Hiring Process (2019)

Hiring Process

Hiring Process and Tips

We’ve all heard it said that a company’s most important asset is its people. When we say we love a company, what we’re really saying is we love the work being done by the people in that company.


People are the reason why Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (Google), and Starbucks remain some of the world’s most admired companies. Good employees who do outstanding work make their companies great. 


Hiring the right employees is so important in any company. So in this tutorial, we explain the steps and stages of the Hiring process and also explore the best tips for Hiring best talent.


Because of this extreme importance of people, Hiring has long been rooted in fear—fear of getting it wrong. Making a mistake can be costly. A bad hire can undermine a department, delay a project, and damage the reputation of the Hiring manager. The damage doesn’t stop there.


To ensure they have the right people, leaders have been encouraged to be “slow to hire and quick to fire.” They’ve adopted interviewing techniques that look at past behavior as a predictor of future performance. They’ve also employed testing and technologies to measure skills, analyze personalities, and assess honesty and integrity.


One or two rounds of interviews with prospective job candidates have expanded into three, four, or even five rounds. As a result of these intensive and expanded efforts, filling one job can take weeks or months— all in an effort to get it right the first time.


This standard approach (keeping a job open until the right person shows up) has a big downside. In an organization, an empty seat is like an open wound. It’s a painful distraction that interferes with the business’s core mission.


The department manager has to manage the extra workload. HR has to add one more task to its already overflowing plate. The talent acquisition team has to scramble to fill one more open job, made harder because of a skills shortage. With every passing day, overtime pay builds up, as do Recruit costs.


Finding enough qualified candidates to interview can take weeks or months. Once they begin, the multiple rounds of interviews are often followed by testing, reference checking, and background checks. Finally, if all goes well, an offer is made to the most qualified person.


However, if that offer is rejected and the second choice candidate has already moved on, the process starts all over again, adding more time, more effort, more expense, more overtime, more interviews.


Has slow to hire and quick to fire worked? Not if you’re a leader with an unfilled job. Certainly not if you’re in HR and can’t find enough qualified people.


Definitely not if you’re in talent acquisition, and your best candidate was hired by a faster competitor. Time-to-fill (the length of time it takes to fill a job) is at an all-time high and there’s been no improvement to employee turnover.


The world operates on a faulty premise: People equate time and effort spent on Hiring with making a quality hire. The more time they take, the more energy they expend, the better the hire will be. It gives them a false sense of control.


Taking lots of time to hire doesn’t save companies from bad hires; it only saves people from making a decision they’re afraid may be wrong. It’s not that these are bad people. They simply have bought into a bad idea.


The old way of Hiring is to keep a job open until the right person shows up. It’s created long time-to-fill, lots of open seats, higher expenses, added effort, and frustrated leaders.


There’s a new way to hire that’s faster, efficient, and effective. Instead of waiting for the right person to show up, the new way to hire is to wait for the right job to show up.


Instead of waiting until a seat is empty to search for talent, the new way of Hiring starts the talent search before that job opens. Rather than Hiring from behind, it requires that leaders plan ahead, lining up talented people before they are needed.


The importance of having talented people in each role exactly when they’re needed makes the new way of Hiring a strategic imperative. Everyone involved in employee selection—executives, Hiring managers, HR, and recruiters—is part of an efficient process that fills jobs the day they become open.


If you’re thinking this sounds too simple or too good to be true, you’re not alone. That’s a common reaction—that is until you look at how the rest of the world has gotten much faster, and how those lessons apply to Hire.


What Causes Long Time-to-Fill?


Why does it take some companies weeks or months to fill just one job? Maybe it’s the companies’ reputation if they’re known as bad places to work. Possibly, it’s their location if they’re situated in a part of town that’s difficult to reach.


Also, it could be an undesirable work environment, low pay, or a benefits package that’s lousy. While one or more of these issues can be a factor in attracting quality candidates, most companies blame long time-to-fill on a shortage of available talent. However, available talent is not a real problem.


Some companies fill their open seats with relative ease and speed, even though there are more jobs than people to fill them. What makes these organizations truly different isn’t their reputation, location, work environment, or pay and benefits. It’s how they’ve chosen to address the talent shortage.


They recognize that the old way of Hiring— keeping a job open until the right person shows up—doesn’t work when there’s a people shortage. The leaders in these companies understand that a reactive process doesn’t work and that the old way of Hiring resulted from having the wrong mindset.


Today, these leaders and their companies engage in the new way of Hiring by actively cultivating top talent and then waiting for the right job to open. They’ve acknowledged that there’s always a shortage of talent, which requires a shift in thinking and a permanent change in Hiring strategy.


The Perpetual Talent Shortage

 Talent Shortage

For years, the media has bombarded us with stories about the skills shortage. Not enough people have been available to manage the volumes of data being crunched by businesses.


A scarcity of welders, electricians, and machinists has hampered manufacturers. Companies have struggled to fill openings for sales reps, teachers, and nurses. The talent shortage has also slowed the construction of new homes.


While technology has improved some aspects of Hiring, it hasn’t eliminated open jobs and lengthy Hiring delays. The Internet, in particular, has leveled the playing field. Your company and all of your competitors can reach out to top talent. Candidates also have easier access to you. They often apply for lots of jobs, including ones for which they’re ill-suited.


This creates a flood of resumes, many of which won’t fit your needs. A robust Hiring effort, such as this, used to be available only to large organizations; now small companies can mount a campaign that steers more candidates their way.


Highly qualified candidates have many choices, including the option of doing their own thing by joining the “gig economy” as freelancers. Technology has actually magnified the skills shortage, straining a talent pool that is nearly tapped out.


The problem isn’t people. There have never been enough qualified candidates to go around. That’s a fact that isn’t going to change. Ongoing innovations will constantly create a vacuum for new skills. The Internet’s availability as a Hiring tool will continue to expand, creating increased demand for the finite supply of talent.


People will gain more options for how they choose to work, further diminishing the availability of candidates for full-time jobs. As globalization increases, borders will matter less, creating a talent competition, unlike anything we’ve seen before.


The real problem is a process. Most companies keep a job open until the right person shows up. These companies are stuck in the old way. It’s not that they don’t want to hire differently; it’s that they don’t know how.


The Damaging Impact of the Scarcity Mindset

Scarcity Mindset

Yes, the shortage of talent makes Hiring difficult, especially when you engage in the old way of Hiring. If you’re like most leaders, you want to hire differently. However, it’s hard to think your way out of this problem. Especially when you’re facing odds that appear insurmountable.


Watch almost any sport and you’ll easily see the impact of a negative mindset. When one team racks up goal after goal, the other team loses steam. The bigger the scoring gap, the harder it becomes for the losing team to compete.


As the winning club dominates, the other side forgets their plays and makes mistakes. The players on the losing team can’t seem to keep their heads in the game.


Mindset matters a lot. A scoreboard, whether it’s tracking results in sports or monitoring Hiring statistics in corporate life, can trigger negative thinking.


Add to this persistent bad news, such as all of the ongoing press coverage of skills shortages, and it’s normal that you’d be concerned, even fearful, about your prospects of finding the talented people you need for your jobs.


These negative emotions not only make work stressful, they actually undermine your resourcefulness.


