The Recruitment Process – A Better way to Assess Skilled Candidate

The Recruitment process flow Illustration

The Recruitment Process today is not something it used to be ten years ago. With the drastic growth in technology, businesses today can quickly find qualified candidates anywhere in the world. Good candidates have far more excellent options, and it is imperative that recruiters and hiring managers apply modern tools to this “new normal” situation. 

Today, although there is no shortage of candidates, it would appear that employers can easily find the best candidates for their positions in no time. However, it is not that simple as it seems to be. There is a chance of hiring the wrong candidate who can trigger unexpected consequences for your company and influence your positive workplace environment. 

While hiring the best talent for your company, follow the structured process rather than merely your intuitions. Not hiring the right candidate can have a financial impact on one’s organisation.  A competitive market climate for one’s products/services requires acquiring and onboard the best talent and the most cost-effective organisation talent possible. While a candidate’s background and skills are essential, cultural fit is equally important so that the candidate aligns with the company goals and objectives very well. 

In this article, we will describe an ideal interview design process. This article focuses explicitly on the number of ways with which you can quickly improve your recruitment Process and hire the right candidates for your company every time. 

Let’s get started!

An ideal interview design process consists of the following two parts:

  • Part 1: Role Design
  • Part 2: Structured Interview Design

Let’s look at each of them and understand the basic concept of the recruitment process. 

Part 1: Role Design

Firstly, clarify the role for which you are recruiting before designing the interview process. The more clarity you have on the position, the better you can interview the candidate. And the important thing is always to write two job descriptions. 

Let’s get to that task!

To list the tasks and skills required.

We recommend starting your recruitment process by listing all the tasks and activities that the role requires. You need to research the position again if you can’t come up with 25-50 job tasks.

Now, link each task to an activity, and identify the crucial skills required for your candidate to succeed. Here is the screenshot of the task analysis to help your organisation visualise it.

Write the ‘internal’ Job description.

Always write two job descriptions for every role. The first job description is to clarify the role and contains critical information that you wouldn’t share outside your organisation.

Here’s how to structure your internal job descriptions:

  • Job title: Aim for traditional and conventional job titles, and avoid unnecessary title inflation. For example, I don’t hire a CTO for a company having less than 15 employees.
  • Primary responsibilities: Transform the list of activities from the given commitments and responsibilities. 
  • Objectives (and critical results): List out the fundamental goals and metrics of measuring success.
  • Competencies: Analyse the list of skills to be identified. 
  • Known challenges: Outline the problems and challenges that could make the job even harder. 
  • Key stakeholders: List all the people that the candidate will be working with. 
  • Month-one goals: Always make a list of goals and jobs that the candidate will work beforehand.  

Managers mostly get to this detail-oriented process only after finalising their candidate. But having everything prepared beforehand helps you to improve further and refine the interview process and design. 

Compile the external job description

Your external job description has only one purpose, i.e., to attract and encourage as many qualified applicants as possible. It’s simply and solely a marketing document. The more applicants you have, the more chances to contain and hire talented and excellent candidates. The following sections may be considered as suggestions in your external job description: 

  • Job title: As mentioned above.
  • Company Information: This is an excellent way to sell the company’s vision and explain the importance of this role. Explain the opportunity to your candidates.
  • Key responsibilities: Describe the required position’s key responsibilities and remove anything sensitive to the internal version. 
  • Qualifications: List the simplified version of the required qualifications and competencies. 
  • Experience required: Enlist the experience requirements in bullet points.
  • Benefits: Clearly describe and elaborate on the services that you are offering to the candidates. 

New startups often try to make the copy appealing by using transition words like ‘amazing,’ ‘fantastic,’ and ‘world-class’ — or by using funky job titles like ‘ninja.’ Most of the time, it appears as naive. Showing some of the company cultures is excellent; however, merely exaggerating may lead to a loss of credibility. 

To ensure you are attracting the right and excellent pool of candidates, go through Glassdoor’s 10 Ways of Removing Gender Bias from Job Descriptions

How to source candidates?

For attracting the top talent for your company, it’s crucial to make your job description appear in front of high-quality candidates. Try the following steps: 

  • List your job opportunities on popular job boards like indeed, glassdoor, LinkedIn. 
  • Also, promote your job opportunities on your company’s career page and newsletters. 
  • Ask your existing employees for high-quality recommendations.
  • Reach out proactively on Linkedin to ideal candidates. 
  • Post the job on your social media accounts and WhatsApp groups. 
  • You can make use of an agency if your budget allows.
  • Hire an in-house recruiter. 

Be cautious with the recommendations; no doubt, glowing endorsements are a great source of candidates but don’t let them fast-track your standard interview process. 

Part 2: Structured Interview- A Process Design

In a structured interview process design, you rate candidates on their skill requirements based on standardized questions. Why do structured interviews outperform intuitive ones?

According to Daniel Kahneman, in decision-making, algorithms are more accurate than people. We have inherent biases when judging other people. 

