Develop a “1-Day Hiring” Program to Avoid Losing In-Demand Candidates, Part 2 of 2

Odds are that it happens way too frequently at your firm. You finally get a highly qualified applicant for one of your critical jobs, and in what seems like an instant, the prized candidate you are counting on is gone.

walmartThe reason that you can’t land any of these top “in-demand” candidates is simply because they have already accepted another offer before you have even completed your standard interviewing process. Fortunately, there is a way to stop this loss of top candidates, and it is called a one-day hiring program.

One-day hiring is a condensed corporate hiring process where you complete all interviewing and reference checking and you make an offer before the candidate leaves the building. The effectiveness of one-day hiring has been demonstrated many times in the hiring of nurses, call-center staff, and for retail jobs (including Wal-Mart and Urban Outfitters). It is also routinely used when hiring interns and many college hires. In last week’s Part 1, I highlighted the many benefits of a one-day hiring process. This Part 2 covers the recommended action steps for implementing an effective one-day hiring process. 

There are seven available variations of one-day hiring to choose from.

There are several different variations of the one-day model (some also call it “same-day hiring”) to consider. They include:

  1. Basic one-day hiring — under this basic model, you conduct all interviews and reference checking on a single day and if the candidate is acceptable for hiring, you make an offer before the end of the same day.
  2. One-day hiring with an “accept before you leave” component added on — you use the basic one-day model but you add a closing feature, where you encourage the selected candidate to accept before they leave the building, by offering an “accept today sign-on bonus.”
  3. One-day virtual hiring — some candidates simply can’t come in for a face-to-face visit. So under this variation, you use telephone and Skype interviews to do your assessment of candidates, once again all on the same day. Electronic or standard reference checking is completed on the same day.
  4. “Same-evening” hiring — it is often difficult for candidates to come in during the day because they have work commitments. In this case, use a “same evening hiring model,” which is where hiring managers and interviewers dedicate an evening to making instant hires. It’s essentially an invited open house where the team makes presentations to sell the invitees. Electronic reference checking on every invitee is completed prior to the evening event. Each “very qualified” candidate who shows promise, interest, and fit goes through an informal interview. The finalists go through a formal interview with the team that evening and the team makes hiring decisions. An HR person is present to put together the offers and the selected candidates are encouraged to say “yes” before leaving. A variation on this model involves holding a similar invited open house on a Saturday or a holiday.
  5. One-day interviewing — because interviews are the prime reason why hiring takes so long, under this variation you are satisfied with simply holding all interviews on a single day during a single visit. This one interviewing model can also be used at industry conferences. The rest of the hiring process can be completed over the next few days.
  6. One-day pre-qualifying — another variation to consider is a pipeline or a “prequalifying” approach. This is where you interview and designate the top candidates as “approved for hiring” but you don’t actually give them a job until the next opening occurs in that job. Even though there is a delay involved in actually receiving a job offer, this works for many candidates who really want to work for your firm because they know that they will be automatically qualified when the next job opens up.
  7. Same week hiring — when one-day hiring is an unrealistic goal, under this variation you complete all hiring during a single business week.

There is a thorough pre-assessment.

If you are worried about making really fast hiring decisions, realize that under this process, there is a thorough assessment and vetting of the candidate. Obviously, before they qualify for the process, their resume and LinkedIn profile must be thoroughly examined by several individuals to ensure that they meet the “very-qualified” bar. And then during the one or more days before the candidate can clear time on their calendar to come in, recruiters check social media, conduct a Google search, and they at the very minimum electronically check the references of those to be invited in. That means that there is less to do on the actual interview/hiring day. The goals of that single hiring day can be limited to 1) ensuring that their pre-assessed skill level are “accurate”; 2) assessing their fit with the firm’s culture, manager, and team; and 3) sell the candidate on the position.

Remember that even though a hiring decision is finalized on a single day, what appears to be a quick decision is in fact a thorough hiring decision.

12 Action Steps That Make Quality Hiring Possible Under the One-day Approach

The steps you should consider taking when developing your own one-day hiring process should include:

