I’ve read a bunch of articles lately about how companies are taking weeks and months to fill open positions. Most of this press is attributable to large companies with many layers of decisionmakers. If you are lucky enough to be a hiring manager for a small company, this is great news! Let’s face it – small companies have a hard time finding, attracting and hiring top talent against larger organizations with bigger budgets, higher salary bands and better benefits. It’s just tough to stand out in the big company crowd!
Here is a secret: Most people hate looking for a new position. They may have decided that this is the year to make a change because the market is looking up. They have been in hiding through the recession and they know that they are underpaid, underutilized and underappreciated – yet they stay in an unhappy place because the thought of looking for a job is worse than staying put.
This month we’re going to talk about the interview process. I’m not talking about the process of finding the right candidate. You should never settle for a candidate just because you want to fill a position. The identification and vetting process is very important to getting the right people in the right places for your company. But, once you’ve identified the candidate you have in your mind – make it happen!
Once they start the interviewing process they just want it to be over as quickly as possible. Here is where you come in! You are a small company hiring manager and you have the agility to act quickly – AHHHH! Let’s go!
1. When you post a position, talk to the applicant – entice them, make the position sound interesting, talk about what it’s like to work for your company, sell them on the opportunity. Dry, task oriented descriptions attract dry, task oriented candidates.
2. Make it easy to apply. A simple 5 minute registration and attach a resume. The process of screening applicants should be done be a HUMAN, not a SYSTEM. Better yet, give them an email so they can reply directly.
3. Respond to each applicant. If someone is taking the time to show interest in your company then you should take the time to thank them and let them know you’ve received their application. Let them know what the process is and when they should expect to hear from you. This is simply the right thing to do.
4. Schedule a brief phone call with qualified candidates – within 24 hours. If they look like they have potential then reach out to them quickly. Keep in mind that not everyone knows how to write a resume – that’s not a bad thing. It just means that they don’t spend a lot of time writing resumes and applying to jobs – those are probably the good ones – think about it!
5. Don’t tell applicants not to call. You actually want to hear from folks who are interested in your company. Take their calls and make note of their follow up, behavior, communication skills, professionalism – these candidates are really interested and want you to know it.
6. Respect their time. Be aware that candidates are busy people, with busy lives. They can’t afford to take multiple days off to interview so collapse your interview process into a single onsite period. Top performers are conscientious and loyal – they will be selective about taking time away from their current position. This might mean scheduling early morning interviews or staying a little later in the day to meet them. The effort WILL pay off when you hire the right people.
7. Be decisive – Immediately following the interview gather your selection team for a brief feedback session. Collect thoughts, have your discussion and if everyone gives a thumb’s up – make the offer right away! You may have some pre-hire diligence to complete (references, background check) but let the candidate know of your intent. This will reduce their search activity level and keep them engaged with you.
8. Don’t pay under market – even if you can. Offering a below market salary to a candidate who has not been paid well in the past will only work in the short term. You’ll probably get them to work for you, but once they get wind of the market for their skills – especially if they’re really good, they will likely go somewhere else, where their value is recognized.
9. Closure for everyone. Once you select your finalists, remember to close the process with those who weren’t selected. Wondering what happened and why they never heard back from you is very damaging to your reputation. I recently had a client who, because he made a call to a candidate personally to let them know they weren’t selected, received a referral to a friend of this candidate, who ultimately received an offer. If he hadn’t made the call, he wouldn’t have received the referral.
10. Onboarding for success. The courtship process for top performers can’t end the day they walk in the door. The first few weeks are most critical. This is when your brand new employee is most vulnerable. They are evaluating their decision, their team members, their surroundings, the vibe, the company’s leadership, the coffee – everything! Make sure that you help them through the transition period and recognize this is a big change for them. Earn their loyalty early and you’ll have a happy, productive asset!
Remember, your hiring process is a reflection of you as an employer – selective is ok, restrictive is not. As a small company your secret weapon is your ability to act quickly – take advantage of it. Happy Hiring!
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