Numbers Don’t Lie

Numbers Don’t Lie

Finding good software developers can be difficult. If you’re in San Jose, California, the heart of Silicon Valley, it may seem impossible. Especially when you look at the numbers.


From September 2018 through February 2019, there were 54,250 open software developer jobs in San Jose. Compare that to the active supply of candidates available to fill those jobs—just 4,408.


Two of the companies competing for these software developers have been battling over talent for decades. The larger of the two is a well-known technology company with thousands of employees. Having a reputation for developing high-quality products, the company gets great press for its innovative approaches.


On Glassdoor Job Search, a job and Hiring site with millions of employer reviews, people give the company high marks. Positive comments praise the corporate environment and engaging work, the talented colleagues whom the company hires, and their easily accessible location.


Having a great story to tell, the talent acquisition department employs numerous methods for drawing in potential new hires, including formalized referral programs, postings on job boards, a robust website to draw in applicants, and live and virtual open houses.


The other company is smaller in size, isn’t as well known, and, as a result, gets less press coverage—much less. Their products receive decent reviews; some people like them while others do not. Comments on Glassdoor offer faint praise for the work environment and numerous complaints about the location of the facility and the lack of advancement opportunities.


Their talent acquisition team, if you can really call it that, comprises the staff in HR, who also perform all of the other tasks you might expect of a human resources department, including onboarding new hires, managing benefits, and processing endless piles of employee paperwork.


Like the larger firm, they use multiple methods for drawing in talent, including job boards, referral generation, their own website, and a few open houses each year. However, the smaller size of their HR team limits the time they can devote to these tools.


It’s reasonable to expect that the larger company would have more success in Hiring talented candidates. Their all-around better circumstances should provide the means and the motivation to do better. The talent acquisition team can take great pride in sharing their story as they leverage the wealth of Hiring resources at their disposal.


It’s also reasonable to expect that the smaller firm would always be one step behind, scrambling to grab second- or third-tier leftover talent. However, that’s not the case.


Like a short, nerdy kid who surprises everyone when he knocks down a bully, the smaller firm has been winning the talent battle, beating the bigger company year after year. Why? Because their leaders treat the skills shortage as though it were a myth.


The Process Problem

Process Problem

While the global talent shortage is an ongoing reality, it’s not really your problem. After all, your company isn’t responsible for filling all the world’s open jobs. The only jobs you need to fill are your own.


That shift in thinking puts the skills shortage in a perspective that’s manageable. Rather than being a pervasive problem, the skills shortage is merely a challenge that can be solved by a better process.


The critical problem—the only one you can control—is having the right kind of Hiring process. The right process taps into a sufficient pool of talent and efficiently moves candidates toward hiring.


If you want to eliminate empty seats and reduce time-to-fill, you have to address the problem in its entirety. You have to change both your mindset and process. Instead of focusing on talent scarcity, you must adopt a belief in talent sufficiency: That the right approach will generate enough qualified people to fill open jobs.


Since speed is essential, you have to require everyone involved in the selection process to think nimbly and act swiftly. The methods that comprise the process must address all the factors slowing down fast Hiring. Then, and only then, can your organization hire in an instant?


What Slows Fast Hiring?

Fast Recruiting

The key to speed is having an efficient process—one that eliminates the three main Hiring obstacles. Let’s look at each obstacle, one at a time.


Obstacle 1: Tapping Into a Candidate Pool That’s Too Small

If you asked employers why they can’t fill jobs, over a third will tell you they’re not getting enough applicants, or they’re getting no applicants at all. Yet, only 10 percent of these employers leverage untapped talent pools.


Faster Hiring requires mass: You must build a critical mass of candidates to select from. Building mass requires tapping into overlooked pools of people.


Obstacle 2: Employing Interviewing Methods That Are Inaccurate and Slow

During conventional interviews, candidates are on their best behavior. As a result, interviews are often a poor barometer as to who will fail or succeed in a given role. Newer interview methods, such as behavioral interviewing, have only made the process longer.


Hundreds of blogs and articles have been written on how to beat behavioral interviews. These blogs and articles demonstrate simple methods for telling interviewers exactly what they want to hear.


Interviews cannot be a conceptual exercise. They must allow you to see proof then-and-there that a candidate can do the job and do it well.


Obstacle 3: Failing to Build and Maintain a Prospective Employee Pipeline

Employee Pipeline

When a seat opens suddenly, the amount of activity it generates can feel overwhelming. Without an active talent pipeline, a frantic dance ensues. Managers have to handle extra work as the company tries to find suitable candidates.


Days later, schedules have to be coordinated for phone screenings and interviews. Work piles up, good candidates take other jobs and nerves fray.


Maintaining a pipeline of prospective employees eliminates the dance. When jobs open, there’s no rush, panic, or chaos. Instead, you can hire from your overflowing pipeline.


The Need for Speed


In Hiring, is there a need for speed? Only if the status quo dissatisfies you. That’s why mindset matters so much. Moving into the fast lane requires a conscious decision and ongoing commitment. You’ve got to decide that, when it comes to Hiring, from now on your organization will stand for speed.


You won’t be navigating the world of fast Hiring alone. I’ll guide you through safely increasing the pace of every aspect of employee selection. I’ll address how to eliminate the three obstacles that slow fast Hiring.


You’ll discover how to implement a process that allows you to swiftly and accurately fill one role, several job titles, or all of your jobs in an instant.


What may surprise you is how familiar some of these ideas may seem. You’re already living in a world getting quicker by the day. In our next blog, we’ll take a closer look at the principles that drive our fast-paced, on-demand economy and how they apply to fast and accurate Hiring.


Action List

To prepare your company for a faster approach to Hiring, take the following steps.


Identify Negative Mindsets

Negative mind

Think about each of the people in your department or company involved in Hiring. What negative mindsets do they bring to the task? Don’t get angry with these people, and avoid trying to change their thinking. Just take note, knowing that these mindsets are where people are likely to resist or get stuck as you implement your faster-Hiring process.


Stay Informed, Not Immersed

It’s prudent to stay informed about skills shortages, but dangerous to be immersed in tons of bad news and data. Daily work is hard enough without living under a cloud of gloom. There are credible sources that provide snapshots of talent shortages and Hiring trends. Here are a few I rely upon:


Spot Your Process Problems

Honestly appraise your complete Hiring process. Where does it go well, slow down, or come to a halt? Which of the three Hiring obstacles constitutes your organization’s biggest downfall? How have negative mindsets contributed to the problem?


Knowing ahead of time which parts of your process are fast or slow is important. Your insights will help you keep what works and replace what doesn’t with ideas from upcoming blogs.


Find the Early Adopters

Identify your company’s early adopters. Early adopters are the people who are often first; they, for instance, wait in line for the new mobile device the day it’s released. Their willingness, even desire, to be first makes them valuable partners for you.


Share this blog with them. By enrolling them now, you’ll have ready-made collaborators to help you implement High-Velocity Hiring.


The Talent Accelerator Process

Talent Accelerator Process

Apply the Principles of the On-Demand Economy to Fill Jobs in an Instant


In our on-demand world, we have come to expect that we should get what we want when we want it. That’s the secret of fast, accurate Hiring: Implementing a process that allows us to hire who we need when we need them. It’s about filling an open seat right now. Not weeks from now.


