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4 Smart Moves for Winning the Competition for Top Talent A thoroughly professional interview process is essential to attracting and signing the people who can drive your company.

By Matt Mickiewicz Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


What do you think the odds are that candidates applying to jobs at your company are satisfied with their experience? The answer to this is probably pretty bleak, as recent studies suggest that upwards of 69 percent of candidates have negative hiring experiences. As the fight for talent continues to get more and more competitive, entrepreneurs and hiring managers should consider taking a very critical look at their interview processes, not only to increase their chances of attracting the right employees, but also to further their employer brand.

Too many employers think about interviews as transactions meant to weed out the good candidates from the bad. The reality, however, is that they are a crucial part of your brand and the way that you'll be perceived in the market. If you lead candidates on for weeks or months and communicate poorly while asking for significant amounts of their time, ultimately, it will catch up with you via word of mouth and online review sites. Not to mention a poor paper offer acceptance rate.

Smart companies know that they need to invest in their interview process, putting thought into each step so that they can be more efficient, make better hiring decisions and leave a positive impression on every individual who comes through their doors. Here are four tips on how to perfect your process.

Related: 15 Tips for Improving Your Skills Interviewing Job Candidates

1. Build your interview team.

First, take a hard look at the objectives for this role and what candidate qualities you're looking for. From there map backwards to build out your interview team, identifying the individuals and questions that will help suss out the information you're looking for. I'm a big fan of "Who: The A Method for Hiring," which is filled with great tips on how to build an interview team and approach each stage of hiring.

Another thing to consider when building your interview team is diversity. Make sure you're including individuals from different parts of your organization who together can give a holistic view of the company. This allows candidates to get a more in-depth understanding of what your company is about, and empowers them to make a more informed decision. This also provides your team with unique perspectives and balance to the interview process, meaning your team can fairly and effectively decide whether or not an individual is a good fit for your company.

2. Talk money upfront.

Don't be afraid to talk money upfront as part of the job posting or in the early conversations you have with candidates. While many companies might not be accustomed to this, the benefits of talking compensation from the start greatly outweigh the cons -- it prevents both sides from investing in a lengthy interview process if they're not aligned on compensation. In fact, transparency early on around compensation is arguably one of the most important contributing factors to success in the interview process. Ultimately nobody wins in a situation where weeks are spent interviewing for a role, only for the offer to fall apart at the last minute because compensation expectations weren't aligned since both sides felt too awkward to bring it up.

My company, Hired, has a unique take on this considering we're a career marketplace focused on making the hiring process more efficient and transparent than traditional recruiting methods. Every company on our platform must list a salary upfront for every opportunity they are hiring for. This takes away the guessing game around compensation, allowing companies and candidates alike to have real conversations from the get-go. Candidates can see the full picture of a job opportunity and it results in a more informative and positive experience from the start.

While the idea of sharing salary information upfront might worry some companies, the majority of job seekers will take a lower-paying job in favor of such factors as the opportunity to learn new skills, take on greater responsibilities or the ability to work from home part of the time. If you find out early on that your offer is lower than what the candidate was hoping for, be sure to orient your conversation around non-financial factors including the opportunity to build something from the ground up, learning potential, a flexible work schedule and more.

Related: 8 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Interviewing a Job Candidate

3. Communication is critical.

Keep in mind that interviews are typically the culmination of hours of work and preparation on a candidate's part. So be respectful, and communicate clearly and often. As a general rule of thumb, communication with a candidate should happen within 24 hours of an update or major step in the interview process. This includes everything from the initial phone interview to the skills assessment to the onsite interview to the final offer.

When it comes to the onsite interview, companies that communicate clearly on what to expect will leave a lasting, positive impression. At a minimum, ensure that your HR partner or hiring manager includes information upfront on who the candidate will be meeting with, what his or her interview schedule looks like, directions to your office and what your company's dress code is.

If you want to go the extra mile, give candidates insight into what kinds of interviews and questions to expect, as well as details on how they will be assessed. Stripe is a great example of this, as it provides all candidates with a comprehensive guide on what to expect for its onsite interviews. By empowering candidates with the information they need to prepare, it allows them to put their best foot forward, and helps to guarantee that interviews are effective for your hiring team.

Related: Tips for Interviewing Every Hiring Manager Should Know

4. Feedback counts.

There's a growing perception that employers simply aren't responsive during interviews, and the data backs this up. Only 27 percent of candidates say an employer gave them an explanation of why they didn't get a job after interviewing. The good news is that by taking the time to provide feedback to candidates -- particularly those who are far along in the process -- this will help set you apart from most other companies out there. It says volumes about your brand and ends things on a positive note. Additionally, it can open up the door for future conversations with a candidate in the event there's a role down the road that they're a better fit for.

Hiring the right talent is arguably the single most important challenge companies face, which is why the days of one-sided communication, leaving candidates hanging or disrespecting their time are gone. Revamping your interview process with an eye towards making it more candidate-centric is one of the best ways to bolster your employer brand and attract the best and brightest. When in doubt, I always try to follow the golden rule -- treat candidates the way you would like to be treated. I find that it rarely steers me wrong.

Matt Mickiewicz

Co-Founder of Hired

Matt Mickiewicz is the co-founder and chief product officer for Hired, the company on a mission to empower everyone to find a job they love. Matt is a serial entrepreneur who previously co-founded 99designs, Flippa, and SitePoint.

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