Well, let me share a story. Many moons ago I was dating a great guy. Smart, funny, handsome, gainfully employed, liberty-minded…the whole nine yards. But after a long spell of dating, he was clearly afraid of commitment. So, I dumped him.
If this gentleman were an employer, you could say that his interview process went on too long and he lost a good candidate. This, of course, is a great lesson for nonprofits in hiring mode: efficiency matters.
With that in mind, here are five tips for having an efficient interview process.
- Don’t start the hiring process until you’re ready to hire.
Case in point: not too long ago we worked on a search during which the applicant pool shaped up very nicely after just a few weeks. The candidates were excited about the opportunity and we were thrilled that our client had so many good options. That’s when our client dropped the bomb: they decided they wanted to hold off on making a hire for another couple of months. Not surprisingly, the candidates’ interest level quickly waned and we lost several of them during that period.
Waiting until you’re ready to hire will save your organization time and energy and keep applicants happy.
- Everyone and his grandmother does not need to be involved in the process.
We’re big believers in involving multiple staff members in the interview process, as it provides a more robust evaluation of applicants and creates team buy-in. But involving more than one staff member doesn’t necessarily mean involving every single one.We had a candidate tell us recently that she thought the client was joking when they asked her to come in again for an 8th interview (she had already met with more than a dozen staff members in the first seven interviews). Alas, if candidates think you’re joking about your interview process, it’s probably time to get serious about paring it down!
- Make hiring a priority
Let’s face it: you’re busy. This week you’re launching a major direct mail campaign. Next is your annual dinner. The week after is vacation. And the week after that you have six donor meetings in three cities. Oh, and you’re in the middle of making a critical hire.It’s tempting to push aside hiring when things get hairy, but don’t forget why you’re hiring in the first place: you need more hands on deck! When hiring is not a priority for you, candidates can sense it. Just like dating, the person you are courting wants to feel important. Don’t give them a reason to think otherwise!
- Don’t let uncertainty stall the process
A client once confessed to us that the reason the interview process had stalled on their end was that they were uncertain about one of the candidates. If you’re unsure about a candidate, the best way to find clarity is to acquire more information. And the best way to acquire more information is to move the process forward, whether that means interviewing the candidate again, asking the candidate for more information, giving the candidate a writing assignment, checking references, etc. Stalling won’t help you find clarity, but more information will!
- Eliminate roadblocks
Last year we worked on a search that was moving along swimmingly. All of a sudden, it came to a grinding halt for a number of weeks. Candidates began to ask questions and contemplate other jobs. It turns out that one of the individuals involved in the hiring process couldn’t find time to interview candidates, so the process simply stopped when it became his turn to evaluate the talent pool. Thankfully, the hiring manager identified the problem and removed the person from the process. Like clockwork, things began moving forward again and in short order a hire was made. Roadblocks such as this can cost you a good candidate if not several. Make sure everyone involved understands the need for efficiency, and if they don’t, make the process work without them.
Whether you’re in hiring or dating mode, following these tips will put you in the best position to acquire the best talent. And as for the guy I broke-up with, he dramatically improved his interview process by returning with a ring. Lesson learned.