Our insatiable appetite for products and services on command has led to the creation of the on-demand economy. It becomes safe and easy to hire with speed when we apply the principles of the on-demand economy to employee recruitment. That’s the essence of High-Velocity Hiring—gaining the power to hire right now.


The Power of Right Now

Right Now

Instant gratification drives the on-demand economy. The buying of products and services has been sped up by the Internet. However, the roots of on-demand can be found in a surprising place—automobile dealerships.


That’s the power of right now. Immediacy is engaging; delays are discouraging. When we get our needs met right now, we needn’t keep looking. The longer that we have to wait, the more likely we are to consider other options.


Along the Hiring process is discouraging, prompting people to take matters into their own hands. Top talent will seek other opportunities when an employer fails to act quickly. Hiring managers will circumvent company policies when their jobs remain unfilled. Staffing agencies will shop candidates with other customers when buyers take too long to respond.


A fast on-demand approach to filling jobs leverages the power of now. When we’re part of an efficient, forward-moving process, we feel in control. Feeling in control is satisfying and engaging, making it easier to trust the process and those who run the process.


Immediacy satisfies our human desire for instant gratification. Being able to buy almost anything from one source is convenient. Being able to buy it right now is gratifying. So much so that it’s changed our expectations about the buying experience.


Speed Versus Haste

The goal of IBM Watson is to lead society into the next era of computing, creating new tools that help people do what they couldn’t do before. To achieve this, Louissaint and his Hiring team had to ensure they had qualified people, exactly when they were needed—without ever Hiring in haste.


“There’s a big difference between speed and haste,” said Louissaint. “Haste has no place in employee selection. Rushed decisions often lead to poor choices. These mistakes result from an ineffective approach that wasn’t built to deliver fast and accurate hires. Speed is different. It is simply part of a well-planned process for achieving great results quickly.”


Rather than make hasty Hiring decisions based on whim, Louissaint has formally baked speed into IBM Watson’s process for talent acquisition. “The operative words are plan and process,”


he says. “Fast and accurate Hiring isn’t a fluke. It happens because leaders plan for it, implements a process to achieve it, and hold people accountable for following the plan.”


Paradoxically, Hiring quickly can’t be done in haste. Haste causes harm to companies and careers. Organizations need a streamlined employee selection process that allows them to make intelligent decisions without cutting corners or compromising values.


Seven principles underlie the on-demand economy. Applying these principles allows companies to deliver their products and services with speed, not haste. When applied to Hire, these same principles allow organizations to design a recruitment process that is fast, accurate, and efficient.


The Seven Principles of an On-Demand System

On-Demand System

Applied in order, the following seven principles create the framework for increasing speed without sacrificing quality.


Principle 1: Start at the End

Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon didn’t just wake up one day and decide to start selling memberships for Prime. The idea was suggested by Amazon engineer Charlie Ward. He recognized that not all Amazon customers are price conscious; some have needs that are time-sensitive.


His recommendation for a speedy shipping club resulted from his awareness that the company could better meet the needs of customers who wanted expedited shipping. To make this idea work, Amazon had to identify and overcome pitfalls and then sell the positive impacts of this new service.


Starting at the end allows organizations to determine why there is a need for faster results and the impacts, positive and negative, this will create.


Specifying the desired outcome and its positive impacts make it a tangible goal, one whose benefits can be easily communicated. Taking time up front to identify potential pitfalls allows leaders to design a process that addresses those issues.


Deciding to hire faster starts in the end. Your company will need to decide whether it wants to fill one, several, or many jobs in an instant.

That decision will have positive impacts that help you engage your colleagues and possible pitfalls that will require attention. That’s why this principle is the first and most important. It will guide every other decision you make.


Principle 2: Layer in Unwavering Quality

Quality service

My experiences with taxis have been mixed. Dirty cabs, smelly drivers, and frightful driving turned some cab rides into an adventure. Not so with Uber. Clean cars and drivers who got me to my destinations with care have made me a repeat customer.


A friend who works for Uber explained that drivers agree to maintain a high standard of professional service. When a customer complains, the company follows up to address the issue, terminating relationships when those issues persist.


Maintaining quality as speed increases has to be an immutable standard. How? It’s part of the plan. Methods are included in the process that ensures and measure quality, including steps for rectifying any problems that arise. Speed and quality become interdependent rather than mutually exclusive.


Speed can never supplant quality when Hiring. The two must go hand-in-hand. An accelerated process has to improve quality, ensuring that your company can quickly make smart choices versus hires you later regret.


Principle 3: Bake in Speed

Companies who deliver on-demand prepare to be fast. A faster process has speed baked in. This includes a streamlined system for achieving the end result, including methods that address those previously identified pitfalls. Simplicity is also baked in to assure sustainability and ease of communicating the process.


Hiring is more complex than building a sandwich. However, it’s become an overly complicated, slow process with too many steps and too much effort. Streamlining how Hiring is done requires that you do less labor-intensive work that achieves better hires quickly.


Principle 4: Build Capacity

Build Capacity

The initial introduction of Amazon Dash was by invitation only. Controlling the number of customers who accessed this new service allowed the company to mindfully rollout, test, and tweak the program.


A few months later, it was made available to the general public for a limited number of products, the next phase of mindful expansion. The rollout expanded from there to include Dash buttons for other products.


Building capacity starts with preparation, coordinating plans for implementation with competing demands and the availability of time and resources.


The initial rollout is done with care, without unnecessarily overtaxing people or systems. Capacity is increased prudently, allowing for adjustments and changes to the process, as necessary, to maintain quality and speed.


Implementing a faster Hiring system will require that you have the same degree of thoughtfulness. Your timelines and deadlines should be considered carefully.


You’ll need to allocate adequate time and resources without undermining other initiatives. Like many organizations, you may choose to start with one position in one department, leveraging positive results as a catalyst to incrementally increase capacity.


Principle 5: Expand Prudently

Netflix has become an award-winning producer of original series like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, an impressive result for a movie rental company. The evolution from delivering DVDs by mail to a streaming movie service to an Internet television network exemplifies prudent expansion.


The leaders of Netflix had to plan, execute, and troubleshoot their growth carefully while always keeping the end in mind: Providing members with the ability to watch as much programming as they want, anytime, anywhere.


Maintaining fulfillment capabilities beyond market demand is a requirement for prudent expansion. Immediacy is always at the heart of being on-demand. The end goal is always top of mind, guiding efforts and focusing ambitions.


Plans are constantly compared to desired results; what contributes to the goal is maintained and what detracts from the goal is removed.


Fast and accurate Hiring requires vigilance: Your process should be expanded prudently and never be pushed to deliver beyond its capabilities. Your colleagues must be able to trust the process.


Principle 6: Keep Lean

Keep Lean

Surprise projects with short deadlines are common in today’s world of work. For instance, my colleague Sam recently needed a press release, a task he had never undertaken before. He turned to his favorite “get it done quick” resource— Upwork.


This on-demand provider of freelancers boosts 12 million workers, matching them to projects like Sam’s. It took him just a few minutes to post his need by answering a handful of questions and checking a few boxes. Later that day,  freelancers had applied, one of whom Sam selected for the job.


