Superstar candidates are always at a premium, regardless of the economy, and those companies that can find a way to uncover them and hire them will be the ones that thrive.  Although you can’t create more candidates, there is one thing you can create—time. Time that you can use to assess whether or not a candidate is the right person, and time to hire candidates more quickly.  This article provides tips on how to hire a great candidate.

One way to do that is to streamline your interview process.  Wasting time during the interview stage of your candidate search is the easiest way to miss out on a great hire, somebody who might bring incredible value to your company.  There are six key techniques for accomplishing this, which I’ve listed below:

  • Re-evaluate the job description after someone leaves. The person who left that role brought their own talents with them, and most likely that role “evolved” into something different than what it was previously.  Make sure that the description is accurate and reflects the current needs of the company in every way—not the company’s needs prior to the previous employee.
  • Circulate copies of the job description so that everybody is on the same page. If there are issues with the job description, get those worked out before beginning the search.  Miscommunication is the surest way to derail any process.
  • Conduct phone interviews to eliminate candidates. You don’t want to waste your department’s time in face-to-face interviews with candidates you could have eliminated via phone interviews.  In order to move the process along more quickly, schedule phone interviews during early morning, lunchtime, or early evening so that work schedules do not have to be rearranged.
  • Combine steps of the interview process. Instruct candidates to fill out an online application prior to the interview, or e-mail the application so the candidates can fill it out and bring it with them to the interview.  If testing is needed, have the candidates come in a few minutes early instead of asking them to come back at a later date.
  • Show everyone involved the advantage of keeping the process moving. If your interview process bogs down, you will lose top talent.  Instead of saying that you want to hire somebody “ASAP,” decide on a firm date you need someone employed and work backwards.  Make sure to deal in specifics, not generalities.
  • Become more “results-oriented” or “ability-oriented” in your job description. Utilize this approach instead of asking for X-amount of years of experience.  These days, what a candidate did during their years of experience is more telling than how many years they’ve have.

There are two more related aspects of the overall process that you should keep in mind.  First, be sure that everyone in your organization is actively selling the company.  They should know how to differentiate your company, stress its benefits, ensure its street reputation is a good one, and be able to recite their 30-second “story” of what they like about the company and why they stay.

Second, arrange exit interviews with those employees who are leaving the company.  These interviews should be conducted by an unbiased third party.  By knowing why candidates are leaving, you can correct any potential problems that may exist within the organization and be able to position the company in its best light.  These will help you hire a great candidate.

Everybody knows the saying, “He who hesitates is lost.” Well, he (or she) who hesitates in this market can lose excellent candidates.  There’s another saying in our industry: “Things that drag get dirty.” Sometimes it’s easier to get the process rolling, but more difficult to bring that process to a close.  Don’t hesitate to streamline your interview process with the steps outlined above.  You’ll position yourself to hire more of the talent you need to take your company to the next level.

This article was written by Dan Simmons, CPC.  If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact him at

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