Is your job application process sabotaging your hiring?

Last updated:
July 21, 2021
December 23, 2021
min read
Bev Campling
Table of contents

Do get plenty of job applications for vacancies, but your time to hire seems to go on forever?

Time to hire starts from the point of initial interaction with candidates who respond to your recruitment drive, to the time a candidate accepts an offer.

The longer your time to hire, the more significant the negative impact on your company! Worse still, if your job application process is long and tedious, you could be losing out on top talent.

Top candidates who are active in the job market are usually made an offer within two weeks. Are you getting your offers out that quickly?

And if you’ve sourced passive candidates, you can’t keep them hanging by a thread while you sort through your job application process. If you do that, they’ll lose interest in the job opportunity and you’ll never be able to convince them to reconsider. They’ll see your employer brand’s credibility as tainted!

What’s wrong with your job application process?

The biggest problem is usually that hiring team members don’t think the process through properly, and that’s usually as a result of poor communication. Collaborative hiring yields excellent results as long as the channels of communication remain open and transparent.

The job application process begins the minute an opening is recognized and discussed by the hiring team. The initial attitude and approach to the way the hiring process will be done can have a major impact on your time to hire.

If you start with issues or gaps in your job application process, these problems will filter through the entire hiring procedure.

As much as you need to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible, you must consider the candidate experience during the recruitment process. Sometimes, especially when we’re under pressure, we place all the emphasis only on what we want. We forget that on the other side of hiring decisions are candidates who also have expectations.

There are many ways that your job application process can be sabotaging your time to hire. But there are some very common, but not so obvious, mistakes that hiring managers’ frequently make.

10 ways your job application process is sabotaging your time to hire

1. You haven’t invested in an ATS.

You cannot net top talent if you haven’t invested in an ATS. You need the metrics provided by an ATS to identify firstly, what works for your business, and secondly how to handle hiring for different positions.

We’re all hiring in a fast-paced world with high expectations and trying to attract the best candidates. If you don’t have access to data that gives you insights in real time, you’ll be left behind and have to settle for less than ideal scenarios.

Regular data analysis allows your hiring team to identify and remedy problems right away, as well as identify what works well for future vacancies.

2. You don’t do proper planning upfront.

Without pre-planning, you’re bound for disaster! Spend time upfront planning the recruitment process before you begin. Identify critical skills that are necessary and estimate the time to fill (from when the job is posted to when the successful candidate starts). Decide whether the position needs skills or personality assessments and how long references or verifications will take.

Work towards a goal, including the time to hire and time to fill. With goals in place, the hiring team has direction and the department management can implement contingency plans until the right candidate is in place.

3. Your hiring team is disorganized.

If you’re hiring due to expansion, employee maternity or a staff member retiring, you’ve had adequate time to plan to fill the post. When there’s an unexpected resignation, it can take you by surprise so there’s little time for planning.

Part of your goal setting must be to confirm that every member of the hiring team is readily available and focused during the recruitment process. If anyone who should be on the hiring team isn’t going to have the time to dedicate themselves to the full process, they’re best left out.

Instead, opt to keep them updated. Long delays in the job application process due to having to wait for a team member’s availability slows everything down. Hiring can be a complicated exercise; don’t build in unnecessary time delays.

4. You don’t have a comprehensive job description.

Many recruiters don’t realize the importance of a well-constructed job description. Vague or ambiguous job descriptions will result in loads of unsuitable applications, leading to time wasting and unnecessary delays.

Once you know what you want, what your approach will be, and anticipated timeframes are in place, your next step has to be to compile a comprehensive job description. Put out precisely what you want in a candidate so that you attract only suitable applicants.

After the hiring team has agreed on the job description, take time to come up with proper application questions to go with the job post. Application questions are crucial time savers for both applicants and recruiters.

Select vital skills and requirements that aren’t negotiable and list them when you post the job. Try not to include too many questions though, because that can put applicants off. Aim for a maximum of five, but obviously, it depends on the type of vacancy as well.

5. You’re advertising through the wrong channels.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if you spread your advertising net wide you’ll get better results. Not every vacancy works on every job board.

Decide beforehand how and where you’re going to promote the vacancy. If it’s a specialized position, you have to go to specialized job boards. More general positions can be advertised widely across job boards.

Choosing the right advertising channels also says something about your employer brand. If you’re looking to attract specialist skills that are in high demand, candidates are unlikely to find you on generic job boards. And if they do find you by chance, they might not apply because they would expect to see the post of a specialist site. Candidates have expectations and make judgments, right or wrong.

6. The job application process is too complicated.

Ensure that your career site is user-friendly and the job application process takes no more than a few easy steps. We live in a world of instant results; make sure your career site and employer brand keep pace with that expectation.

Also, select sophisticated job boards with proven results and a reputation for delivering a high degree of service and satisfaction to companies and candidates.

7. Your screening process is haphazard.

Many recruiters make the mistake of waiting for applications to accumulate before they start screening. If you do this you’re walking on dangerous ground because you can lose the best applicant while you’re waiting.

Once you start getting applications, dedicate yourself to thorough screening so that you select only the best candidates for interviews. If you identify an excellent application, act immediately and engage with the candidate. Don’t leave an outstanding CV in your inbox while you wait for a few more to come in before you respond. That delay can result in the candidate moving on by the time you contact them.

Also, establish upfront what the salary/benefit expectations are if an applicant seems overqualified or indicates that they expect more than what your budget allows. Don’t be tempted to waste time on interviews if your budget isn’t negotiable.

8. You don’t communicate openly and promptly.

Don’t procrastinate when you’re screening candidates. If there’s something on a CV that doesn’t look right, ask about it before you begin the interview process. Don’t be afraid of the elephant in the room!

If a candidate’s CV reflects improbabilities like an unrealistic increase in responsibilities from one position to another – ask about it. If a CV has any unexplained time gaps in employment, find out why. Misrepresentation on CV’s is a real problem.

9. You don’t keep in regular contact with shortlisted candidates.

Don’t assume that candidates will wait for you or know that they’re still in line for an interview. Once you’ve identified your shortlist and start scheduling interviews, make sure that you engage daily with candidates who know that they’re shortlisted.

Ignoring a candidate who’s keen and waiting in anticipation for feedback can result in them becoming disillusioned. Once that happens they’ll lose faith in your employer brand and might have second thoughts when you finally do get back to them.

Update candidates on your progress and give them time estimates of when decisions will be made. If a shortlisted candidate falls out for any reason, advise them immediately. Don’t give anyone false hope, no matter how bad it makes you feel to regret them.

10. You don’t keep track of your progress.

If you don’t have an ATS, tracking progress isn’t easy. If you have an ATS you can use it daily to manage the progress of your recruitment drive. Ensure that all members of the hiring team are participating and make changes if necessary.

Align your job application process to your company

Although there are many hiring statistics readily available, you have to focus on statistics and information that’s relative to your type of business and industry. (And don’t forget your company culture.)

In specialist industries where skills shortages abound, time to fill and time to hire can be far longer than in other sectors. Also, in small businesses you need candidates who are more inclined to a jack-of-all-trades mentality rather than those who are seeking public recognition and prestige.

The workforce is becoming more transient, and candidates are becoming more inclined to making snap judgments on an employer brand. If you’re looking to attract the best, your employer brand and job application process must be data-driven by an ATS.

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