Managing a platform of millions of people who do $1 billion in work for five million customers is no small task. Upwork has had to keep lean as it’s grown big, avoiding wasted time or effort. Their team has to serve customers, implement new ideas, and fix problems while maintaining a speedy and accurate matchmaking service.


Keeping an on-demand system lean is essential to meeting the shifting demands of customers. Technology must reduce effort. Time has to be spent wisely. Resources need to be conserved.


Maintaining the system requires constant attention, with a focus on finding and eliminating wasted time, resources, and effort. Fast delivery of products to people or people for jobs only happens when your lean and efficient system can make that happen.


Principle 7: Stay the Course

For an on-demand plan to work, that plan needs to be followed. Sometimes, doing so is easier said than done. After all, the economy ebbs and flows, markets change, and employees come and go. There’s a lot to attend to, and some of it is unpredictable.


All of the companies highlighted in these principles, however, have achieved success because they’ve stayed the course. They may adjust plans or improve their process, yet they know that consistent action is a requirement for delivering quality products and services with speed and accuracy.


Fast Hiring isn’t a one-time event; it’s a commitment to a process. Your organization will need to plan, implement, and sustain a faster Hiring process, and then stay the course. This will also require consistent execution and continuous improvement, keeping the endgame—being able to hire top talent in an instant—always top of mind.


The Principles in Action


Filling 300 jobs can be a challenge. Filling 300 jobs when you can guarantee only a few months’ works would make it much harder. Doing so in five weeks could seem impossible.


With the end-goal and timeline set, Houwen and his team had to develop a faster approach. They implemented an on-demand process that allowed them to review hundreds of candidates a day.


These candidates were initially sourced from numerous resources, including job boards and referrals.


To keep the process fast and lean, they quickly narrowed these resources to those that were generating the best candidates. Interviews were also quick and efficient; recruiters were able to swiftly assess who fit their rigorous standards and who did not. The Hiring team rapidly gained momentum, allowing them to build and expand capacity quickly.


Push-Button Hiring

Push-Button Recruiting

When a job opens, wouldn’t it be nice if you had a button, like Amazon’s Dash, which once pushed would fill your job in an instant? There may not be a button, but there’s a process—one that incorporates all seven principles of an on-demand system. It’s called the Talent Accelerator Process (TAP).


Talent Accelerator Process is the engine that propels High-Velocity Hiring. By design, it allows your company to fill one job or many roles in an instant.


Quality and speed are incorporated into every step, ensuring you can quickly and accurately select the best people. Talent Accelerator Process lets you build capacity at your pace and expand its use as you see fit.


While the process is inherently lean, methods are provided to help you keep it fast and efficient. Staying the course simply requires maintaining a healthy flow of quality candidates. Talent Accelerator Process is the practical application of the new way of Hiring: Actively cultivating top talent and then waiting for the right job to open.


The operative word in High-Velocity Hiring is flow. The Talent Accelerator Process enriches the flow of candidates by drawing in more people with the correct qualifications. Harnessing this flow leverages human perception during interviews, providing proof that someone is, or is not the correct fit.


Creating a pool of ready-to-hire, prospective employees sustain the flow, enabling your company to hire on-demand. The next six blogs will walk you through each step of the Talent Accelerator Process, providing all of the details you need to engage in High-Velocity Hiring.


Starting at the end is the most important of the principles of an on-demand system. That’s why our next blog focuses on Hiring profiles. You must know who is a good fit if you’re going to find and select the right people.


Unfortunately, many leaders avoid creating or using Hiring profiles, finding them time-consuming to create. Not so with Hire-Right Profiles. By the end of the next blog, you’ll be ready to write your first one in 20 minutes or less.


Action List for Talent Accelerator Process

The following steps will help you plan your implementation of the Talent Accelerator Process.

Action List for Talent Accelerator Process

Address Fears of Fast Hiring

Now’s a good time to share your interest in speeding up your Hiring process. As you do, you may find resistance, even fear, among people in your company. This is normal. Going faster can seem unsafe, even dangerous.


Take, for instance, a new roller coaster at an amusement park—one that sets a new record for speed. Some people need to watch others safely riding it first before they’ll give it a try.


Having a discussion about the on-demand economy may help your colleagues see the benefits and safety of speed. For example, you could ask people to make a list of products and services that are available now on-demand.


These could include banking, office supplies, software, travel, and food. Discuss how long it used to take to acquire or use each one.


Ask for opinions on how companies were able to speed up their processes without sacrificing quality. Review how those process ideas could be used at your company to create an on-demand system for Hiring.


Make Important Decisions Now

Several important decisions need to be made before you implement the Talent Accelerator Process (TAP). To do so, answer the following questions:


1. Will you use Talent Accelerator Process to fill one, several, or many jobs in an instant?

It may be tempting to respond “several” or “many.” However, that answer may not be what your company needs. The impact of a job remaining unfilled is greater for some roles than others. Before answering this question, it’s useful to group jobs into three categories:


a) Core Roles: An open seat creates an immediate and significant negative impact. The nature or amount of work in this role makes it hard to delegate. Filling the job, because of market demand, tends to be difficult.


b) Essential Roles: A job opening has a negative impact, but is less severe than a core role. The nature or amount of work isn’t as hard to delegate but is still vital to the company. Filling an essential role is challenging, but tends to take no more than a few weeks.


c) Supportive Roles: Supportive jobs are important; however, openings for these roles have less impact when compared to the core and essential jobs. Work is easier to delegate or cover while a replacement is found. Finding qualified candidates to interview for these roles usually takes a matter of days.


Once you categorize your jobs, you’ll have a clearer picture of how to prioritize which ones you’ll initially fill using Talent Accelerator Process.


2. Which aspects of our Hiring process already provide us with a quick, high-quality result?

 Review action that list, adding any specific current methods you may have missed that are already lean and effective. As you incorporate Talent Accelerator Process, you’ll have the opportunity to incorporate those into the process.


3. Are there scheduling conflicts or competing demands in the coming months?

Identify important dates and initiatives over the next three to six months. As you plan your implementation of Talent Accelerator Process, you’ll want to carefully manage your time and resources to avoid unnecessarily overtaxing people and systems.


Conduct Experiential Interviews

Conduct Experiential Interviews

Employ Better Selection Methods to Improve Precision and Speed


Conventional interviews don’t work. Why? A job candidate is always on his best behavior. He tells you the right things and shares only the best parts of his background. Rather than painting a complete picture, a conventional interview narrows the lens, providing you with a mere glimpse of a person.


This is why we’re often disappointed when the person we interviewed is not the one who shows up on Monday morning.


The problem with conventional interviews doesn’t stop there. During the interview, you’re selling the prospective hire on your company and culture. But no matter how many rounds in the process, conventional interviews don’t provide an accurate reflection of what it’s like to work at your company each day.


For an interview to be effective, it can’t be conceptual. Interviewing should be a reality check—a real and efficient experience that allows you and the candidate to make an informed decision. A decision based on facts. When armed with facts, each of us is capable of decisive action.


The Interview Experiment

My interviews weren’t always focused and fast. Like many people, I was told I should be slow to hire and quick to fire. My mentors in the late 1980s modeled long interviews packed with questions.


Candidates making it out of round one went through more of the same in round two, with a third round added for really important hires. All in an effort to get Hiring right the first time.


