One-Day Hiring Made Easy: Part II

What Is One-Day Hiring? One-day hiring is a deliberate strategy for improving both the quality and the number of hires by making hiring decisions on top candidates in one-day! Steps In One-Day Hiring One-day hiring means making a one-day decision–but not a quick and uniformed decision. The steps you need to take in order to make great and fast hiring decisions include the following:

  1. Decide which jobs qualify as one-day hire jobs. One-day hiring is not for all jobs. It works best in the 10% to 25% of jobs that are really “hard to fill.” In these jobs there is always a shortage of talent, and the candidates that you do attract are likely to have multiple offers.
  2. Qualify Managers. Not all managers are ready for one-day hiring. Only the top hiring managers that hire more than a dozen people a year (with good results) should be encouraged to do one-day hiring.
  3. Pre-Identify Potential Candidates. It is unlikely that the top people in any field will conveniently be available on the day you have an open requisition. If you pre-identify the top talent and “up and comers” prior to the actual need, you automatically have more time to assess and to sell them. If you “personally court” them you can build a long term relationship with them and convince them to call you first when they begin to look.
    • Offer rewards. Reward employees, ex-employees, customers, salespeople and “references” for acting as your talent scouts. Reward them both for supplying names and again if a candidate is actually hired.
    • Check your database. If you have a “who’s who” database or some other process of pre-identifying stars in your industry, you probably already have some information and assessments. If several people in your company have already independently identified candidates as a star at a conference, at a trade show, in a chat room or through some other way, you are half way there. By having two or three people independently identify them you are likely to have already realized that they are top talent.
  4. Pre-qualify the potential candidates. Great one-day hiring starts with an essential first step: pre-assessment. Interviewing “strangers” or people you barely know through their resumes can be a disaster. If you know the candidate and their capabilities as early as possible before the actual interview day, you can screen them for their fit with the organization and you can begin the process of convincing them to say “yes.” You can pre-qualify people long before you need them, just like you can pre-qualify for a mortgage!
    • Set WOW instant hire criteria. Look at the selection criteria and identify the set of higher standards that, if they were met, would qualify a candidate for a one-day hire interview.
    • Use high success-rate sources. Top sources (like referrals from your top employees and ex-employees that were top performers) are unlikely to produce anything but one-day hire candidates. Referrals from top-performing employees are already pre-assessed. If an employee knows them and refers them, the odds of them not being qualified are reduced dramatically. If the referral program includes a requirement that employees also must pre-sell the firm to them, they might also come into the process partially convinced and definitely informed about the company and the job. If someone who is not an employee refers them (like a customer, key supplier or former employee ) the same would also likely be true.
    • Use remote assessment. Do as much remote pre-assessment as possible through reviewing personal Web pages, informal meetings at conferences, and through their comments on Internet chat rooms and list servers.
  5. Pre-interview assessment of the selected final candidates. Before you are ready to do some actual hiring, it’s time to do some final pre-assessment of those whom you want to invite in for a one-day hire. Some of the steps I recommend for pre-interview assessment include:
    • Do a telephone or online interview.
    • Give them a simulation or a real company problem to solve prior to the interview (which is certainly the best way to assess people). In some cases, this can be done in advance and even on the Internet. Several firms have this process in place already.
    • Offer online skill assessment “tests.”
    • Do informal discussions over dinner, at golf, etc.
    • Send them a questionnaire or email them some questions.
    • Formally hire them for a “weekend” or as a consultant to assess how they actually work with your team.
    • Ask your managers who have worked with these people previously (when they were a consultant, contractor, or even while in school or at another company) to assess them.
    • Consider pre-checking their skills by calling people who are well known in the industry and asking them in a general way about candidates (pre-reference checking).
  6. Pre-interview questionnaire. A few days before the interview you can gather information that can speed up the one-day hiring process by sending them a pre-interview questionnaire.
    • Pre-determine their job acceptance decision criteria by sending them a pre-interview questionnaire (or have them fill one out the day they come in). Ask them to prioritize (force rank) their job acceptance criteria. You might also ask them to fill out a “dream job” sheet or to write their own “offer letter.”
    • Ask them to identify what they see as a great work environment, and what tasks or projects they would like to work on.
    • Ask what frustrates them or what they don’t like.
    • Ask what motivates them.
    • And finally, ask how they like to be managed (i.e. what is the management style that works the best for them?).

    By requiring them to force rank these things, you get some idea of what their interests and goals are.

