January 31st, 2019

How to review you hiring process (and make it stronger)

According to the latest Global Recruiting Trends report, 78% of HR experts and hiring managers feel that diversity is extremely important to hiring practices. In fact it’s at the top of the list, beating out new interviewing tools, data and AI by a rather large margin.

Diversity isn’t just another metric to keep track of. Today companies want to do more than just hire diverse candidates- because that’s not enough.

They want employees to feel included- to feel safe and at home in the workplace. Because that feeling drives performance - and happiness- in everyone.

The numbers supporting this trend are compelling. The majority of companies are extremely focused on diversity, inclusion and belonging.

Market interest on diversity, inclusion, and belonging

Source: LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends Report

Attracting great candidates and making them feel comfortable and relaxed partly depends on your hiring process. And like any other process, it’s got a decay rate. It needs to be reviewed and optimized regularly so that it keeps doing its best for you and your team.

But what’s the best way to analyze, review and improve your hiring process so that you attract diverse candidates?

We’ll walk through the exact three-step process you can use to do that. But first, let’s talk about why a process is crucial and how reviewing it helps you build a stronger team (and helps your company bring in more revenue). Because when you’ve got a million and one things to do, carving out the time for a process review doesn’t always make it to the top of the list.

A solid process can save lives

Processes aren’t the most exciting things in the world but they have a big effect on performance. Sometimes they can even save your life.

Did you know that hospitals have a much higher rate of incidents in the afternoon? When you compare them to morning hours, it’s pretty terrifying. Here are just a few of the numbers:

  • Nurses and caregivers are 10% less likely to wash their hands before treating a patient- this increases the chance for an infection
  • You are three times more likely to receive a fatal dose of anesthesia
  • The chance of getting prescribed unnecessary antibiotics for a viral infection by an internist is 26% higher

Why does performance suddenly drop in the afternoon? Simple. The hospital staff gets tired. The late-afternoon slump has a profound effect on professionals of all stripes. But it’s preventable- as long as you’ve got a process in place.

Dr. Kevin Tremper- the chairman of the Michigan Medical School’s Department of Anesthesiology- found that you could decrease errors by simply getting each person to step back before acting and quickly complete a “pre-induction verification.”

The process takes a few minutes where everyone checks they’ve got the right patient, the right patient data and cover all contingencies. This simple “check-in” got rid of the “traditional” afternoon problems we just mentioned, increased the quality of care, decreased complications and made both patients and doctors feel more comfortable.

Introducing a simple, repeatable process saved (and improved) lives at the Michigan Medical School.

So what does hospital data have to do with improving your hiring process? Your process acts as that check in - it helps keep everyone on the same page. It helps you hiring team have a great day even when they are exhausted.

Because this slump goes beyond decreased performance at hospitals. When we are tired, we are prone to make decisions based on different psychological biases. A bias acts like a shortcut- a fast, energy-conserving way for your brain to come up with an answer without going through the rigor of analyzing everything in front of it.

A robust process counteracts that by setting out explicit guidelines and bringing you back into a focused state. That’s why a process can be one of your most powerful assets. Now let’s get into how you can review and optimize your existing hiring process.

Deploy these three simple steps

Lila Kelly- the founder of Lila Kelly Associates, a group focused on increasing diversity and inclusivity in the workplace helps companies around the US create and implement online training courses all about diversity hiring. She suggests breaking down your hiring process into three parts to help review it:

  • The recruiting process. How you get candidates into your pipeline and where they come from.
  • The interviewing process. How you set up and conduct interviews.
  • The hiring process. A look at the entire hiring process with specific questions in mind.

Let’s examine how you can review each part and see what steps you can take to make specific improvements.

1. Review your recruiting process

Where are your candidates coming from? How you generate your pipeline affects the entire hiring process. If you are only focusing on one or two different sources, then this is the first place to look.

Run a pipeline review

This will be easier to do if you keep records of where your current pipeline is coming from. What sources bring in most of your hires? Where do you run the majority of events? What job boards do you post on? If you don’t keep a record of this, now is a good time to start.

Up until recently, Google used to mostly hire from top colleges. So did Facebook. And so did a lot of other companies. But limiting your pipeline limits your access to talent because talent isn’t all based in one place. If you want to increase your access to diverse talent, the easiest step is to adjust your pipeline.