Problem was, this slow approach was doing more harm than good. Work was piling up and good candidates were being lost to competitors. When hires were made, some worked out; many did not. Those that failed on the job had excelled during interviews.


Our process was a crapshoot. Multiple rounds of exhaustive interviews were ending up with mixed results and exhausted managers. Less than half of the people hired lasted more than a year.


Experiential Interviews

Experiential Interviews

I spent two years designing and testing “experiential,” or hands-on, interviewing. These interviews had to accomplish two things. First, they needed to determine if a candidate could do quality work. Second, they needed to show whether or not the candidate could work well with others.


I was picky about whom I’d meet, only interviewing someone if they matched the Hire-Right Profile. During an initial phone interview, I reviewed their abilities, communication skills, and personality-fit for our culture. A brief conversation determined who was worth bringing in for a hands-on interview.


The hands-on interview was divided into two parts. The first part was focused on having the candidate do sample work. Computer programmers were given specs, so they could write computer code.


Accounting candidates analyzed the financials. Marketing staffers designed a promotional campaign. Recruiters were provided sample jobs to fill. For each type of role, I developed tasks to be done based on real workplace situations.


During the second part, each candidate was joined by members of our staff. This gave me the opportunity to watch how they interacted with potential coworkers. I gave them a problem to solve or a question to answer as a team. Programmers had to work together to debug code that was crashing a system.


Accounting candidates had to work with several members from the accounting department to trace errors in financial reports. Marketers participated in a brainstorming session on a marketing campaign. Recruiters had to collaborate with a Hiring manager to plan the Hiring process.


While all of this was happening, I was an observer. Joining me were several other leaders, each with a different Hiring style. We quietly made notes of what we experienced.


Debriefs after each hands-on interview allowed us to compare notes about how people matched up to our Hire-Right Profile. Reference checks were then used to affirm that the candidate had all of the Dealmakers and none of the Dealbreakers.


The results were groundbreaking. Interviews were shorter and more effective. We could see proof of whether or not candidates were good fits for a role and experience how they’d fit in. Our hands-on interview showed us how a candidate worked and interacted.


The leaders who had doubts about this new way of interviewing quickly bought in. As one put it, “Seeing is believing. Interviews have always seemed like a form of gambling. Sometimes I got lucky. Others times I did not. Being able to see someone in action makes this new form of interviewing far more accurate.”


Initially, I was concerned about how candidates would be affected by having observers in the room. Would these people be a distraction? No. Candidates told us that after ten minutes they forgot the observers were there. The work kept their attention, allowing them to tune out the others.


Even the candidates themselves gave this new type of interview a thumbs-up. They got to experience the job and the team. Also, they liked how quickly they could determine whether the job was what they were looking for.


One of my biggest surprises was how experiential interviews engaged passive candidates (people not actively seeking a new job). Many passive candidates had previously balked at participating in a conventional interview.


That was not the case when we allowed these candidates to “try out” a job. Passive candidates not only chose to participate but often asked to join our company as soon as we could hire them.


After two years, the process was perfected. Hiring was a four-stage process: reviewing candidate documents, conducting brief phone interviews, one in-person hands-on interview, and reference checks.


It no longer took weeks to hire one person. Now we could do it in a matter of hours. Most important, our new-hire success rate skyrocketed. Ninety-five percent of our new hires stayed for at least a year.


The Four Stages of Experiential Interviews

Experiential Interviews

Stage 1: Compare the Candidate’s Written Materials to Your Hire-Right Profile

You’ll compare each candidate to your Hire-Right Profile. To do this, you’ll use resumes or job applications plus, if needed, a few written questions. A candidate who has enough of the required skills, experience and education listed under Dealmakers moves to Stage 2.


Stage 2: Conduct a Brief Phone Interview

A 20-minute (or less) phone conversation, for most roles, allows you to hear how the candidate communicates as you review their background and discuss the job.


Also, this provides an opportunity to discover how their values, helpful behaviors, and personality features may or may not fit your company culture. If they match additional Dealmakers and have none of the Dealbreakers, they move to Stage 3.


Stage 3: Hold an In-Person Hands-On Interview

Here, you’ll have the candidate do sample work (both on their own and with others). The Hiring team, comprised of the four Hiring styles, observes silently. They “check off” any Dealmakers, Dealbreakers, Boosts, and Blocks.


If they determine that the candidate has none of the Dealbreakers and most, if not all, of the Dealmakers, the candidate moves to Stage 4.


Stage 4: Complete Reference Checks

Reference checks (and background checks, if required for the role) are used to affirm that the candidate has all of the Dealmakers, none of the Dealbreakers, and few, if any, Blocks. If they pass this last stage, they’re offered a job immediately or the next time a seat opens.


A few additional notes:

additional notes

In Stage 3, I recommended that your candidate demonstrate their abilities by performing sample work. You also have the option to have them do real work; if you do so, however, you’ll have to pay them and comply with labor laws. These working interviews pay the going rate for doing key aspects of the job.


For example, a southeastern U.S. hospital asks nursing candidates who reach Stage 3 to work with patients directly. According to the hospital administrator, this has allowed the hospital to attract better nurses, who end up as long-term employees.


“When we first floated this idea, our legal and risk management teams thought we were crazy,” the administrator said. “However, they got on board when we helped them understand that seeing a candidate in action actually lowered our risk.


As a result, we now fill open jobs in less than an hour, and our patient outcome measures have improved significantly.”


Candidates who don’t make it through the process are, whenever possible, referred to other employers. This goodwill gesture pays dividends, generating positive word-of-mouth advertising for your company.


The Flexibility of Experiential Interviews

Experiential interviews can be used for any type of role, yet the four stages remain the same. Each stage determines whether a candidate is a fit. How do you apply experiential interviews to different industries and roles? Consider the following three examples.


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A midwestern U.S. manufacturer had ongoing problems in Hiring machinists and welders. The company tried attracting candidates by improving its compensation plan.


However, new hires didn’t stay long when another organization offered them more money. To remedy this problem, the manufacturer implemented experiential interviewing.


In Stage 1, the manufacturer asked each candidate to email them a resume and submit an answer to the following question: “Under what circumstances would you consider changing jobs?”


The answer, along with the resume, allowed company leaders to see if a candidate had both the correct skills and mindset.


They were looking for candidates with transferable experience and motives that went beyond money, such as opportunities for career advancement or ongoing skill development.


Candidates who reached Stage 2 were interviewed by a company machinist or welder over the phone. These conversations, lasting 15 to 20 minutes, covered a lot of ground. The interviewers gained insights into a candidate’s skills, behaviors, and personality.


If a candidate had any of the Dealbreakers, Stage 2 is where they invariably showed up. When there were Dealbreakers, they’d end the process with that candidate.


Stage 3 was a joint hands-on interview: Two candidates were brought in simultaneously. They were given a single problem to solve together, such as fixing parts that been machined incorrectly.


The interviewers watched how the pair interacted, noting how the candidates applied their skills, worked together, and solved the problem.


In Stage 4, the manufacturer checked references for candidates who passed Stage 3. As simple as this stage sounds, reference checks had always been a struggle. The reason: Previous employers would only confirm the most basic information, such as the individual’s dates of employment.


For more meaningful detail, the manufacturer contacted the candidate’s former coworkers. These former colleagues were asked about the candidate, especially for experiences involving important Dealmakers and Dealbreakers.


