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Technology enables a re-thinking of the typical hiring journey for a better candidate experience.

A SHRM blog post More Employers Moving to Fewer Interviews, by editor Roy Maurer, highlights recent research from by the Talent Board that shows employers are providing high-touch service to candidates and trimming their interview schedules.

Conducted as part of the annual CandE Awards which recognize companies who deliver a stellar candidate experience, The 2015 North American Candidate Experience Research Report, includes survey data from more than 130,000 candidates who applied to over 200 participating companies. It is part of the Talent Board’s effort launched in 2010 to create a formal mechanism for validating the candidate experience.

Candidates want more relevant interviews
The research shows that candidates are more sophisticated and in control of their journey than ever before. They do not want their time to be wasted with a series of cumbersome interviews especially if those interviews do not have value.

Kevin W. Grossman, vice president at Talent Board states in the blog, “Candidates want to have a discussion. They do not want to be asked the same questions that are answered in their resume or applications.”

Organizations are taking note and the study found employers are conducting fewer interviews per candidate, with 79 percent of companies now having one or two interviews related to a position, compared to 63 percent in 2014.

This means it is more important than ever to make interviews meaningful and to move beyond the introductions and dig into the real conversations that will really matter.

Feedback from references can foster better conversations
This is how more strategic reference checking can be of value and online solutions can make it easier than ever. You can change up your interview process by providing hiring managers with detailed job-specific insight into a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses so they can ask more relevant questions.

You can also gain more points of data for example, you can compare the feedback that comes from others who have worked with the candidate and actually observed them in the past, with what the candidate says about himself or herself or with other assessment results.

The kind of detailed reference check that can be accomplished online lends itself to changing the order of your hiring journey. In a matter of two days or less, online reference checking can help you probe 4 to 5 former managers or co-workers that a candidate identifies.

The references are sent a survey and provide their feedback confidentially on 20 skills or behaviors that are the relevant for the job. There is also a mechanism to collect their written comments on the candidate’s strengths or weaknesses.

Once the references respond, you get a detailed candidate report broken down into five or more behavior competency areas. With SkillSurvey’s online reference checking solution, you can even take it a step further and provide your team with interview guides that provide behavioral interview questions.

Making the hiring journey more strategic
Rather than thinking about the hiring process as an end in itself, the entire process is part of an experience that should result in an engaged, and motivated candidate. Candidates benefit because it puts them in the driver’s seat. They input their references and know that your organization is using a simple online request that will be sent out to all of them. They don’t wonder whether someone manages to make a phone call or not or whether their top contact is travelling that week and may have missed a voicemail.

But more important, reference checking can also be more strategic. You can use the data to improve every single step in your hiring journey. It can help you identify who to bring in for interviews. With an informed process, you may find a candidate who excels in many areas, and spot right away how to guarantee success with targeted with on-board training.

Scientific studies have found that the overall feedback ratings combined with the number of references who respond is predictive of first year turnover for cause so you’re getting far more impactful information than you can glean from a hit or miss phone call.

Overall, it means you save time, money and effort while finding consistently stronger candidates, who perform better and stay longer.

Check out our slideshare, The New Hiring Journey to see how it works.

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