Spring is a time to let fresh ideas blossom and challenge the status quo.
Take the hiring process. There are some parts that are downright unpleasant. Never hearing back from an organization after what you thought was a successful interview? Frustrating. Being asked to participate in multiple rounds of interviews and complete a skills assessment or assignment with an unrealistic time expectation? Exhausting. Feeling completely unsure how to respond to questions from your potential future supervisor? Stressful.
Thankfully, some of these negative aspects of the hiring process are starting to shift for the better, bringing a measure of transparency and shared expectations for candidates and employers alike. Here are four that we’ve observed over the past year, as well as action steps that hiring managers can take to promote these positive shifts.
Ever found yourself endlessly refreshing your inbox as you anxiously await hearing back from a recruiter or organization? This unfortunately nearly universal experience can be one of the most frustrating aspects of any job search.
Here’s the bottom line: a lack of transparency in the hiring timeline means that employers lose out on great employees and employees might take jobs they wouldn’t otherwise have had they known a different offer was just a week away. That’s why we advocate that – to the extent possible – organizations provide as much detail on the hiring timelines, with updated communication along the way.
As a hiring manager, even if you don’t know the exact timing of events, sharing the sequence in which they occur can be helpful to candidates. For example, a job description could say: “We anticipate a phone interview with HR, an in-person interview with the department leader, then a panel interview with 4-5 senior staff members.” Or perhaps you can only share information as it’s made available – even that is helpful! For example, “We just wrapped up our first-round interviews this week and will let clients know by COB next Wednesday about next steps.” Trust us that any of that information is going to help set your top candidates at ease and keep them interested in the position.
One more note for recruiters and HR staff: if you know you want the person to start by a specific date (or range), include that in your position description, but realize that if that timeline shifts, you’ll need to update the listing everywhere it’s been shared.
Including the salary range and benefits package in a job description is really non-negotiable these days (and in some states it is the law). Doing so builds trust with potential employees and saves time and resources by ensuring that both candidates and employers don’t waste each other’s time. Including salary information in job descriptions also contributes to an overall push toward greater transparency in compensation, which is one important tool in closing the persistent earnings gap for women, people of color, people with disabilities, and other groups that have been historically underpaid for their labor. Enough said.
Compensation for Skills Assessments
That’s right: if you’re going to ask a candidate to do work, you should pay them for it. Many positions in movement organizations may benefit from what’s called a skills assessment, an evaluative tool that can ensure alignment between the candidate and the position. These assessments might take the form of writing a mock grant proposal, interpreting some data, or taking a skills-specific quiz. We support these forms of assessment when they’re customized to the position, and candidates are compensated accordingly.
We encourage you to have a suggested limit on how long the candidates spend on the assessment (“this shouldn’t take longer than 2 hours”), and the compensation is based on the hourly rate of the higher end of the salary range for the suggested time it will take to complete. Candidates often spend hours on the interview process (searching and applying, writing cover letters, customizing their resumes, preparing for each interview, the interview itself, skills assessments) in pursuit of a new opportunity. And many candidates are juggling multiple applications and processes simultaneously! Compensating them for the time and labor they are putting into this portion of the process shows that you value their time and expertise, which could ultimately be the deciding factor in them accepting your offer over another offer.
Sharing Questions in Advance of Interviews
We get it – at first this might seem like cheating on a quiz. Isn’t it more valuable to see how a candidate responds in the spur of the moment? Instead of setting up an “anything goes” situation, however, consider that if you are seeking thoughtful and concise responses, giving candidates a chance to prep may yield better insights into their alignment with the position. In addition, we sometimes come across interview questions that are long or have multiple parts, which can be quite challenging for someone to answer on the spot. In reality, some people are great at answering questions extemporaneously, while others need prep time in order to really shine.
We are increasingly seeing that organizations are sending interview questions about 24 hours in advance of an interview, giving candidates the time and mental space to compose their responses. Does doing so change what somebody says in an interview? Probably yes. But are the responses you get back more organized and relevant to getting to know the candidate? Probably yes.
For those who are interviewing, consider inquiring about getting interview questions ahead of time. The organization might say no – in which case you’ll be in what’s still the default situation of responding on the spot – but just the simple act of asking might get them to consider making this standard practice down the road.
We applaud these changes in the hiring process and would like to hear about your experiences with the topics above. For candidates: how did that experience make you feel and did it change your interest in that organization? For organizations: What challenges are you facing related to these topics and what other hiring processes are you reexamining or changing as a result? Please share your feedback!