Unfortunately, unconscious bias training won’t be helpful. Biases are like optical illusions—they fool you even when you know how it works.

This is the reason why you hire the candidate having a sufficiently high aggregate score and not the one you like the most. 

In other words, you depend on the data and not on your feelings.

To rate your candidates’ skills, you require a behaviourally-anchored rating scale (BARS), which provides specified examples of good and bad performance. Concrete and factual examples of what 1 out of 5 and 5 out of 5 looks like help you focus more on behaviours instead of your intuitions. 

Here’s an example of writing skills to better assess your candidates: 

  • A score of 1 highlight poor grammar, typos, doesn’t follow the word count and disengages generic ideas.
  • A score of 5 highlights good grammar with few typos, concise and straightforward language, persuasive and interactive ideas.

If you don’t have enough data to drive your definitions of good and bad performance, try this thought experiment instead: ‘What specific reasons would make you give a candidate a low or high score in an annual performance evaluation?

An ideal interview process is structured into multiple stages, in each of which you assess different qualities. For junior-to-mid level roles, design your strategy around the following six steps:

  1. Application Questions
  2. Phone Screening (approximately 20-30 minutes)
  3. Pre-employment Evaluation
  4. Practical Assessments
  5. Competency Interview (1.5 hours)
  6. Final Interview (1-1.5 hours)

If you’re hiring a candidate for a senior role or a technical position, you can modify this process as you wish.

For example, you can include a technical interview or additional competency interviews.

1: Application Questions

Checking expectations early saves everyone’s time. For example, do your candidates understand what it’s like to work for startups? Do they want to attempt the required activities or not? Are their progression expectations realistic?

Ask your candidates to answer questions in your job description to screen them for writing skills and alignment of expectations. You can include the following set of questions:

  • Why would you like to work for the XYZ company? 
  • How do you see yourself adding value to a particular job position?
  • Where do you see yourself in two (or five) years?

Assessment criteria on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high):

  • Your Expectations from the candidate⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Communication skills of the candidate⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

2: Phone screening (20-30 minutes)-Interview through mobile/phone.

A brief phone interview can help you determine the candidate’s enthusiasm, diligence, and preparedness for the call. Were the candidates excited about the role? Are the expectations aligning with the company’s goals?

You can send out a friendly short video ahead of the call to provide an overview of the company and the role, the interview process, and the benefits. This will help you to spend less on the call talking and more of it listening.

Phone interviews can be pretty nerve-wracking, so it’s always a good idea to start with some friendly talk. However, do a quick transition into asking your questions to avoid going off track.

To help candidates stay relaxed, ask questions like:

  • What was it like to work at [XYZ company]?
  • What would you be most excited and delighted to work on?
  • What are your expectations about your next position?
  • How can you differently and efficiently perform your role?

As your candidates give their responses, you will better understand their motivations, values, goals, and objectives. 

Finally, ask your candidates the next set of questions and clarify them about the next steps’ recruitment process. 

Assessment criteria on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (excellent):

  • Diligence ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Enthusiasm ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Expectations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

3: Pre-employment Assessments

Pre-employment assessments can help you refine your recruitment process by uncovering valuable personality traits and a candidate’s general cognitive ability to read, write and do basic maths. Better the connection with your candidates on the phone, more are chances that your candidates will invest their time in taking assessments. 

Always implement the following tests for most attracting qualified talents:

  • Numeracy Test (20 minutes)
  • Reading Comprehension Test (20 minutes)
  • Personality Test (20 minutes)

While assessing the results, don’t forget to look for compatibility with the role and the team. For example, if the position involves numbers and problem-solving, you want your candidate to have a high-score in general cognitive and intellectual ability. If the position involves planning and detail-orientation, you want a candidate with high consciousness.

However, not all pre-employment assessments are perfect, and you shouldn’t base a decision directly on their roles.

Assessment criteria on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (great):

  • Cognitive and intellectual ability ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Personality ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

4: Practical Assessments

The first three stages of the interview process are relatively generic, whereas the next three are adapted to assess the role’s specific skills. You can determine skills through interviews or practical assignments.

Always run a practical assessment before the competency interview but after a phone screen. As with pre-employment checks, candidates need to be charmed with your recruitment process, and you also need to believe they’re a good fit for the position and company.

The practical assessments should contribute to a suitable format: design and presentation skills, for example, or planning.

Filter the tasks linked to the task analysis skills and look for skills that would fit a 60-90 minute assessment. Come up with creative assignment ideas. You can choose the following formats:

  • A document, for example: writing a situational email to a client
  • Spreadsheet, for example, financial analysis
  • A plan for a new project
  • Presentation on a new project
  • A design mock-up highlighting a new design sample

When presenting the assignment, create a short story to give some background and explain how it relates to the role. This context helps motivate the candidate. Also, indicate the skills you are assessing, how long the assignment should take, and how the candidate will submit their work.

Assessment criteria on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (excellent):

  • Specific skill 1 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Specific skill 2 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Specific skill 3 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

5: Competency Interview (1 hour)

In this Interview, the main goal is to rate any remaining skills by asking the candidate to reflect on past situations.

