Hiring Smart When Your Pool Of Candidates Is Huge—And Qualified

Having a large pool of qualified candidates to choose from while hiring may seem like an embarrassment of riches, but it can also be overwhelming. Here's how to let the best candidates rise to the top.

Normally, having a large pool of qualified candidates to choose from while hiring is a good thing. However, with national unemployment remaining above 9%, many employers are finding themselves overwhelmed with candidates. Business owners often can’t find the time to give each candidate the attention he or she deserves, and as a result, end up selecting someone that simply isn’t the best fit for the job. How can an employer take advantage of the many qualified candidates available, without being overwhelmed by the number of resumes they receive? Consider these ideas:

1) Determine exactly what you're looking for before you advertise your job. Identify the critical traits and qualifications that are ‘known to work’ in this type of job within your organization. Do your best employees in this job have specific experience? Are they creative self-starters, or do they follow instructions to a ‘t’?  By answering these questions and creating a very specific benchmark of the types of skills, personality traits and attitudes you need in the job, the easier it is to zero in of the best candidates. Use assessment tools to automate the process of measuring the ‘fit’ of candidates as compared to your best employees in the job.

2) Create a system that allows you to spend your valuable time on candidates who fit. There are numerous inexpensive online tools (such as Simplified Talent Management and PeopleMatter, which both have applicant management applications) that will allow you to ‘intake’ thousands of candidates and sort and sift them in order to spend your time with those that fit your job. If you’re like most people, you don’t have ‘extra’ time in your day to begin with, much less spending it manually reviewing resumes and online applications. Let technology do this for you and you spend your time conducting in-depth behavioral interview with the candidates who have the best fit.  

3) Once you’ve narrowed your list, continue to take a thorough, disciplined approach. I have seen it happen many times—an employer is so happy to have narrowed the list to a small number of candidates that he or she rushes the process and makes the final decision quickly. Yes, you should be excited to finalize your hire—but take your time and continue to perform your due diligence. Because you are only spending your time with candidates who fit, you don’t have to shortcut the most critical part of this process. The behavioral interviews are your chance to reduce your risk of hiring the wrong fit. And once you feel you have the best candidates, be sure to perform thorough background and reference checks.  

While the struggling economy is a major problem for most businesses around the country, the silver lining is that there are many qualified candidates looking for a job. Create a plan and a system to take advantage of this opportunity. Don’t be overwhelmed by sheer numbers—take your time, use inexpensive online technologies, and make sure that your next hire is a great fit for the position.

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[Image: Flickr user Slightlynorth]

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