How to Optimize your Hiring Process – 6 Steps to Finding Better Candidates more Quickly by Mile Živković on Feb 20, 2019

Hunting for great talent is tough. In-demand fields, such as IT, have a shortage of people and a large number of openings and it’s understandable that finding great talent can be quite a struggle. However, there could be other reasons why your company is falling short in its search for new employees.

If your hiring process is too long, too complicated or lacks transparency, not even the best of job offers will help finding good candidates. Here are a few tried and tested ways to maximize your hiring efforts and get the best talent in the job market.

How to optimize the hiring process

There are no easy hacks when it comes to getting the most out of your hiring process, but applying some of these tactics will greatly improve the quality of your candidates, as well as other relevant metrics such as time to hire and cost per hire.

1. Identify which steps have room for improvement

Try to be completely realistic with your hiring process and analyze your data. Do you have a low number of applicants with a large number of visits to your job ads? Is the amount of qualified candidates very low compared to the total amount of applicants? Perhaps your time to hire is absurdly long and you need to fill your vacancies quickly.

Whichever the case, no hiring process is perfect. Unless you’re a company such as Google with an unlimited talent pool and a phenomenal employer brand, each company’s hiring process has room for improvement.

2. Plan ahead

Recruiters and hiring managers don’t (usually) use crystal balls to help them in their line of work, but it’s extremely beneficial if they can look into the company’s future needs.

First line of work is for the HR team to talk to the departments that need to hire new talent. There is often a discrepancy between the kind of employee that the department needs and the kind of employee that the HR team thinks is a good fit. If the two sides communicate well, they can establish exactly the kind of people the company needs in the future.

One of the great ways of making sure your hiring needs are set for the future is to build talent pools – groups of potential employees which are interested in working with the company. You can do this by keeping in touch with previous applicants, continuously working on your employer brand and in general making sure that you’re always presenting yourself as a desirable employer.

Alternatively, you can hire an agency that already has an established talent pool but bear in mind that this will A) be more and expensive and B) not produce candidates which are interested in your specific company.

3. Help candidates apply more easily

If you take a look at your data and see a poor ratio of job ad visits to applications, it’s time to examine your application process. According to research, more than 60% of candidates drop out mid-way through their applications because the process is either too complex or takes too much time. Here are some of the ways you can help them apply more easily.

First, make your application process shorter. You may think that your company is a great place to work and the applicant should dedicate their time to your application if they really want the job. In fact, CareerBuilder’s research has shown that 50% of company representatives think that long application processes are great for hiring because they filter out bad applicants.

Just bear in mind that you’re competing with hundreds of other companies for the best talent on the job market, and they won’t spend an hour applying to your position if they can click away and move on to the next company. Much like you, the candidates have options as well.

So, how long should your application process be? There’s no clear data, but the latest reports show that 20% of applicants drop off if it takes more than 10 minutes to apply, which translates to about 2-3 pages on mobile.

Pro Tip: Bear in mind that preparing a CV or a resume can take hours and sometimes even a whole day for a candidate. At the end, you end up with a nicely crafted document by a candidate who is good at it, but might not be that good for the job in question. This is why you should remove this obstacle and improve your candidate experience by introducing a 10-minute skills test that will be fun, but yet squeeze out the most important out of them.

Want to try recruiting using skills-tests? 👉 Get Started Now

Second, make sure your applications are mobile-friendly. According to Appcast’s report, the number of job applications from mobile devices increased by 18% between 2016 and 2017, with tendencies for growth with each upcoming year. Research shows that 86% of candidates start their job search on mobile – and you can let them finish it on mobile as well.

Third, remove all unnecessary clutter. The perfect application process is one that doesn’t put candidates off but at the same time demands enough from them to only produce qualified applicants. Start by removing references from the list of required application elements. If you do need them, ask for them later on, as candidates approach the interview stage.

Moreover, reduce friction by not demanding cover letters in the application. Candidates can take hours to craft a great motivational letter, and many will give up on applying before even starting, knowing how much time it takes to complete it.

Finally, you can ditch the resumes. It may seem like a bold move, but it’s what we’ve been doing at Hundred5 ever since we started. Instead of a resume, simply ask the candidates to do a short skills test to see if they can do what the job demands of them.

4. Reduce time needed to screen candidates (and use skills-testing instead)

In modern hiring, there are many obstacles to overcome, and one of the biggest is the sheer volume of applicants. As we’ve written before, the average job opening gets about 250 applicants. If you’re hiring remotely, that number will be significantly higher. For example, our own digital marketer job opening attracted 720 candidates, 61 of which were qualified, and only a handful were called in for an interview.

Here’s the problem – getting from 720 to 61 using the standard screening procedures can take days. Recruiters know this and when they have tight deadlines and need to fill a position, this is where corners are cut. Since most companies use resumes, recruiters only take a few seconds per each CV in the screening stage. Even worse, if they use applicant tracking systems, they set them up for certain keywords and eliminate large numbers of good candidates by relying on the app instead of human judgement.

To speed up your screening, simply use a skills-based assessment tool as first step of the hiring process. You’ll still spend seconds on each applicant, but the applicants you end up will be much more qualified.

5. Do an interview only with the candidates worth your time

When you see all the great applications rolling in, with extensive experience, excellent test results and flawless CVs, you may be tempted to call in everyone you like for an interview. Having many great applicants is a good problem to have, but only the very best should make it to the interview stage.

Just how many is that? The answer will depend on many factors: the industry, the seniority of the position, the demand, etc. However, resources such as this one state that you should have 7-10 phone interviews and 3-5 interviews on site, in order to make two offers and hire one person.

Keep in mind that the average job interview lasts anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, which can come up to quite a lot of time if you have lots of applicants. If you count in the time to create an interview script, watch the interviews again (if they’re recorded) and discuss the decision, it can take several hours per single applicant that’s interviewed.

So, what do you do if you have several dozen great applicants that you want to interview? Work on the phases before the interview (primarily the screening) to whittle down the number of candidates to just a handful of the very best for the interview.

6. Keep in touch with previous candidate rejected at later stages

Rejection can be hard for both parties involved. It’s even harder to say no to a candidate that almost got hired, but nuances made you choose someone else for the role. Good news is that these rejected candidates can be a great asset to your talent pool and a way to optimize your hiring process.

If a candidate doesn’t get hired, they may apply for another role. Since they know the company and the application process, they’re likely to apply for the same or similar position. Once they’ve picked up a few more skills, built up their portfolio and earned some more experience, they may be a better fit for the role and your company.

Moreover, if they’ve reached the later stages of the hiring process, they’re familiar with how your hiring pipeline works. They will let others know if they had a good experience, and even more certainly so if they had a bad one. In fact, Glassdoor has a special review section for situations where the candidate didn’t get hired but went through the interview process.

If you have excellent candidates that you didn’t end up hiring, keep them in your database and ensure you stay on good terms with them. The first course of action is rejecting them nicely, after which you need to stay in touch every once in a while to build trust and establish a good employer brand.


To really optimize your hiring process and maximize the number of candidates for your open positions, the key is stop thinking of hiring in traditional terms. Companies that invest time and resources into modern, efficient and quicker methods of hiring are bound to have better quality hiring processes and applicants.

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