There’s an intense debate between recruiters over what types of questions are most effective, but it appears that behavioural problems have the edge. In other words, past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.

You can start the Interview process by asking how the assignment went and what the candidate would have done if they’d had more time. Then, transition quickly into the behavioural Interview.

The secret to creating behavioural interview questions is to ask about extreme and hypothetical situations in which the required skill you’re testing would be essential — i.e., the worst, the hardest, the best, the easiest, and so on. You can use the following examples in your interviews:

  • Tell me about when you felt most overwhelmed at work (the skill to assess: organization).
  • Tell me about a time when you worked closely with someone entirely different from you (the skill of evaluating: adaptability/flexibility).
  • Tell me about the time when you have made the worst mistake at work (the skill of evaluating: conscientiousness).

As the candidate answers, take structured notes using the CARR framework — context, actions, results, and reflection — which helps you remember what candidates said. And ask questions that help you dig deeper into the skill you are assessing, like:

  • What exactly, were you expecting to accomplish?
  • What steps exactly did you take?
  • Can you elaborate on that further?
  • What makes you say that?
  • What bothered you at the time of making that decision?
  • What other options you considered?
  • Anything additional?

Situational interview questions help you reveal if a candidate is a critical thinker or not and how the candidate would behave in a hypothetical work situation. For example, ‘Imagine X happened. What would you do?’ While these questions don’t predict future behaviours, they are useful to assess problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity. 

6: Final round (1-1.5 hours)

When your ideal candidate reaches the final round of Interviews, you should have established valuable insights about them that they’re smart, compatible, and have the role’s skills. This is the last chance to test your candidate.

In this Interview round, go through the internal job description with the candidate. In other words, simulate the discussion you’d have if you’d made them a job offer. There are numerous things to discuss, from objectives and key results to known challenges.

When discussing their month-one goals, ask queries such as:

  • How would you approach a particular problem?
  • What do you see as the challenge there?
  • Have you done anything before similar to that?
  • What exactly should you look in the final round of the Interview? It depends on your company’s culture and values. 

We end with the next steps and an exact decision date, which should not be longer than five working days.

Assessment criteria on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (excellent):

  • Attitude ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Making a final decision

A fair interview process attracts qualified and deserving candidates. There is nothing called the best candidate. Your applicant’s pool is somewhat arbitrary.

As your candidates progress through the interview process, their scorecard will begin to look something like this:

  1. Communication ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Expectations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. Personality ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Cognitive ability ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Diligence ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Enthusiasm ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. Specific skill 1 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. Specific skill 2 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. Specific skill 3 ⭐⭐⭐
  10. Specific skill 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. Specific skill 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. Specific skill 6 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. Attitude ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Design your interview process in such a way that a candidate moves to the next round only if they achieve and maintain an average rating of 3.7 out of 5. That way, you can easily shortlist the qualified candidate for the role. 

The motive of a structured interview is to help you make the decision. The candidate having the highest score receives the job offer. In case you have multiple equally-qualified candidates, then you need to make a judgment call.

Always make conditional offers to your candidates who are time-bound. This helps you to determine the qualified candidate for the required role. 

Looking at the candidate’s experience

Every recruitment process is like a typical sales process. You need to look for the best chance when your candidate can accept the offer. 

You can break your interview design challenge into two chunks: (i) ‘don’t annoy them’ and (ii) ‘make them smile with delight.’ Normally, you get smiles if you don’t annoy your candidates.

Let’s look at the top 10 ways to annoy candidates. Don’t go out of your way to do them.

  1. Publish confusing job descriptions that use tricky or challenging situations.
  2. Create a long application and assessment forms.
  3. Make intentional spelling mistakes in emails and forms.
  4. Fail to clarify a particular process.
  5. Start Interview a little late than the predefined time.
  6. Forget what candidates said in previous interviews.
  7. Offer compensation not in alignment with the market trends.
  8. Give late response to emails.

And now, let’s look at the top 10 ways to make candidates smile with delight. Aim to do as many of these.

  1. Create obvious and helpful resources
  2. Ask questions that your candidates are comfortable answering.
  3. Design fun and interactive work assessments. 
  4. Make the company’s big vision align with the candidate’s goals and objectives.
  5. Provide additional and helpful context, so candidates know what’s going on
  6. Warmly greet candidates to all interview rounds.
  7. Show tokens of appreciation for candidates’ time.
  8. Be detail-oriented
  9. Provide relevant and positive feedback after every Interview round.

 The feedback becomes much more manageable when you have defined your dimensions. 

A final word on the recruitment process:

The recruitment process is challenging and laborious. Even a structured and defined interview process won’t help you in preventing hiring errors. You will come across times where you feel like giving up on candidates and feel like you will never find the right candidate for the position.

However, when it comes to the recruitment process, let the process itself do the heavy lifting. Your job is solely to clarify the role you are hiring for and showing up for the Interview. 

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