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The US unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent in 2019, the lowest it has been in 50 years. In this candidate-driven market, hiring processes need to strike a careful balance. They must be rigorous enough to surface truly qualified talent, but they cannot be so time-consuming or complex that they deter promising candidates from proceeding.

With candidates holding all the cards, now is the time for hiring managers to pinpoint the hiring practices that keep top talent away from their organizations while investing in more engaging candidate experiences.

Bad Hiring Practices Deter Good People

In recent years, numerous companies have adopted the Silicon Valley ethos of asking candidates strange and seemingly irrelevant questions during the hiring process. The idea is that these unconventional questions can reveal a lot about a candidate — but in today’s talent market, this approach can end up rubbing your best prospects the wrong way. In fact, one of the most common reasons why candidates drop out of the hiring process is because they feel their time is being disrespected during interviews.

In addition to baffling and arguably immaterial questions, drawn-out hiring timelines may also be pushing candidates to your competitors. Most candidates cast wide nets in their job searches today, and they won’t wait around for your offer if others come in more promptly. Nearly half of all job offers are extended after three interviews, according to a report from MRINetwork — but if you’re making candidates wait that long for a decision, a company with a faster hiring process is likely to close the deal before you can.

Candidates’ collective distaste for slow-moving hiring processes extends to the job application itself. According to a 2016 study, conversion rates can plummet if a job application takes more than five minutes to fill out. Candidates are used to easy, efficient, convenient technology in their personal lives. Cumbersome online applications will only make them rethink their choice to work for your company.

For more expert HR insights, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

Creating a More Engaging Experience

Considering how competitive the war for talent is today, it is imperative for companies to make a positive impression on candidates at every step of the way. After all, candidates look at the hiring process as a preview of the type of experience they can expect on the job. If they don’t like what they see, chances are they’ll head elsewhere.

Recruiting isn’t just about your needs — it’s about your candidates’ needs as well. Adopting a strategic approach to your candidate experience will help you better attract top talent. If you want to convincing standout candidates to work for you, take these steps:

1. Prioritize Transparency

Employees have grown to expect top-down transparency from their employers, including in the hiring process. Candidates are curious about what a typical workday might look like at your organization. Use technology to pull back the curtain and show them.

Rather than rattling off a long list of potential tasks or vaguely describing the company culture, consider highlighting your office through a virtual tour, providing a realistic  preview of the role though an online simulation, or sharing testimonials straight from employees. This removes some of the mystery surrounding what life might be like on the job, and it can really boost perception of your employer brand.

2. Respect Every Candidate’s Time

Two-thirds of job seekers will move on from a job opportunity if they haven’t heard back from an employer in two weeks, according to CareerBuilder. The clock starts ticking the minute they hit “submit” on an application.

You can make a good first impression and keep candidates from looking elsewhere by ensuring your hiring process is as speedy and responsive as possible. Tools like automated scheduling solutions can be a big help here: By reducing the amount of time spent coordinating interviews with a candidate, you can keep the process moving along swiftly, without administrative roadblocks.

3. Give Candidates Options

There’s no one size-fits-all approach to the hiring process, and your hiring strategy should always be informed by the role you’re looking to fill and the candidates you’re targeting. For example, with most entry-level roles, you’re likely to be dealing largely with younger candidates. In that case, you’d want to give candidates the option to complete as much of the hiring process via smartphones and other mobile devices as possible.

In general, on-demand interviewing solutions can be a good way to give candidates personalized options in the hiring process. On-demand interviews allow candidates to complete interviews on their own time and in a flexible way. For example, you could give candidates the option to answer prerecorded questions via phone, text, or video — whatever works for them. Furthermore, on-demand interviews free up your staff members to focus on more strategic, high-value matters while technology handles the screening.

Given the wide range of job opportunities available to candidates today, you can’t expect to win the competition for top-notch talent without creating a truly engaging candidate experience. That means making the process both efficient and exciting for candidates.

One of the best ways to avoid a lengthy, confusing, or otherwise frustrating hiring process is by making technology an integral part of your hiring practices. New technologies like realistic job simulations, automated scheduling, and on-demand interviewing can bring increased transparency and efficiency to any hiring process, thereby helping you give the best candidates the positive experiences they’re looking for.

Kurt Heikkinen is CEO of Modern Hire. Brian Stern is president of Modern Hire.

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