  1. Make the business case for one-day hiring — even if your executives are initially supportive of the idea, put together a compelling business case for both executives and hiring managers. Demonstrate that the process has a high ROI and that it results in high-performing and innovative hires who simply could never have been landed using your traditional drawn out hiring process. As part of that business case, show the percentage of improvement in on-the-job performance of these one-day hires, compared to traditional hires. If you do a pilot 1-day process that focuses exclusively on easy-to-measure jobs like sales, customer service, and call centers, it is much easier to prove and quantify your impact. Never forget that the goal for these targeted jobs is to hire fast, not for the sake of speed, but because slow hiring results in lower-quality hires. After the processes has been operating for a while, be sure to measure hiring manager, recruiter, and candidate satisfaction to see if they like the sped up process.
  2. Decide which jobs qualify for one-day hiring — one-day hiring is not for every job. It should be reserved for the 5 percent to 20 percent of jobs that are really hard to fill, because the most qualified candidates for the job are off the market in days. Verify that fact by taking a small sample of candidates in these targeted jobs and call each one every day in order to determine if they are in fact gone within 7 to 10 days. Recruiting leaders (as opposed to individual hiring managers) should make the final decision on which jobs qualify for one-day hiring.
  3. Decide which candidates qualify for the one-day hiring process under each job — one of the primary reasons why traditional hiring takes so long is that you must compare candidates to see who has the best qualifications. However, if you clearly define in advance what exactly are your “interview them right away qualifications” for each one-day hire job, you can make fast hiring decisions without needing to compare a number of candidates. You should also consider designating employee referrals from your top performers and very qualified boomerang candidates (former employees who were once top-performers) as eligible for one-day hiring. And after several hires, you should double check to make sure that candidates who have the “interview them right away” qualifications actually turn out to be top-performing hires. Immediately identify and bring in for one-day hiring all exceptionally qualified “in-demand” candidates for any critical open job.
  4. Decide which hiring managers qualify for the one-day hiring program — many hiring managers will not be automatically suited for one-day hiring. So educate the hiring managers for these targeted jobs and to make sure that they know the dos and don’ts of the one-day hiring process. In some cases, recruiting leaders should qualify or designate which hiring managers can use the process. Managers who don’t follow the process rules or who end up hiring weak employees should be retrained or excluded from the program
  5. Select the right day for one-day hiring — a one-day hiring process can only be effective if hiring managers and interviewers are available on that day. It may take some trial and error experimentation but start with days where you have team meetings already scheduled, so everyone is likely to be already there. Also consider designating certain days each month as one-day hiring days where everyone involved in hiring must be there (i.e. “Interview Fridays”). In some cases, Saturdays, holidays, or certain evenings can be designated as times when everyone involved in hiring must be present. Also institute a rule that team members who don’t participate in the one-day process, either in person or remotely, automatically lose their vote on that candidate.
  6. Create a video covering interview questions that are agreed to in advance — one-day hiring is made much easier if everyone agrees in advance on what interview questions should be asked. The candidate’s first comprehensive interview of the day should include these questions. Tape this interview. Recording the interview allows others who couldn’t attend that initial interview to view it any time during the one-day hiring process, so you can also get their buy-in. A video recording also gives you a record of what happened, so if the candidate turns out to be a weak hire, you can review the video later to see where your interview went wrong. One final requirement that helps to ensure consistent assessment on job-related factors is to require each evaluator to use a candidate scoring sheet that is specific to this job. After that initial comprehensive interview, a second or final interview can focus on determining if the candidate fits and on selling them on the job.
  7. Consider a “speed interviewing” approach — speed interviewing, which limits interviews to five minutes, is adapted from the speed dating model. It works because research shows that most hiring decisions are made within the first few minutes of an interview. Under speed interviewing, each candidate goes through a five-minute interview and then the candidate rotates on to the next interviewer until all interviewers have assessed all candidates (it may surprise you to know that this approach has proven to be almost as accurate as traditional interviews). This process gives each interviewer the freedom to ask whatever questions they feel appropriate. A final lengthier interview can be conducted by the hiring manager on those candidates who have been judged by a designated percentage of your interviewers as “immediately hireable.” Provided of course that they receive no “blackball votes” from among the interviewers.
  8. Conduct both pre-assessments and reference checking — the best one-day hiring approaches involve a great deal of pre-assessment in order to minimize hiring mistakes. The pre-assessment process, which occurs prior to hiring day, almost always includes checking their LinkedIn profile, conducting a Google search on the individual, and reviewing their social media profiles. The pre-assessment can also include telephone interviews, an online questionnaire interview, and/or online skill and technical knowledge tests prior to their one-day of interviews. Some firms use vendors to conduct electronic reference checking in advance of hiring day, while others wait until the end of the hiring day to do their reference checking. If you are unable to satisfactorily complete the reference checking, you can make any offer to a candidate contingent upon the later successful completion of all reference checking.
  9. Identify a candidate’s job acceptance criteria in advance — another significant contributor to traditional hiring delays occurs because interviewers struggle over multiple interviews to identify a candidate’s expectations in a job. You can significantly shorten that discovery process by simply asking candidates to list their job acceptance criteria in advance of hiring day. With this information, you can tailor your sales pitch and your offer so that it meets their expectations. Asking for their job acceptance criteria also forces the candidates to decide on precisely what they want in a job. This means that if you meet each of their criteria, you can in effect minimize any need for a delay in their accepting your one-day offer.
  10. Always include a “delay option” if you are unsure about a candidate — if there is any significant uncertainty, you certainly don’t want to rush into a hiring decision. To give yourself some decision time, any one-day hiring process should include a “take-more-time” option, which you exercise if you find that there are still any major lingering doubts about the candidate’s qualifications, references, or fit.
  11. Include a bonus for candidates who make their decision quickly — the value of making a hiring decision in a single day is reduced if the candidate doesn’t immediately say yes to your offer. This is because providing any extra decision time may allow an in-demand candidate to solicit a counteroffer from their current boss or to push a competitor firm to sweeten their existing offer. To avoid any hesitation in a candidate’s decision, include in your offer a sign-on bonus for accepting your offer before they leave the building. Another bonus option is to offer exploding sign-on bonuses, which decrease in amount each day that a candidate delays a decision. For example, the candidate could be offered a $3,000 sign-on if they decided that day, $2,000 if the wait until the next day, $1,000 if they wait another additional day, and the bonus moves to zero after that (Nortel was a benchmark firm for this practice).
  12. Educate your candidates to minimize anxiety — an expedited one-day hiring process can make some candidates extremely nervous. In order to minimize any anxiety, provide those eligible for the one-day process with a sheet that fully explains why you are doing it, step-by-step details on the process, FAQs, and how the process benefits them. You may further reduce their anxiety about the job itself by providing “a day-in-the-life video” (taken by the team on a mobile phone) that can serve as a realistic job preview.

