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3 reasons your hiring strategy might be turning off potential hires

In a tight labor market, these behaviors can be seen as red flags.

3 reasons your hiring strategy might be turning off potential hires
[Photo: Carson Masterson/Unsplash]

The hiring process these days feels like an episode of Shark Tank, the reality show and pitch competition where aspiring entrepreneurs attempt to pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors—many of whom aren’t very warm or welcoming.

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It’s an intimidating process, to say the least, and leaves you feeling like your every gesture is being scrutinized.

When it comes to jobs, candidates often feel like they’re under a spotlight, being interrogated. Sometimes, the recruiting process will go on for weeks on end, with rounds and rounds of interviews. And during that time, many job seekers won’t even receive updates.

So, it’s not surprising that potential employees could be turned off by this kind of hiring process. And they wouldn’t be wrong. Who wants to work at a business that favors bureaucracy over simplicity?

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Now more than ever, companies need to evaluate and streamline their hiring processes to help boost the attraction and retention of top talent.

As a CEO, I’ve interviewed numerous candidates over the past 16 years of running my tech company. Here are some suggestions of ways to perfect your company’s hiring process depending on what you’re looking for and what goals you have in place.

1. Ditch traditional methods

In his story for Inc., Adam Robinson argued for simplifying the application process: “In today’s competitive hiring market, employers need to put extra measures in place to keep prospective job applicants engaged.”

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I couldn’t agree more. I don’t believe in having an application process that’s daunting and time consuming.

“Many of today’s job seekers no longer have the patience for lengthy, complicated job applications—meaning to attract top talent in today’s tight labor market, you need to make the process simpler,” Robinson wrote.

And I believe the same applies to the interviewing process. Bringing someone into a sterile office where they don’t feel comfortable enough to be themselves is not my idea of bringing a new hire onto my team.

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Years ago, I was asked in an interview what I spent most of my workday doing. My reply then was that 50% of my day was devoted to the hiring process (this was before I learned to start delegating).

But my process was simple: I’d take a potential candidate out to lunch so I could determine whether they’d make the right personal and cultural fit for our company. More important, I’d ask myself, “Do I want to work with this person for the next two years?”

Taking someone out for lunch is more informal, yes, but it can help you gauge their personality and character. How do they treat the restaurant staff? Are they kind and friendly or dismissive? Are they able to loosen up and enjoy their meal, or are they just trying to hard-sell you their skills and talents?

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2. Look for candidates with real talent

As a bootstrapped founder, I grew my company slowly and carefully, and that allowed me to understand that having an effective recruitment process is crucial for attracting the best candidates.

Something else I’ve learned over this time is that the best candidate doesn’t necessarily equate to the most talented. A person can have a shiny résumé but still not have the greatest communication or problem-solving skills.

In the beginning stages of my startup, I once hired someone who we’ll call Craig. He was laser-focused, talented, hard-working, and competitive. That was the upside. But over a few months, we learned that Craig was also kind of a bully—failing to cooperate or engage with his coworkers. He had an arrogant attitude during team meetings, concerning himself only with his own opinions above all else.

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Since that experience, I’ve gained a greater understanding about the principles we value the most, including intellectual humility, empathy, emotional intelligence, and a sense of resiliency when the going gets tough. Rather than put up with an inflated ego, I’m a big fan of hiring people with great attitudes and developing them into superstars.

3. Eliminate clunky steps

“​​Due to disorganization, lengthy stretches between interviews, and plenty of other factors, employers may be missing out on top talent,” wrote Fast Company contributor, Lindsay Tigar.

She’s not wrong. When I refer to streamlining your recruitment, I’m talking about how to make the process easier and faster—which ultimately helps you attract and retain the best candidates. Why? Because they feel respected as individuals.

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That’s the problem with having a hiring process that resembles Shark Tank. People don’t feel valued—and if they feel disposable from the get-go, they won’t have the confidence or psychological safety to do their best work.

So, to be blunt, your interviewing process shouldn’t drag on for weeks on end. As Tigar suggests, you should, as the hiring manager, cut back on the hoops candidates need to jump through.

In our case, when we know we’re interested in a candidate, we make it known within a week—showing that we respect their time and energy. There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than dragging out a hiring process for weeks or even months only to essentially reject someone. This may be how many companies currently operate, but it will end up turning away top talent.

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According to Tigar, leveraging text messaging “to coordinate interviews, share directions to your office, remind candidates of critical hiring process steps, and more” can help boost engagement in candidates and keep them excited about joining your team.

Changing your approach to hiring may not be easy in the beginning, but I promise it’ll have long-lasting benefits—which is what we all ultimately look for as leaders.


Aytekin Tank is the founder and CEO of Jotform, a leading online forms SaaS solution.

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