Interview process

How to speed up your interview process and win top talent

Today, attracting talent in a competitive job market is crucial. In many cases, candidates are interviewing for several jobs at once, comparing their experience with you against other employers. Your interview process needs to vet your candidates and also woo them into choosing your company over their other opportunities.

In this article, we’ll help answer the questions:

  • What do job candidates want in an interview process?
  • How long should interview processes be?
  • Are there actionable steps organizations can take to speed up the interview process easily?

What candidates want in the interview process

Today’s job seekers are shopping the labor market like career consumers. And during the interview process, they’re looking for scheduling flexibility and considerate communication.

Flexibility

When they reach the interview step, candidates often encounter employers who expect them to fully accommodate their schedules. They may be presented with narrow interview time slots, even when they’re employed elsewhere or are passive candidates who didn’t actively seek the new job opportunity. But what candidates really want from potential employers is interview schedule flexibility and meetings that are easy to fit onto their crowded calendars.

You can offer this flexibility by:

  • Offering evening or weekend interviews, maybe meeting at a local coffee shop if your offices are closed during those hours
  • Arranging video job interviews instead of meeting in person

These accommodations can eliminate candidates’ need to take time off at their current jobs or reduce that time by eliminating travel.

Considerate communication

It’s not uncommon for candidates to interview for a role and go months without feedback or get ghosted altogether by hiring managers. Both of these scenarios are completely contrary to what candidates actually want in the job interview process: considerate communication.

You can provide a courteous interview experience by:

  • Sharing pertinent information – Before an interview, give candidates the details about whom they will meet and what they can expect.
  • Giving timely follow up – Aim to get back to a candidate 24 hours after each interview. (Even if you don’t have a decision made, it’s best practice to reach out and keep the candidate warm until you do.)
  • Providing feedback – Offer personalized feedback after interviews, including the reasons candidates will or won’t move forward in the process.

Job applicants today expect a polished, pleasant candidate experience from start to finish, including the interview. Providing your interviewees with the scheduling flexibility and considerate communication they want will distinguish your organization from other employers.

How long should the interview process take?

The length of the interview process depends heavily on the role for which you’re hiring. So in reality, there’s no one right answer on how long your interview process should be.

However, when it comes to duration, there are a couple of factors employers should be cognizant of throughout the interview process:

  • Your organization is probably not a candidate’s only option.
  • Depending on the current demand for talent in your industry or in certain professions, candidates can go off the market within 10 days, five days or in as little as 24 hours.

In other words, your interview process should take no more time than is necessary to make an informed hiring decision.

How to speed up interviews: 6 tips

Faster interviewing is better for employers and candidates. A few smart steps can help you achieve a more efficient interview process without sacrificing quality.

1. Interview fewer candidates altogether

The fewer people you put through your interview process, the faster it can go. But cutting back on interviewees requires proper vetting at the front-end of your hiring process. Investing more time in applicant screening can be worth it, really helping you improve the interview experience for your top three to five recruits.

2. Be prepared to make an offer before you start interviewing

Sometimes offer approval steps are what slow the interview process down. Having your compensation budget approved before you even advertise a job opening enables you to make a quick offer when you’ve interviewed the right candidate.

3. Consolidate interviews

Traditionally, employers have used multiple rounds of interviews to select top candidates. When time is of the essence, however, consolidating interviews can speed up the process.

For example, if you have multiple people needing to conduct interviews:

  • Could you do a panel interview instead?
  • Could you block off time for back-to-back interviews with the candidate, so the candidate doesn’t have to come back multiple times?
  • Could you share one recorded video interview with all the stakeholders (with the candidate’s permission)?

4. Prune your list of interview questions

Get everyone who interacts with your candidates on the same page to ensure you’re not duplicating interview questions but using your time with the candidate wisely. Decide which interview questions you truly need to ask and what responses you need to hear in order to be sound in your decision-making. Consider cutting any questions that aren’t truly necessary.

5. Gather info about candidates’ other options

It’s wise to gather information about your candidates’ other opportunities during your first conversation.

For example, you can ask:

  • Do you have any other offers on the table?
  • Are you in final interviews for any other positions?

Some candidates aren’t comfortable sharing these details, but many are. If they’re interested in your opportunity enough, they often want to share if they’re considering other options. This information can help you understand candidates’ timelines better and know when to accelerate your recruiting process accordingly.

6. Bypass unnecessary hiring steps

If there are any pre-employment assessments that you use during your interview process but don’t rely on too heavily, you might consider skipping these in tight labor markets. Reference checking is another step that may not be necessary when speed is your goal, as most candidates choose references who they know will say positive things about them.

On the other hand, it’s always worth your time to do at least one in-depth interview and also a background check. These are hiring steps you never want to bypass.

With these strategies, you can speed up interviewing and still get a strong sense of which candidate should get the job offer.

Summing it all up

Job seekers today expect an outstanding candidate experience that features interview scheduling flexibility and courteous communication throughout the process.

Because they may have multiple job opportunities to consider at once, the first employer to reach the end of the interview process and make an offer often gets the hire. That’s why using smart strategies to speed up the interview process should be of high importance to organizations that want to fill open roles and keep them from turning into long vacancies.

Even so, it’s wise to remember that all positions are different, and there’s no one gold standard when it comes to interview process length. Always be sure to evaluate what makes the most sense for each role.

From posting a job opening to interviewing to onboarding new hires, talent acquisition can be a lot of work. Not sure if your company is following best practices? Download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to attracting, recruiting and hiring top talent.

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