Understanding the Three Key Roadblocks to Hiring Process Efficiency

Posted on June 1, 2022

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Candidate ExperiencePower skills/Soft skillsQuality of Hire

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Today’s US unemployment rate is 3.6% (May 2022). In such a tight labor market, where candidates hold a tremendous amount of negotiating power, hiring teams are under significant pressure to make their hiring processes more efficient. I would also argue that hiring efficiency matters regardless of the market. Companies that hire the right people in the right roles quickly have a competitive advantage in terms of time and cost saved, as well as accelerated business milestones.

I’ve written recently about how to fix reference checks to prevent them from slowing down hiring, but another way to overcome several hiring roadblocks is to measure Quality of Hire (QoH). 

Searchlight defines QoH as the impact that each new hire has on an organization – essentially a metric that shows the value recruiting and hiring brings to that process. But how can measuring QoH help HR, Talent and Employer Brand leaders improve or remove some common hiring roadblocks? Let’s look at the three major ones.

Roadblock #1: Making Mishires

The biggest hiring roadblock is a simple one – hiring the wrong person. According to a study by Washington, D.C.- based leadership and training company Leadership IQ, 46% of newly hired employees fail within their first 18 months. And the estimated cost of a bad hire ranges from six to 27 times the amount of their salary, which is a potentially huge amount of money wasted.

Talent leaders and recruiters actually build first-year attrition rates into their capacity models. For example, if their headcount goal is 200, but first-year attrition is 20%, they need to plan to hire 240 people. If they can figure out how to decrease attrition by 25%, that is 10 fewer hires to make. That’s half of their recruiting resources saved.

Mishires happen for several reasons, but the most common is a mismatch between the employer and the candidate’s soft skills or behavioral traits. This account for 89% of all mishires! No matter how experienced or qualified a candidate is, if they don’t work in the same way as the team they’ll be joining (for example, if they prefer to work individually and their team is very collaborative, or they are very goal-oriented while others are more relationship-oriented), they’ll struggle to excel in that new role. This is a two-way alignment between the candidate and the organization–there are no “good” or “bad” traits overall.

Measuring QoH within the first 90 days allows recruiters and talent leaders to understand if they made the right hiring decisions and how to improve it. Building a feedback loop that connects a new hire’s skills and traits with the hiring outcome allows companies to learn what traits to look for in candidates so they can hire better in the future. Better yet, understanding hiring outcomes early enough allows companies to intervene to support a new hire and prevent potential attrition from happening. We can’t manage what we can’t measure; measuring Quality of Hire is the first step to managing attrition’s effects on hiring efficiency.

Roadblock #2: Hiring Without Scoping the Right Talent Profile 

The hiring team has completed their final interviews and the candidate seems like a good fit, but something intangible is making the team reluctant to give them an offer. Everyone’s a little bit nervous about moving forward, but can’t quite explain why, so they decide to either pass on the candidate or do another round of interviews. Sound familiar?

This hesitancy to make a hiring decision adds days or weeks to a hiring process or worse, leads teams to miss out on a great hire and have to start rebuilding the candidate pipeline.

Properly scoping and aligning on the right competencies, soft skills, culture alignment, career aspirations for a role ahead of interviews is one of the best ways to improve hiring efficiency. Knowing what the right talent is means you can confidently hire the first person you find who has that talent. But this is easier said than done; 51% of recruiters say hiring managers need to be better at communicating their talent needs.

One method to help hiring managers and teams get more alignment is building personas (otherwise known as ideal candidate profiles) for a new role based on existing employees. However, personas are difficult to build, time-consuming, and susceptible to bias. One customer told us that it took them a year to create their personas, and by then they were all out of date!

Measuring QoH provides the data needed to build employee personas much more quickly, backed by contextual data for a unique company and updated on a continuous bias with every new hire. Tracking QoH over time can also give the hiring team confidence that they are making the correct decisions (or that they’ll be able to tell if they are not). This feedback loop can get all invested parties on the same page.

It can also eliminate interviews. Zapier used Searchlight to eliminate a two-hour interview stage and replace reference checks with high-signal data on competencies, soft skills, values alignment, and career aspirations. This led them to save 1000+ hours and cut time-to-fill by 7 days.

The value of shortening your interview process compounds. J.T. Haskell, Zapier’s director of talent acquisition said, “This change has saved an average of 7 days per hire, provided greater actionable feedback to our hiring managers, and created a better candidate experience.” In a competitive hiring situation, a better hiring experience means candidates are more likely to accept your offer and lead to a closed search.

Roadblock #3: Poor Interviewers

Research shows structured interviews are far more accurate than unstructured interviews, and they require a lot of training, standardized deliberate question rubrics, and constant vigilance to temper our unconscious bias. It’s not easy and not something all interviewers can do.

People rarely get the necessary practice and experience to be experienced interviewers. As a consequence, companies need too many interviews to assess for the right talent, deliver a poor  candidate experience, miss out on great talent, and/or make mishires. All these things create the inefficiencies discussed in the previous two sections.

This is why many companies, famously Amazon, create Bar Raiser programs. Select people are trusted to interview and assess accurately and become the last say in the hiring decision. In order to enter the Bar Raiser training program at Amazon, a person needs to have completed a certain number of interviews, have shown high judgment during those interviews and meet some accuracy metrics.

But what if you’re not Amazon and don’t have a way to find your Bar Raisers? Measuring QoH is how you can see your leaderboard of good interviewers based on actual hiring outcomes. It’s especially important to measure your own QoH considering how someone who is good at hiring at Amazon may not be great at hiring for your company depending on its industry, size, and stage of growth.

Measuring QoH Means Better, Faster Hiring

Not only will measuring QoH help organizations move fast and stay competitive while fighting for talent in a tight labor market, but it also helps refine the hiring process so HR and Talent leaders can consistently bring in high-quality candidates. Measuring QoH will help set your hiring program up for success no matter the state of the talent market.

Kerry Wang

Co-Founder & CEO Kerry is the co-founder and CEO of Searchlight. After studying both Org Psychology and Computer Science at Stanford, she loves nerding out on all things people, psychology, and tech. On the weekend, you’ll find her reading a book or watching reality TV.

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