  7. Pre-interview realistic job previews. Next, prior to any interview you want to give them a realistic job preview. The goal here is that if they know precisely what the job is like they will generally self-select out rather than make a mistake and pick something that won’t work. (You can show them pictures of the parking lot at six o’clock at night or you can have narratives written by co-workers about the work environment, the number of hours, about the management style, the projects, the stress level etc.) One of the best selection tools is allowing the candidates to use their own personal criteria to select out prior to the interview. Things that might concern candidates can be shown to them up front. This helps them understand what it is like at your firm so that you can narrow the list of candidates down to people who are interested in what you have to offer.
  8. Getting everyone available on “interview day.” You must make sure all interviewers are available on the day the candidates come in. Most of the delays in hiring are caused by scheduling issues because managers are unavailable for interviews. Generally this can be resolved by:
    • Declaring “interview Friday” (or one Friday a month or the first Friday of the month). By setting aside a day just for interviews you eliminate some scheduling confusion. Interview day is just some fixed day that managers are told that they must be available for interviews on. Meetings might be cancelled or banned on that day (i.e. no meetings on Friday). This would free up the managers and ensure they are all available on that day.
    • Rewarding managers financially for great hiring and for one-day hiring–there attendance will improve dramatically.
    • Sharing calendars and the availability of teleconference sites online, so managers can remotely interview if they are on the road.
  9. Things to do on the actual “one-day hire” day. On the day the candidate comes in for an interview, there are a variety of things that can and should be done. They include:
    • Assessing their fit with the firm’s culture and team.
    • Selling the candidate on the position.
    • Ensuring that their pre-assessed skill level was “basically” accurate. If they were clearly not a fit, they would not be hired at all. If the fit was weak they would not get a one-day offer but rather would be assessed over more time and perhaps made an offer later.

    On the day of the interview, there are two basic approaches: You can bring the candidate in as part of a “group” at an “invited open house” where several people are brought simultaneously or they can be brought in individually.

    • The candidate would normally be given a walk through the facility to meet the team in order to excite the candidate.
    • You might add a rule that (especially if consensus or team decision is the mode) anyone not available on interview day does not get a vote.
    • The candidate might be asked to fill out a preference form, indicating what motivates them and what excites them about a job. Managers are given that form before the interview so they know what the candidates expectations and preferences are.
    • Interview questions should be assigned to individuals based on the skill of the interviewer. Engineers should only ask engineering questions and HR people should only ask HR questions.
    • If multiple interviews are necessary, be sure to share the interview questions and the candidate’s responses, in order to minimize duplication.
    • Normally, a scoring sheet would be available for each interviewer in order to force them to assess candidates only on the key required skills.
    • You might ask the candidate to present their solution to a problem to better assess their skills.
    • Interviews would be limited to a reasonable number (usually less than six) and the total time would be no more than an hour for each per interview.
    • Group or team interviews certainly are helpful if you are trying to see if the team would be comfortable with them.

    If they were in a “hard to hire” position, they had a significant number of the skills you needed, and they scored above a certain level in the interview, they would be declared an instant hire candidate. Other candidates would be taken for coffee while the managers met to assess the candidate.

  10. Getting them to say yes on the same day. Just like with a car dealership, you might ask the candidate, “What will it take to get you in that car?” The same is true here, “What would it take to get you to say yes to our offer?” One-day offers are great, but the icing on the cake is to get them to accept on the same day. Just like a car salesperson, managers need to realize that if the candidate “walks out the door” without accepting, the chances of a “yes” diminish by as much as 50%! Some of the tools and strategies that you can use to get a same-day yes include:
    • If before the assessment process the candidate has already been asked for their dream job criteria, what are their acceptance criteria?
    • The candidate would be offered a bonus for making a fast decision. For example, a $5,000 sign on if they decided that day, $3,000 if the wait until the next day, and $1,000 if they waited a week.
    • Managers might also get a bonus for great hiring or even making an offer in one-day. You want to excite them and encourage them to be more decisive.
    • If the candidate says yes, they would be encouraged to turn in their resignation letter the next day.
    • Offers can be contingent upon the formal checking of references, but generally offers would be made without completing references. Your knowledge of the candidate is already so strong that it would be unlikely that references would not check out.
  11. Hire fast, fire fast. Not all fast (or slow) hiring works. Smart firms (Cisco for example) develop a no-fault divorce process which allows a firm to “release” hires that didn’t work out within a reasonable time.

Other Tips

  • Increase the amount of the referral bonus if the candidate is determined to be good enough for a one-day hire.
  • Speed up the actual interviews. Ask new hires which questions turned them off and eliminate those. Track which answers predict job success (great answers result in top performing hires) and eliminate questions that add little value in predicting success on the job.
  • Some managers are not fast decision makers. Designating a ODH team do all of your speed hiring may eliminate some of the problems with managers not being ready for this expedited process.

Measures And Metrics

  • Track offer acceptance rates, and see whether delays result in lower “acceptance” rates to your offers.
  • Do a satisfaction survey of candidates and managers to see which process results in the highest candidate-satisfaction rate.
  • Next it would be important for HR to track if one-day hire decisions result in better hires! Meaning to check if one-day hires perform at a level better than normal “slow” hires.

Conclusion Managers and HR people are sometimes reluctant to speed up the hiring process. But there is no law that requires you to take a long time to make decisions. However, there is some evidence that suggests the longer you take during low unemployment periods, the lower the quality of the hire will be. Top candidates are in such demand that they will drop out and accept other offers if you are slow in making decisions. It is very similar to being late in asking a popular person to the prom. The longer you wait to ask the top candidates, the less likely that you’ll get a yes to your offer and the more likely you’ll end up with an “ugly” date!

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.

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