Their answers enabled Hiring managers to gather the last bits of evidence needed for a fully informed Hiring decision.


The experiential interviewing methodology eliminated candidates motivated by money alone. It also made it easier to attract passive candidates. In under a year, the company went from too few candidates to a surplus ready to accept a job the moment one opened.


This success prompted the manufacturer to expand its use of experiential interviews in Hiring engineers and managers.




A global recruitment firm struggled for years in Hiring executives. Four of the previous six executives lasted less than a year. These failed hires fit a pattern: Their leadership style was excessively authoritarian.


Rather than collaborating, they made demands and gave orders. Two of the four were also caught lying. Ending this pattern of poor hires became the recruitment firm’s top priority.


They began by creating Hire-Right Profiles that addressed the specific issues, adding Dealmakers, such as a collaborative leadership style, and Dealbreakers, such as lack of integrity.


During their next round of Hiring, they experimented with experiential interviewing. In Stage 1, candidates were asked to provide a resume and answer written questions that delved into their leadership styles.


Those who qualified for Stage 2 met by phone with several members of the Hiring team. In addition to reviewing their background, the phone interview was used to discuss the pros and cons of collaboration.


The third stage was a hands-on strategy session with the candidate’s prospective team of direct reports. The candidate was given full control of this meeting.


If she wanted to ask questions of the team or assign prep work before the session, she did. She set the agenda and ran the meeting. It was her show. How she led and what they accomplished were reviewed by the Hiring team, some of whom were part of the exercise.


Reference checks rounded out the fourth stage of the process, confirming she met all of the required criteria, especially integrity. Reference checks included people at different seniority levels at the candidate’s previous employers.


Each individual was asked for details of things they experienced, especially as they related to issues around integrity. Three potentially bad hires were averted as a result of details uncovered during this final stage.


Since the implementation of experiential interviewing, the company has hired four executives, all of whom are still with the organization. The company’s board has deemed these individuals the “best hires ever made” as a result of the work each has accomplished so far.


Customer Support

Customer Support

A Pacific Rim software company took months to hire a single customer service manager.


One of the reasons why had to do with the customer service manager’s daily work. Since helping customers took time, the software company felt a lengthy Hiring process helpfully tested their candidates’ patience.


Was this assumption correct? Did a drawn-out Hiring process lead to successful hires? No. Less than 10 percent remained with the company for more than two years.


Many of these hires, who were tenured and successful support professionals, weren’t coachable. They’d progress only as far as their current abilities took them. They’d get stuck, hitting a performance level below what was expected.


The software company replaced its drawn-out process with experiential interviewing. Hire-Right Profiles were created, adding “being coachable” as a Dealmaker.


Telephone interviews zeroed in on examples of coachability. For instance, candidates were asked to share how they applied lessons learned from mistakes made in their current job.


The hands-on interview simulated some of the most challenging parts of the customer support job. Company employees played the role of “customer.” The task of the candidate was to solve the “problem” being presented by this customer.


Halfway through the hands-on interview, the senior vice president of customer relations would pause the process and provide feedback to the candidate. Then, the hands-on interview would resume.


Observers met afterward to review their experience and discuss how coachable the candidate was during the interview. If candidates matched all of the Dealmakers, they moved to the final stage. References were used to affirm that he fully matched the entire Hire-Right




Candidates who passed all four stages were offered a job immediately if one was open, or as soon as one became available. Those hired became exceptional employees.


They ramped up quickly and broke company records. Tenure for all but a few progressed well beyond the two-year mark. Best of all, all four stages of the process took under one week to complete.


Launching Questions

We all love to hear ourselves talk, and we appreciate when others listen to us. In interviews, we can use this to our advantage by asking better questions.


What makes a question better? When it’s easily understood. Too often, our questions are confusing. We use too many words, overwhelming the listener.

Launching Questions

There’s a science to asking great questions. Questions posed in the right manner are easily understood, allowing listeners to think carefully about their answers. You can actually see this happen.


When people are asked compelling questions, they pause, think, and then respond. Their response is thorough, accurate, and satisfying for everyone in the conversation.


The most effective manner of querying candidates is using “launching” questions. These provocative, open-ended questions are 12 words or less. Their brevity ensures that they are immediately understood, launching people into giving detailed answers.


Launching questions create conversational quid pro quo: The questioner wants to understand, and the respondent gets to be heard. Every response can be turned into a new launching question, allowing you to develop an even deeper understanding of your candidate.


What do launching questions look like? Here are three such questions often used during a Stage 2 telephone interview:

“Why us?”

Motives are important. Knowing if your candidate is inspired by your company’s mission or just needs a job will help you pick the best people.


“Why now?”

Why now

When a candidate is actively searching for a job, knowing what’s driving that decision is important. Is the candidate desperate to make a change, ready to leap at the first offer?


Or, is she happy and simply open to a new opportunity that could make life even better? Knowing what’s driving someone’s behavior is vital in choosing the right people for your company.


“What job suits you best?”

best job

Too often, interviewers ask candidates about their perfect job. Such a question sets up the candidate and the employer for failure since jobs and companies are rarely perfect. Instead of asking about perfection, ask about personal fit.


Launching questions are particularly important when you speak with passive candidates. Since these individuals aren’t actively looking for work, engaging them in a meaningful conversation can be a challenge.


Not so when using launching questions. For example, when someone says they aren’t looking for a job, you could ask, “Under what circumstances would you consider something new?”


If someone says they’re happy in their current role, you could pose, “What would make you happier?” Both examples engage people in a conversation about possibilities. Launching questions should be used in all of your interviews. You’ll see examples of launching questions in this and other blogs.


Creating Your Experiential Interviews

Experiential Interviews

How do you carry out an effective experiential interview? I’ll walk you through the details.


Stage 1: Compare the Candidate’s Written Materials to Your Hire-Right Profile

With your Hire-Right Profile in hand, you’ll review a candidate’s background. You’ll look at their resume or job application. Also, you may choose to have them submit answers to written questions.


It’s important to remember that resumes and job applications are summaries. It’s rare that these summaries will allow you to determine whether someone matches your entire Hire-Right Profile.


Instead, you’ll select Dealmakers and Dealbreakers to help you determine who moves to Stage 2. How many Dealmakers and Dealbreakers are enough? You’ll likely find that picking a few of each will suffice.


As an example, let’s look at how one company assessed candidates for a sales role. To pass Stage 1, the Hiring team chose two Dealmakers and two Dealbreakers from the Hire-Right Profile:

  • Dealmakers
  • Healthy overachiever, demonstrated by exceeding expectations consistently
  • Follows directions
  • Dealbreakers
  • Sells price instead of value
  • Misses deadlines regularly
  • The company had candidates submit resumes. These candidates were also given a deadline to answer these questions:
  • “Why do you fit this job? Please keep your answer to a few sentences.”
  • “How do you sell? Be specific, but limit your response to two or three paragraphs.”
  • “In your most recent role, what expectations were you asked to meet? How consistently did you meet those? What specific steps did you take?”


Candidates who failed to meet the deadline and follow directions were dropped. Those whose resumes and written answers passed the Dealmakers-and-Dealbreakers test moved on to Stage 2.


