How To Streamline Interviews To Improve Hiring Outcomes

However, many organizations are so busy with sourcing, recruiting, and other HR duties that they need more time to optimize this critical step. And that can lead to candidates dropping out of the hiring process altogether.

According to one survey:

  • 55% of candidates will withdraw if the interview process is too long.
  • 17% will drop out due to unclear job descriptions.
  • And 9% will accept better offers.

Considering the current labor shortages across industries, organizations can’t afford to lose promising candidates to competitors due to slow, ineffective processes.

So this article explores why streamlining this leg of the hiring journey is crucial for your hiring metrics. We’ll also share proven strategies and tools to optimize your interviews for success.

Let’s begin with the following:

How streamlined interviews improve hiring outcomes

Streamlining your interview process decreases redundancies and saves money while keeping candidates engaged. This proactive efficiency improves hiring metrics such as time-to-hire, interview-to-hire, and candidate experience scores. Streamlined interviews can also empower your team to reach diversity goals.

The most significant benefit of a streamlined interview process includes more meaningful, informative, and positive interactions between teams and candidates. This results in the following:

Shorter time-to-hire rates

Time-to-hire refers to the number of days after a candidate enters your hiring pipeline to accept your job offer.

Shorter times-to-hire (TTH) indicate a hiring process that functions like a well-oiled machine. It proves your team knows how to source interested candidates, vet them for job and culture matches, and convince them to accept your offers before a competitor lures them away.

Shorter TTH also prevents burning out understaffed teams, as you’ll be able to get new employees in the door quickly. They also equate to less time and money on sourcing and recruiting expenses.

Conversely, long time-to-hire rates often signal inefficient or redundant processes, bottlenecks that need to be addressed, or underperforming team members. They also contribute to employee burnout and higher recruiting expenses.

Fewer candidate withdrawals

In-demand candidates will likely entertain multiple employment offers thanks to widespread [staffing shortages]( "Overcoming Healthcare Staffing Shortages in 2023"). If your hiring and interview process doesn’t immediately engage candidates, they’ll lose patience and withdraw themselves from consideration.

Statistics demonstrate that:

  • High-quality candidates only have to wait ten days to find a new job.
  • 60% of recruiters say they regularly lose candidates before scheduling an interview.
  • 48% of people have declined a job offer because the hiring process was too long.
  • 44% of organizations estimate spending one to two months in the hiring stage, yet 39% of applicants believe a hiring timeline of seven to 14 days is too long.
  • 50% of candidates will consider accepting a competitor’s job offer after waiting two to four weeks.

Since research shows that a lengthy hiring and interview process is the number one reason candidates drop out and accept new opportunities, it’s vital to streamline this stage for speed and efficiency.

More progress toward DEIB goals

Implicit or unconscious biases refer to someone’s preconceived ideas about a person based on their age, race, nationality, sexual orientation, appearance, gender identification, religion, abilities, socioeconomic status, etc.

Unaddressed implicit biases during the hiring process subtly disqualify qualified candidates, making it more challenging to improve your diversity metrics. This unconscious prejudice can manifest in hiring teams who evaluate candidates based on a “gut” instinct rather than qualifications.

Assessments like the free Harvard Implicit Association Test and ongoing awareness training can reduce biases to support your inclusive hiring practices. As discussed later, standardizing interviews to ensure fairness also drives progress.

Higher candidate experience scores

Candidate experience scores measure how applicants feel about your organization during each stage of the hiring process (from recruiting, applying, and interviewing to onboarding). A candidate’s experience is their first glimpse at how your company treats its people.

When identical roles with similar compensation packages are on the table, a candidate’s experience may ultimately decide which job offer they accept. A staggering 49% of job seekers admit they would reject an offer after a negative candidate experience.

However, the consequences run deeper than that. According to research:

  • 69% of people will never apply to a company again after a negative candidate experience.
  • 72% of candidates who have a bad experience will tell others about it in person, on social media, or via online review sites.
  • Over 55% of job seekers will not apply for a job after seeing negative reviews for a company.

Negative candidate experiences can damage your brand reputation, shrink your candidate pipeline, prevent new talent from entering your pool, and turn away once-loyal customers.

These reasons prove that a streamlined interview process improves hiring outcomes, time-to-hire, and many significant hiring metrics. So now let’s discuss:

How to streamline your interview process

Follow this four-step strategy to streamline your interviews for quicker and better hires:

1. Audit your existing hiring process

Before optimizing your interview process, you must eliminate problem areas and bottlenecks that may impact everything from the types of candidates you attract to how you communicate with them.

