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Post-pandemic Hiring: Making Your Process Faster, Easier, and More Predictive

In the world of post-pandemic hiring, is it wise to make reactive changes to the process? Read this blog to learn about the best approach to improve your process.

The job of human resources practitioners and talent acquisition professionals looks a lot different than it did in 2019. The pandemic has deeply altered the way organizations deliver meaningful candidate experiences with limited opportunity for human contact. This has resulted in an evolving need for post-pandemic hiring.

Despite recent job gains, many organizations, especially those in industries like food service, retail, hospitality, and tourism, are experiencing candidate shortages. The reasons for this are complex. Recent survey data published by Indeed cited several factors influencing people’s decisions about whether to return to work and surprisingly indicated federal benefits behind other factors like spousal income, fears about catching COVID-19, family obligations, and the desire for time off. These individual factors combined with people changing industries permanently during the pandemic and recent wage increases create a hazy picture of the future labor market even after the stimulus ends.

As a result, we are seeing a trend amongst our client base: a need to increase efficiency in the hiring process to reduce time to hire and maximize predictive power. Organizations are looking to reduce time-to-fill so they do not lose out on good candidates, can build their teams to the required capacity, and keep cost-of-hire down. They also want to reduce the time burden on candidates to minimize dropout and perceived barriers to employment. Many are fearful of losing candidates to competitors who are hiring on the spot.

This has led many TA teams to make rash decisions and reactive changes to their hiring processes because of the labor market: many are removing the most predictive components (e.g., assessments and behavioral interviews) from their hiring process and instead of using historical selection criteria like years of experience and education to make hiring decisions. 

Although removing these processes will require less time from each candidate, such practices also lead to businesses shedding valuable HR and technology tools from the selection process which may result in unintended (yet predictable) consequences such as negative candidate experience, high turnover, low new hire performance, poor engagement, and safety and quality issues. Let’s dig in to understand why.

Reactive Change:

  • Removing predictive, job-related measures from the top of the hiring funnel results in more work for recruiters. Collecting consistent, objective data on candidates allows recruiters to quickly stack rank and pass on those that are likely to succeed in the role. Removing this data requires recruiters to revert to old methods like sifting through applications and reading résumés to determine their level of experience and education.
  • Manual processes create inefficiencies and provide less accurate data. The manual process described above is less predictive and impacts later stages of the hiring process: recruiters and hiring managers have less information to drive their interviews. It also takes longer, causing delays between recruitment stages and leaving less time for recruiters to proactively engage with candidates.
  • The experience is worse for candidates and HR. The result is poorer for both the candidate and the organization: the candidate has a poorer experience with less communication, and for the organization, the time to hire likely stays the same but is less effective.
  • There are long-term negative impacts. The downstream impact is also negative: a less predictive process puts the organization at risk of lower performance on the job, higher turnover, and a deteriorated sense of team and culture because of bringing in the wrong people to fill the roles.

In sum, having a small candidate pool and vacancies on your team is challenging. But making reactive changes to the recruitment process will ultimately lead to the wrong hire, negatively impacting performance, team engagement, retention, and culture.

The good news is that there is another option: making evidence-backed changes to your hiring program to focus on real job requirements.

Reactive changes lead to businesses shedding valuable HR and technology tools from the selection process which may result in consequences such as a negative candidate experience, high turnover, low new hire performance, poor engagement, and safety and quality issues.

Evidence-backed Change:

  • Evaluating and cutting everything that wastes time and does not add predictive information. Companies that take this approach will start with a full audit of their processes and tools. They will deem nothing sacred to change. This process starts with a review of the steps in the hiring process to identify and eliminate anything that wastes candidate, recruiter, or hiring manager time including internal inefficiencies, lags in communication with candidates, and hold-ups between steps. They as themselves questions like:
    • How long does each step in the process take?
    • How many days exist between each stage in the recruitment process?
    • Where can we decrease that number by changing our internal processes?
  • Keeping only the most job-relevant and predictive measures. Consider the components included in each step. This includes everything from the application questions, résumé requirements, minimum qualifications, short answer questions, assessments, screenings, and interview questions. During this stage, the evaluation team will answer these questions:
    • Which questions, requirements, and assessments, are most related to job performance?
    • Are we measuring anything we do not use later in the process?
    • Can we score each of our measures to compare candidates and rank based on objective criteria?
    • Are we duplicating efforts, measuring the same competency, or asking the same questions in multiple places in the process?
  • Automating to maximize speed and communication. Most organizations already have technology that allows them to automatically progress candidates to the next stage and send differentiated communications based on a set of criteria, but most do not take full advantage of these platforms. Once you trim down to include only job-relevant, predictive components that can be scored to compare candidates, identify places to automatically move candidates between stages. Also put in place automated internal (between recruitment, HR, and hiring managers) and external (to the candidate) communications to minimize administrative tasks like standard emails and interview scheduling. This type of automated communication can also create transparency for each candidate about the process timeline and steps, making the candidate feel they are playing an active role in the process, and moving the candidate through as quickly as possible:
    • Does each step emphasize transparency in the process about where the candidate is today and what is next?
    • Have we incorporated feedback to candidates in the process?
    • Are these steps as automated as possible?
  • Making faster, more accurate hiring decisions, leading to better long-term outcomes. Hiring processes that flow smoothly internally include the fewest, most job-relevant, most predictive measures, and automated administrative tasks will result in a shorter time to hire, a better candidate experience, and a more predictive process which ultimately leads to stronger performers, higher retention, and overall improved quality of hire.

Note that making strategic changes to your selection process does not change the labor market, those that are experiencing a labor shortage will still face the same candidate flow issues. But those who take an evidence-backed rather than reactive approach to re-evaluating their recruitment process to increase efficiency and maximize predictiveness are setting themselves up for success both in the short-run (by reducing time to hire and maximizing prediction), and in the long run by meeting the changing demands of candidates.

In sum, the pandemic has had a significant and complex impact on the labor market, and talent acquisition teams must adapt to compete to hire the right people and staff their teams. In the post-pandemic hiring ecosystem, the way acquisition teams react, with either reactive or evidence-based change, will impact their future ability to bring in the talent they need to meet the needs of the business. The good news is that talent acquisition teams do not need to sacrifice predictive power to decrease time to hire, minimize dropout, and improve the candidate experience. Auditing and updating current processes based on evidence can be a competitive edge to keep and hire the best talent available in the market. 

Contact us to get started today.

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Erin Lazarus

Erin Lazarus is a people science enthusiast and Industrial-Organizational Psychology leader focused on building teams that provide the opportunity for every person to work at their highest point of contribution. She leads teams to design powerful candidate and employee experiences that allow organizations to harness the power of their people. Her teams partner with business leaders using science and data to enhance people strategy in areas including employee selection, workplace assessment, organizational culture, employee engagement, performance management, succession planning, and leadership development. At SHL, Erin consults with clients to transform productivity through deeper people insight.

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