We covered the exact way to do this in quite a bit of detail in this article so I’m only going to share a quick overview right now. You can:

  • Use diversity-focused referral software like JobFit
  • Hold events at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic colleges, tribal colleges and state schools in lower income areas outside the main urban centers
  • Partner up with trusted community organizations
  • Hold digital hiring events for people who live outside the area
  • Network in diverse communities
  • Post on job boards that focus on diversity and inclusivity

By reviewing and expanding your pipeline, you’ll start attracting a more diverse candidate pool. But once people are in your hiring pipeline, you still need to get them through the interview process.

2. Review your interviewing process

Interviews can be nerve-wracking for both your potential hires and for the interviewers themselves.

Your interview panel has a weighty responsibility. In just a few short conversations, they need to identify someone that’s going to do a great job in your organization. Someone that’s smart and talented and hardworking. And they need to get it right consistently.

This isn’t easy.

However, by reviewing your interview process you can find ways to make the whole thing a lot less stressful for both candidates and your team.

How clear are your hiring objectives?

One of the biggest reasons we struggle to make decisions is a lack of clarity. In the world of website design and user interfaces, lack of clarity is one of the biggest conversion killers. If people don’t know what to do next they tend to leave.

Leaving is not an option for your interview panel so they do something else instead- they fill in the gaps in information.

Because that kind of thinking happens fast and in the moment, our brains tend to use our pre-programmed shortcuts: the psychological biases that affect daily decision making. That’s why there are a couple of things you need to review in order to decrease the effects of different cognitive biases.

1. Create explicit objectives for each role.

Is the job description for the role absolutely clear? Do interviewers know the exact minimum skills and experience a candidate needs to have to do the job? Do they know exactly what they are looking for?

Because if they don’t, their brains will fill in the gaps. The clearer you are here, the more you eliminate the need to make assumptions.

2. Use specific interview questions that help you decide whether the candidate is a great fit for this particular role.

Are the interview questions specific to the role? Do they help your panel discover exactly who your best prospects are? Do they provide enough information to make a smart decision? The questions should help you dig out exactly what you need to see in the candidate.

3. Avoid asking leading questions.

Specificity isn’t the only thing to review your questions for. When going over them, make sure you are not leading the candidate to an answer you want to hear. That’s why you need to ask better questions.

A good way to review these is to use journalism basics as a guide. Traditionally journalists are trained to avoid accidentally leading the source and to minimize their own bias in their reporting. You can use those principles to form your own interview questions.

4. Make sure your interview panel represents the company as you’d like it to be.

A diverse interview panel has a couple of benefits. On average, they’ll make a more thorough hiring decision because they share information better. And on the candidate side, a diverse panel can make them feel more comfortable because it indicates that your team is open to everyone.

3. Review your hiring process

The whole is more than the sum of its parts. That’s why even though you’ve reviewed the two key components of the hiring process thoroughly, it’s vital to review them together. This can shine a light on any further improvement opportunities in your hiring process.

Identify barriers for diverse candidates

What’s standing in the way of diverse candidates applying for positions with you? If your hiring process isn’t attracting the people you’d like to hire, then it’s time to examine the potential reasons why.

When Ryan Carson- the CEO of Treehouse- decided to increase diversity at his company, he realized that there were barriers standing in the way. He revealed one specific, powerful barrier after interviewing more than 50 people from under-represented groups who had great careers in tech. He found that a lot of people from those groups did not trust the industry and did not believe they could find a place in it.

To battle that, Treehouse started a pilot apprenticeship program by teaming up with a local community organization- a boys and girls group- that was trusted by the community. This pilot program led to hiring three great apprentices.

Look at your own hiring process and identify any barriers that are preventing people from applying for the open positions at your company. One simple way to start getting some answers is by embedding an optional one-question survey at the end of each application and asking this question:

What almost prevented you from applying for this position?

The answers you get are a great starting point for identifying potential barriers to application.

Make the hiring process as simple as possible

One of the easiest ways to improve hiring is to try to make it as simple as possible for both the interviewers and the candidates. That means identifying all the potential breaks and simplifying them. Your goal should be to make a seamless experience and reduce the chances for friction.

But simplicity isn’t enough. You also need to track and review your process regularly. Make sure you schedule time to review the tracking data and optimize your process so that you keep attracting fantastic candidates that make your company a better, more profitable place for everyone.