To audit your hiring process:

  • Map out and analyze your entire hiring workflow. Detail specifics such as how jobs are opened, who’s responsible for each task, how long each step takes, templates used, communication touchpoints, how decisions are made, etc.
  • Check recruiting and hiring metrics. Compare analytics data in your ATS for each stage of the hiring process. Flag low metrics and areas where candidates tend to drop off.
  • Calculate ROI for various sourcing/recruiting channels. Analyze best-performing channels for speed of submissions, submission-to-interview ratios, interview-to-hire ratios, etc.

Solicit internal input from your hiring team and external feedback from recruiters and candidates for a holistic overview. Try to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement.

2. Review job descriptions for clarity & inclusivity

Accurate, inclusive job descriptions improve the number of qualified applicants you receive and lead to better interviews (which both contribute to faster hiring times).

To improve your job descriptions and job listings:

Perform a job analysis first

Identify the job responsibilities and expectations of the role to attract exactly who you’re looking for and weed out those who don’t match your needs. A precise, well-crafted job description can be repurposed to draft ATS “knock-out” questions and pre-screen candidates.

Resist the urge to reuse previous job descriptions in a hurry. The role is likely to have changed since it was last opened. To perform a job analysis, ask leaders and employees in the department about:

  • The team’s main priorities and needs
  • The functional expertise the role requires
  • Non-negotiable qualifications, certifications, and skills
  • A day’s typical work assignments and schedule
  • What they expect of someone in the position
  • How performance is measured and what defines success in the role
  • What will help a new employee thrive in the position

Probe for details regarding what behavioral traits, experience, etc., worked well in the past and what was less successful. For example, a skill like adaptability may better predict success in the role than more years of experience.

Aim for inclusive language

It’s estimated that non-inclusive job descriptions prevent 39% of qualified candidates from applying. Yet job descriptions with inclusive language increase applications by 30%, bringing in more diverse candidates.

For instance, male-gendered wording like competitive, ambitious, driven, confident, and logical tend to attract fewer female applicants. So before posting your jobs, utilize software like Textio to highlight non-inclusive wording and gendered language.

Provide a hiring timeline

Conclude your job listings with an estimated timeline of your hiring process. Candidates should know how many interviews they should anticipate, whether they’ll need to complete online assessments, your average time-to-hire for the position, and when they should expect to hear back.

This information will keep candidates informed, prevent them from sending multiple follow-ups, and lead to better candidate experience scores.

3. Leverage technology & automation to speed up screening

Your ATS may automatically reject candidates using resume-parsing. But you can use these tips to take candidate filtering a step further:

Create “knock-out” questions in your application. Filter candidates by their answers to question types such as:

  • Short answer. (Do you prefer to work alone or as a team?)
  • Yes or no. (Are you willing to work overnight shifts?)
  • Scale of 1 to 5. (Describe your skill level with X on a scale of 1-5.)
  • Select all that apply. (Do you have experience with X, Y, or Z?)

Applicants will be auto-rejected or filtered out for the current role, but they’ll remain in your database for consideration for future positions.

Use weighted scoring. Assigning a points value to answers in your screening questionnaire allows you to rank applicants by best-fit calculation. For example, when assessing candidates for a Data Analyst role, you may ask:

  • Are you a Microsoft Certified Azure Data Scientist? (if YES, add 20 points)
  • Can you share an example of your data visualization in Tableau, Jupyter Notebook, or Excel? (if YES, add 5 points)

High-priority requirements are awarded more points, whereas skills that can be taught on the job receive fewer points. Your ATS will automatically tally the totals and advance the highest-scoring candidates.

Send skills-based assessments. Pre-hiring assessments, skills-based tests, and behavioral questionnaires show how candidates think, perform, and fit within your organization.

Over 82% of companies use a pre-employment assessment test to confirm job-related competencies, and 75% of employers use behavioral questionnaires to assess soft skills.

Evaluating candidates during this screening round prevents the frustration of scheduling interviews with candidates who may have embellished their resumes or aren’t entirely suited for the position.

Partner with AI-powered recruiters. One in four organizations uses artificial intelligence (AI) to support recruitment and hiring. And 92% of those organizations source those tools directly from a vendor.

AI technologies help hiring teams:

  • Screen and match the best candidates
  • Evaluate skills gaps
  • Reduce their manual workload
  • Improve interview efficiency
  • Hire more qualified candidates in less time

Relode leverages human expertise, AI, and automation to deliver high-quality candidates at scale. Leveraging intelligent employer-matching, our vetted recruiters interview prospects before submitting them for consideration. Our partners then receive pre-screened and interview-ready Relode-Certified Candidates to save time and resources.