In addition to the 12 key steps outlined above, you might also consider these supplemental one-day hiring program features.

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  • Consider expediting requisitions — another major delay factor in traditional hiring is waiting for the job requisition to be approved. For one-day hiring, you should have an expedited requisition approval process for whenever an exceptional individual applies to your firm and there is no open requisition. Also consider designating the jobs that qualify for one-day hiring as Evergreen jobs, which means that you hire every one of the very qualified candidates, whenever they become available (until an executive tells you to stop).
  • Consider including a peer interview –- one of the best ways to minimize candidate doubts in any hiring process is to provide at least one peer interview. These are effective because people who currently hold the job (i.e. their peers) are likely to be more authentic and knowledgeable about the good and bad aspects of the job. Their peers may also be able to provide the most realistic job preview and they are frequently more effective at selling the job and making the candidate more confident that it’s okay to make a quick acceptance decision.
  • Use low-risk sources for one-day hiring candidates –- certain candidate finding sources (like employee referrals and boomerang rehires) routinely have the highest track record for producing quality applicants who turn out to be top performers on the job. As a result, track one-day hire successes and failures in order to identify the best sources, which routinely produce quality hires, with few on-the-job failures.
  • Consider the option of exclusively using live video interviews –– in many cases, employed or remotely located candidates simply can’t get away from work in order to physically show up for your one-day hiring. In many other cases, hiring managers are also out of the office on hiring day. So especially in these cases, consider relying 100 percent on Skype video interviews. Yes, a few candidates and hiring managers will complain about missing out on an in-person meeting. But in many cases if you don’t use these remote interviews, you simply will lose out on any chance to land top performers and innovators. Later check to see if there is any difference in the on-the-job performance of those hired via Skype interviews versus those hired under one-day face-to-face interviews.
  • Consider designating one-day hiring recruiters — because one-day hiring is obviously a bit rushed, train and “qualify” the recruiters who bring in candidates under it.
  • Squeeze the air out of your traditional hiring process — regardless of what you decide to do concerning a one-day hire process, examine your normal hiring process. Look for bottlenecks, weak integration/ silos, unnecessary delays, unnecessary approvals, and scheduling issues that not only add no value but they detract from your ability to hire top candidates. Talk to experts in your supply chain or expediter functions, because they excel at squeezing the air out of processes. Set a goal to make it as streamlined as possible.

Final Thoughts

If you’re fighting a war for talent and you find that you are losing out because your hiring process takes forever, add a one-day hiring process to your recruiting options. There is no law that requires you to make slow and drawn-out hiring decisions, so how fast you hire is strictly up to you as long as you use a consistent process. Of course, as with anything new, you are likely to get some initial pushback from managers, recruiters, and HR people. But that resistance will fade away completely when they see the amazing results that one-day hiring produces. My research reveals that the one-day hiring process works best for jobs where quality candidates are gone quickly and where there are constant vacancies due to rapid growth or high employee turnover.

If you’re still not convinced of the value of making rapid hiring decisions, consider this analogy. Remember your high school prom and the intense competition for the best and most popular dates. The longer you waited before asking the in-demand potential dates, the less likely that you would get a yes to your offer. And if you waited 25 days to make an offer to your target date (25 days is the average time to fill a job in the U.S.) you would have been guaranteed to end up with an “ugly date”! The same phenomenon occurs in hiring, where long delays in making offers also guarantees that you can only end up with less desirable hires.

Some of the Related Conference Sessions at the ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego:

Dr. John Sullivan

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.