Stage 2: Conduct a Brief Phone Interview

Phone Interview

Your Stage 2 phone interview should focus on whether a candidate meets your company’s needs and culture. You’ll also notice how the candidate speaks and listens, and you’ll get a sense of their personality. Your questions should lead them to discuss topics important to your Hire-Right Profile.


One member of your Hiring team should take the lead on the call. Other team members can listen in, helping to counteract Hiring blindness. For staff level roles, a well-planned phone interview should take no more than 20 minutes. For executive jobs, plan on spending a maximum of 30 to 40 minutes.


Stage 3: Hold an In-Person Hands-On Interview

In Stage 3, you’ll want to watch the candidate do the type of work they’d be doing if hired. This can be a realistic simulation or work-for-compensation. During part of the hands-on interview, have the candidate work with others, such as one or more of the following: Potential colleagues, members of your Hiring team, other job candidates.


Pick aspects that prove the candidate can do quality work. How do you choose? Have them demonstrate important skills. Role-play difficult conversations. Present them with problems they’ll need to solve.


An effective hands-on interview in Stage 3 can take as little as 60 minutes for staff positions. For senior and executive level roles, plan on up to two and a half hours.


Stage 4: Complete Reference Checks

Experiential interviewing is real, not conceptual. As a result, you’ll often find you’ve verified every detail on a Hire-Right Profile by the end of Stage 3. If so, you may be ready to hire the candidate now or the moment you have an open seat.


In other cases, there may be one or more Dealmakers or Dealbreakers that remain unconfirmed. Regardless of which situation you find yourself in, it’s worth the investment to spend a few minutes on Stage 4. When you do, you’ll increase your new-hire success rate by at least 20 percent.


There are three keys to success when conducting reference checks:


1. Seek proof: Whether you’re questioning a reference giver about a candidate’s Dealmaker or Dealbreaker, ask for proof. Don’t stop at generalizations. Ask for a specific example.


2. Request that reference givers provide additional contacts: Smart candidates aren’t likely to connect us with people who are going to say negative things. Ask each reference giver for the names of people who worked with the candidate. Contact these people, asking them for the proof you seek.


3. Obtain at least one peer reference: References are traditionally conducted with managers. Yet, managers usually spend limited time with their employees day-to-day.


Managers may also be restricted by company policy as to what they can share. Peers, on the other hand, spend more time with prospective hires and may not be confined by the same rules.


Always Interviewing, Occasionally Hiring

Always Interviewing

Hiring faster-made sense to Troy and Claudia. They co-led a department in a pharmaceutical company that always had open seats.


Both agreed they needed better Hiring profiles and stronger candidate gravity, and that Hiring teams would help counter Hiring blindness. We worked together, in collaboration with their talent acquisition team, to improve these three parts of their process.


Agreeing on how to interview—that was a different matter. Claudia hated conventional interviews and felt they were the cause for the department’s failed hires. Troy, on the other hand, loved their process.


Two phone interviews were followed by three separate face-to-face meetings. “We’ve crafted a great process. It includes behavioral interviewing and a ‘Topgrading’ assessment to spot top talent,” he said. “I’m not willing to give up on a process that isn’t broken. Our interviews work just fine.”


There was no convincing Troy to give experiential interviewing a try, even after Claudia “whiteboard” their poor Hiring statistics. “Half our good candidates drop out of our long Hiring process,” said Claudia.


“And, we’re not meeting our MBOs (management by objectives) for employee turnover this year. By any measure, our interviewing process isn’t just broken. It’s beyond repair.”


I’d been forewarned by their boss that Troy and Claudia were competitive. Hiring competition seemed like the right tool to help these two get unstuck from the status quo. Troy continued interviewing the old way; Claudia and I worked together to design and implement experiential interviewing.


The rules of the contest were simple: Whoever filled the most jobs won. New hires had to pass their 90-day probationary period in order to count toward their Hiring totals.


Who won? Claudia. It was a landslide. She hired four times as many people like Troy. He was stunned. “I figured she’d end up interviewing more people than I did,” he said. “But I thought I’d win in the end by making more quality hires.


Many of the people she added to the team have ended up being better employees than those I brought on board. With less effort, she made more hires.”


The Hiring contest had an added benefit: It filled all of the department’s open seats. Claudia and Troy joined forces and began cultivating talent before it was needed by always interviewing and occasionally Hiring.


They generated an ongoing flow of candidates, inviting those that looked like a fit for interviews. In a short time, they built an inventory of people who were ready to join the company when a job opened.


Action List for This Process

To implement experiential interviewing, take the following actions.


Rally Your Hiring Team

 Recruiting Team

If you’ve not yet pulled together your Hiring team, now’s the time. Already have a Hiring team? Set aside time in the coming days to plan how you’ll conduct your first experiential interview.


Handle Resistance

You may find that some of your colleagues are hesitant to adopt experiential interviews. That’s not uncommon, especially when they’ve been conducting conventional interviews for years.


Suggest a short-term experiment to give experiential interviewing a try. Perhaps, they’d be open to healthy competition, as in the story of Troy and Claudia.


Create Your Plan

Create Your Plan

Discuss with your team who will coordinate interview scheduling and communications. Decide on who’ll be present at each stage, including who’ll facilitate meetings.


Be sure to schedule time after each stage to conduct an immediate debrief while candidate details are top of mind. Leverage the expertise of HR or the talent acquisition department as you structure each part of your plan.


Create Launching Questions

Having questions ready ahead of time will allow you to remain fully present during interviews and reference checks. Work with your Hiring team to create a handful of initial questions for each stage.


Practice First

Conduct a trial run. You’ll be better prepared and more present for the real thing. Preparation also creates a better experience for the candidate, making your company more attractive.


Require Leaders to Always Interview, Occasionally Hire Fast and accurate Hiring is a strategic imperative. A top-down mandate that all Hiring managers are always interviewing, occasionally Hiring will ensure your company can fill open jobs in an instant.


Create a Pool of People Ready to Hire



Imagine a warehouse stocked with talented people. When you need an administrative assistant, a controller, or a COO, you pick one from the right shelf. They immediately get to work, keeping business moving along.


A people-as-products approach bears a conceptual resemblance to the methods used by retail establishments. Stores plan for demand, stockpile products, manage sales and refresh their inventories to keep them from becoming depleted.


Stockpiling the talent your company will need is easier than running a store. There are no buildings to erect or expensive inventories to maintain. You won’t have to fabricate a product or manage a complex delivery system.


Creating a Talent Inventory is a straightforward proposition: You line up people who are ready to hire the moment they’re needed.


The Inventory Advantage

Inventory Advantage

A ready-to-hire inventory of prospective employees—a Talent Inventory— also provides benefits to everyone involved. Your company has people ready to hire when they’re needed. You’re able to focus on doing work instead of being distracted by empty seats. Prospective employees get to line up a better job.


Talent Inventories also provide a strategic benefit. Quality employees are necessary to implement your strategies and serve customers. Organizations without enough talented people are limited in how quickly they can innovate and grow.


That’s why CEOs are frequently the most fervent advocates of lining up future hires before they’re required.


It’s been said that knowledge is power. In business, real power is about people. Becoming and remaining a competitive local company, dominant national player, or global powerhouse requires that you constantly have enough people doing quality work. Talent Inventories ensure your organization will have those people when needed.


