Although a common instinct during periods of economic uncertainty is to put hiring on the backburner, thinking ahead to forecast recruitment needs is the most effective long-term strategy.
As companies worked to stay afloat during the recent global recession, hiring tended to be low on their list of priorities. But as one guide from the Harvard Business Review predicted back in 2009, having a team prepared to handle emerging market needs would prove to be crucial in the years following the recession.
Even today (and especially in the aftermath of Brexit), most companies could stand to benefit from an examination of their talent needs, and many organisations in the UK have already begun to resume their graduate recruitment efforts. However, companies also need to address larger-scale problems of haphazard or ineffective hiring practices in order to be truly effective in their efforts.
Examining Weak Hiring Practices
One shared trait among companies with poor hiring practices is that the thought to hire new people only occurs to them in emergency situations. This makes their hiring practices rushed, depriving the process of the detailed attention required to pinpoint and retain the strongest possible talent. According to the HBR report, 32% of companies reported that candidates for senior positions went through only one to five interviews, most likely because of a pressing need to fill a gap.
Additionally, after surveying 50 CEOs and executive search consultants who rated about 500 firms, HBR found most hiring practices to be vague, personally subjective, or based on outdated organisational traditions.
An in-depth and effective recruiting programme is incredibly valuable to any company - according to HBR, “improving the quality of assessments is three times more profitable than increasing the size of the candidate pool.” Furthermore, “a good assessment yields more than a good candidate… A company can increase its yearly profits and market value by about a third through the disciplined generation and assessment of candidates for a CEO position.” So how can companies improve their candidate assessment protocols?
How Companies Can Bolster Their Long-Term Hiring Prospects
As previously discussed, anticipating the need for new hires means examining which positions may need to be filled in the future. For instance, current top talent may decide to move on to another company, or ageing Baby Boomer managers may be looking to retire.
Effective recruitment also requires that your staff think seriously about what they would ideally expect from employees who fill these positions. Many companies only ask for generic leadership skills instead of defining the particular skills required for the job, and more still neglect to tap into their networks to find connections who can recommend candidates. In order to develop the strongest possible candidate pool, it’s crucial to give extensive thought to the qualities, experience, and skills of any candidate they need to excel.
When you’ve pared your field down to 10 to 12 high-quality candidates, you’ll need to be even more objective in your assessment, which means finding the right interviewer - a trickier and more risky task than it seems. According to HBR, a bad interviewer “increases the risk not only of hiring an unsuitable candidate, but also of rejecting a good candidate.” Potential interviewers can fall prey to a series of unconscious psychological biases that lead to problematic outcomes - discrimination on the basis of race and gender, for example. If an interviewer tends to prefer candidates who are like themselves, they are almost certainly going to make poor hiring decisions.
Great interviewers - people who can properly listen and assess skills and experience with enough awareness to avoid bias - are not always easy to find within an organisation. But there are other solutions to this quandary. For instance, a company can bolster its hiring process by training its senior managers and executives (or employees who already demonstrate some of these skills) to make better hiring decisions. This should be reinforced with other effective assessment techniques: specific questions about a candidate’s relevant experience, a scoring system based on specific desirable attributes, an in-depth discussion of candidate strengths and weaknesses following each interview, and thorough reference checks.
How Video Assessments Can Help
Another helpful method to optimise recruitment programmes is video assessment technology. By screening applicants through video and presenting pre-recorded questions to each candidate, video recruitment allows for a standardised recruitment programme and a more comprehensive picture of each individual candidate. Videos can also be shared among multiple hiring decision-makers, which helps them remain objective and aligned with the best interests of the business.
No matter which method is chosen to strengthen a recruitment programme, it literally pays dividends to implement a system that rigorously assesses candidates on the basis of consistent criteria. Even in times of economic uncertainty, a solid focus on unbiased recruitment techniques can make your hiring process much more effective.