questions are. The last thing you want to do is get to the end of a one-hour interview, finally give the applicant a chance to ask their questions and realize with horror that the person sitting on front of you can’t take the job for a scheduling reason, a compensation reason or some other issue. Get all that addressed up front!
7. Make your interviews human conversations, not interrogations. Throw away the interview script. Good interviewers don’t need a script. First, ask the candidate if they have any questions for you before you begin. If you spend the whole hour answering their questions, that’s fine. That’s ideal! The more on-the-ball someone is, the more questions they will have. Smart interviewers know that an applicant’s questions tell you much more about them than their answers to your questions ever could.
8. Get clear on what the candidate needs in order to be able to accept the job. Recruiters are salespeople. Any HR person or hiring manager who interviews candidate must go into sales mode, too. You are always selling candidates on your opportunities — not by talking to them, but by listening to them. You have a decision to make — which candidate is best-suited for this job? But they have an even bigger decision to make. Are they ready to invest their time, energy and reputation in your company, and in you? If you do not see the importance of the sales role in your job, you are not ready to interview people.
9. Be upfront about the challenges of the job. Don’t sugarcoat anything. Go ahead and say, “It’s a great job. The last week of the month is taxing, no doubt. We are working on making that last week easier. You could help us with that.” Lying by omission is just as bad as telling an outright lie.
10. Before you extend an offer, make a “Supposal.” This is where you say, “Suppose we wanted to hire you and you wanted to work here. What would it take to get you on the team —base, bonus, benefits and otherwise?” One candidate might say, “I would need to leave early on Thursdays.” Better to find that out now than later!
These 10 steps are easier, faster, less expensive and more fun than the standard, slow-as-molasses, sludgy recruiting process and will help you make better hires.