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Rapid-fire hiring: avoiding the traps

Tuesday 9th June

Rapid-fire hiring: avoiding the traps

With Covid-19 continuing to exert its influence over daily life, businesses’ priorities are being reordered all over the world.

This will inevitably lead to a pause in hiring for some organisations. However, for many others, talent acquisition is now more important than ever. Retailers, health services and even the broadband companies toiling behind your Netflix binges are all now on the hunt for hundreds, if not thousands, of new staff. They need them ASAP.

All of which poses new challenges. We’re reminded of the age-old trade-off – do you want something done fast, or do you want it done right? Now, many employers will be chasing both. Execution and excellence.

But this effort poses risks, whether it’s the adverse impact or poor cultural fit. So, to support companies between this rock and a hard place, we’ve put together a definitive list of the traps inherent to rapid-fire hiring, with some tips to help you avoid them.

Lowering standards

Just because you need people pronto, the quality of your hires will remain paramount. The cost of unsuitable hires is well-documented. Even if they’re only temporary, and so require less in the way of training investment, lost productivity will remain costly.

As many organisations face Covid-19’s financial toll, unsuitable hires are likely to be unaffordable at best. It, therefore, pays to maintain high standards, despite the temptation to relax them when the pressure’s on.

But high standards don’t have to be a bottleneck on efficiency. Ask yourself: how clear is my definition of what ‘good’ looks like? Forensically identifying the key success criteria for your roles, while maybe time-consuming initially, will unlock a far more efficient process moving forward.

Our advice is simple. Look for solutions that create a robust, consistent framework to compare each candidate against. This makes your decision-making easier, shortening time-to-hire without skimping on standards.

Adverse impact

Actions speak louder than words. So, now times are challenging, companies need to back up everything they said about D&I when the going was good.

Rapid-fire hiring can easily see hiring managers revert back to gut-feel talent acquisition. But, as has been proven many times over, this approach exposes your processes to the types of unconscious bias that harm workforce diversity.

A shift away from diverse and inclusive practices will have two impacts on your business:

  • You’ll be a less attractive employment option to certain groups – whether that’s women, ethnic minorities or the disabled – in future.
  • Your existing workers from these groups are likely to experience a decline in engagement if your commitment to workplace D&I isn’t consistent.

Our recommendation is similarly twofold:

  • Talk about your continued commitment to diversity both internally and externally. Ensure this comes across as one of your values, rather than a legal requirement!
  • Make sure that your assessment solution can adequately strip out unconscious bias, even if you start moving your sifting benchmarks in light of increased hiring needs.

Cultural misalignment

Hiring thousands of workers may solve a (relatively) short-term need. But what might be the long-term impact if each of those hires chips away at your workplace culture?

It’s understandable to prioritise candidates’ capability at this time. To relegate cultural alignment as a secondary metric. But, when you’re hiring fast, it’s easy to forget the benefits of maintaining a great workplace culture (25% more productivity, potentially).

So you’re hiring more people to get more work done, theoretically. But, if you hire just a few bad eggs, you can expect your people to in fact do less. So we’d always advise you to keep cultural fit at the heart of your acquisition strategy, even when things get hectic and quotas rear their heads.

One way to standardise your approach to assessing cultural alignment is to include your desired behaviours in the initial framework of what ‘good’ looks like (introduced above). This means you can simultaneously assess both for both culture and capability. This will save you that all-important time.

Candidate experience

This is another area where a short-term outlook can harm long-term prospects.

Organisations will be faced with huge demand for each new role, as the pandemic spurs job losses elsewhere. In this hectic context, candidate experience might be the last thing on your mind.

But candidates really are customers, especially if you’re a supermarket chain or a broadband provider. IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute has found that more than 60% of applicants inform friends and family of a bad candidate experience – magnifying your processes’ impact on your wider brand.

To ensure applicants are only spreading the good news about your candidate experience, we advise looking for ways to give specific and valuable feedback, as well as simply valuing every candidate’s time by clearly setting out the steps of the process and by keeping them up to date throughout.

You might also consider whether a digital-first pre-hire assessment format might allow you to both identify talent quicker while also setting your employer brand apart.

Wood for the trees

You’ll sense a trend through most of these traps. In each area, you might feel enticed to look at your short term priorities in isolation – to the potential detriment of your long-term success.

We instead encourage you to see beyond your immediate hiring needs. To establish processes that insulate you from any future damage, while still allowing for the immediate productivity lift that’s so vital to weathering these tumultuous times.

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