After optimizing your screening round, it will be time to:

4. Optimize & standardize the interview process

A standardized interview process ensures consistency and unbiased evaluations. One optimized for efficiency empowers the perfect candidate to stand out and shortens your TTH.

To streamline your interview process:

Hold no more than four interview rounds

Some organizations require up to 16 rounds of interviews, which few candidates have the patience to endure today.

Google hiring teams discovered they could capture 86% of the value gained from interviews within the first four interactions. They learned that each additional round increased the predictive accuracy by about a percentage point — not worth the risk of losing good candidates.

Statistics demonstrate that the first interview round should be a virtual interview:

The first digital interview should assess a candidate’s personality, whether they’ve researched the company, and why they want to work for the organization. Evaluate these initial interviews on enthusiasm, preparedness, and cultural fit.

Advance those who succeed in this round to the next, where you’ll enact more formal and probing interviews with a panel of evaluators. Prepare Candidates with a Detailed Interview Invite Over 31% of candidates felt their poor interview experience was due to a lack of information provided by the company before their interview. Better-prepared candidates are less stressed and anxious by the process, so they can bring their authentic selves to the discussion.

Prepare your candidates for their interviews

You can prepare your candidates for their interviews by sharing

  • The names and titles of those they will be speaking with.
  • Whether they’ll need to have samples of their work or references ready.
  • How to get there. Provide directions and parking/transit details if in person or a link to the online meeting platform you’ll use if virtual.
  • How long you expect the interview to take.
  • A list of questions you may ask (so they can thoughtfully prepare)

Enlist the help of technology to schedule your interviews more efficiently. Scheduling software allows candidates to check your online calendar for times that work or make appointments with a chatbot. Text invitations also allow 84% of candidates to schedule interviews within 24 hours.

Assemble a diverse interview panel

More than 76% of job seekers believe seeing a diverse workforce during the hiring process is important. Gathering a core panel of interviewers from different backgrounds provides multiple perspectives on candidate viability. It also prevents one person’s hiring bias from unfairly disqualifying candidates.

Keep your interviewing team to no more than five people, including HR members and a candidate’s potential supervisor, coworker, or subordinate.

Always use structured, standardized interviews

A structured, standardized interview uses the same format and questions for all candidates competing for the role. This allows applicants to be assessed on the same criteria, creates alignment across HR and department leaders, and ensures legal compliance.

Nearly 75% of HR teams use structured interviews. These include job-specific questions submitted by managers and questions that evaluate work ethics and company culture fit.

Send copies of the interview template to everyone on the panel beforehand and assign employees to specific questions so the conversation flows smoothly. Ensure everyone agrees to follow the format without deviations.

Consider using AI-powered transcription apps to record and generate a written account of the interview with timestamps and keyword lists. You can read over these later or share them with stakeholders who were not present. This intel may prevent the need to schedule another interview later. Use Numerical Ratings To Evaluate Candidates Candidate scorecards provide an unbiased rating system for how well candidates meet your expectations for the role. Scorecards minimize the chance that less-qualified candidates who interview well will gain an advantage over more qualified candidates who appear nervous.

To do this:

  1. Create a scorecard template using a blank spreadsheet.
  2. Add each requirement, skill, qualification, etc., that you’re looking for in a separate column at the top.
  3. Send this template to all interviewers beforehand so they’re aligned with what you’re looking for.
  4. During the interview, have everyone score the candidate’s answers on a scale of one to five. Each score should be entered under the corresponding column.

Give the panel 10 minutes post-interview to tally up their scores alone (to reduce groupthink from influencing their first impressions). Then collect the scorecards and discuss the candidate as a group while their answers are still fresh in everyone’s minds.

This matrix grants decision-makers an unbiased overview of how candidates fit your criteria rather than how well they interview. Advance the highest scores.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve New Employee Orientation

Fast-track hiring with interview-ready candidates

These four strategies will help your organization interview candidates more efficiently, so you can quickly find the right match for your team before a competitor beats you to the finish line.

Starting with interview-ready, Relode-Certified Candidates streamlines your interview process even further. Our innovative platform was built to deliver high-quality, vetted candidates at scale. We match employers to our growing pool of expert recruiters who source candidates and/or contractors that meet your requirements on demand. You’ll automatically bypass hours of sourcing, initial screenings, and first interview rounds.

By leveraging the AI-powered Relode platform and providing unparalleled insight into barriers to filling your job, we combine the power of technology with the work ethic of a boutique staffing firm.

Discover how Relode will make hiring better for your organization next.