The Impact of a Talent Inventory

Talent Inventory

Your Talent Inventory consists of a roster of people ready to be hired. During experiential interviews, you and each person in your inventory have gotten to know one another.


You’ve met them, they’ve met you and your team, and they’ve experienced the kind of work they’d do each day. There’s mutual attraction—everyone would benefit from working together.


When a job opens, you offer them the role. If they accept, that job is filled. In cases where they don’t, you offer it to the next candidate in your inventory. Just like retailers keep shelves stocked to meet buyer needs, you’ll maintain at least several prospective employees in your Talent Inventory at all times.


Maintaining an adequate inventory is a cornerstone of High-Velocity Hiring, and why the first four steps of the process are vital. Well-crafted Hiring profiles clarify who fits a job and guide you in where to find candidates.


A continuous flow of candidates provides talented people for you to interview. Your Hiring team is always interviewing and occasionally Hiring, keeping your Talent Inventory well stocked and ready to go.


Sounds (relatively) simple, right? It is. And it also gives your company a better return on the effort invested in Hiring.


The efficiency of the employee selection process can be measured. One way is to look at your return on Hiring (ROR). ROR measures how many hires result from your efforts. You’ll likely find that maintaining a Talent Inventory at least doubles the number of quality hires made from the time you invest.


Because of the impact and flexibility of Talent Inventories, they’re used in companies of all sizes. How these inventories are built varies, depending on a company’s structure and Hiring needs.


If you’re a manager in a small company, your Talent Inventory will probably be maintained by you. Such an inventory may only center around one or two core roles. An HR manager or office administrator can help you maintain a strong flow of candidates, as well as participate in some of the interviewing stages.


Each month, you’ll spend a handful of hours making sure you consistently have a few people ready to hire.


If you work in a mid-sized organization, your Talent Inventory will be managed by you and HR. It will likely include all your core roles. The HR team will actively recruit candidates, using all of the eight talent streams. You’ll be asked for help with at least two of the talent streams: networking and referrals.


HR will help coordinate experiential interviews and may be part of your Hiring team. A few times a month, you’ll interview candidates to keep your prospective employee roster active.


Large corporations build Talent Inventories beyond their core roles. If you’re a leader in one of these organizations, you’ll have helped throughout the Hiring process from your HR department or talent acquisition team.


They’ll sustain the flow of talent, asking for your ongoing help with referrals. They may play an active role in each step of experiential interviews and are likely to share a role in keeping your Talent Inventory candidates interested in your company.


You’ll meet new candidates monthly, but this will take a fraction of the time compared to the old way of Hiring.


Regardless of company size or business type, your Talent Inventory keeps seats filled. If you’re like most leaders engaged in the new way of Hiring, you’ll have less stress, easier workdays, and a more satisfying career.


You may even sleep better at night, knowing you have enough people to get work done, with others waiting in the wings.


Accidental Instantaneous Hiring

Accidental Instantaneous Recruiting

Change is inevitable, driving the need for new business practices and innovations. For New York HR executive, Beth Steve, one thing that hasn’t changed for the past 15 years is her use of a Talent Inventory.


Steve’s career has included stints at a global human capital management company and a boutique luxury residential services firm. She’s found that regardless of her employer’s focus or size, a Talent Inventory has been indispensable in filling jobs quickly.


When I first shared how a Talent Inventory would allow her to fill jobs in an instant, she embraced the concept immediately. “I love having people ready to go,” she said. “We always need good candidates and never have enough.”


Doubt then clouded her face: “I’m not sure that’s possible, though. We can’t manufacture people. We certainly can’t store them in a warehouse—that’s called kidnapping!”


She only saw the validity of this approach when I pointed out her team had already done instantaneous Hiring, albeit accidentally. “You’re right,” she said. “We’ve filled jobs immediately when we happened to be talking with good candidates.


We’ve got to line up more of these good candidates before we need them. What we’re missing is a process to make this happenstance a regular occurrence.”


Together, we implemented the Talent Accelerator Process. The Hiring team leveraged each talent stream. Recruiters managed the first few steps of the interviewing process, passing on qualified candidates to Hiring managers for a hands-on interview.


Where there was an open job, hires were made immediately. The remaining candidates became part of a talent-packed “storehouse” of people ready to hire. Steve’s team shouldered the responsibility for keeping the people in the Talent Inventory engaged until the company could hire them.


Whereas Hiring used to take weeks, it quickly dropped to days. Both white-and blue-collar jobs at company sites around the city were filled by high-quality people faster than ever. Before long, many roles were filled the same day, achieving “zero-to-fill,” reducing the time it takes to hire to zero.


Building Your Talent Inventory

Talent Inventory

The first four steps of the Talent Accelerator Process feed your Talent Inventory. The profile you created (Step 1) defines who fits your job and guides you in improving the flow of talent (Step 2). Your Hiring team works together to counter


Hiring blindness (Step 3), conducting interviews (Step 4) to determine if a candidate meets the needs of your company. Candidates that fit are hired immediately or added to your inventory.


I suggested grouping your jobs into these three categories: Core roles, essential roles, and supportive roles.


Core Roles

An open seat creates an immediate and significant negative impact. The nature or amount of work in this role makes it hard to delegate. Filling the job, because of market demand, tends to be difficult.


Essential Roles


A job opening has a negative impact but is less severe than a core role. The nature or amount of work isn’t as hard to delegate but is still vital to the company. Filling an essential role is challenging, but tends to take no more than a few weeks.


Supportive Roles

Supportive jobs are important; however, openings for these roles have less impact when compared to the core and essential jobs. Work is easier to delegate or cover while a replacement is found. Finding qualified candidates to interview for these roles usually takes a matter of days.


Now that you know more about the Talent Accelerator Process, you may want to change which roles fall under each category. For example, you originally could’ve thought that the role of the supervisor was an essential role. Now, you realize that staff can temporarily cover that job for a short time. You move that role to the supportive category.


Once you’ve categorized your positions, pick a core role. This could be a job for which you currently have no openings or a position with open seats that need filling.


If you elect a job with open seats, you’ll initially use the Talent Accelerator Process to fill that job. Then, you’ll harness your flow of candidates to build a storehouse of people.


Creating a Talent Inventory for a role happens in three phases

Creating a Talent Inventory

Phase 1: Build

You’ll fill your Talent Inventory with candidates you’d like to hire. You’ll identify these candidates through experiential interviews.


Phase 2: Maintain

How many candidates will you keep on hand? At least two. Usually more. Because you’re always interviewing, it’s likely that you’ll have several candidates to select from at any one time. Managing your relationship with each person will keep some candidates actively available for months.


Phase 3: Fill

When a job opens, you offer it to the person most qualified. If for any reason, they decline the offer, you reach out to the next best available candidate. Sustaining ongoing interviews refills your Hiring pool, ensuring you have people to choose from.


If you want to build a Talent Inventory for additional roles, do so carefully. It’s best to wait until you’ve reached the “Fill” phase before expanding further. As you add roles, you’ll likely need help in managing this efficiently.


Your Hiring team, an assistant, and employees who report to you, along with your HR or talent acquisition department, can help you maintain your Talent Inventory.


Your goal will forever be the same—being able to hire a talented person the moment a job opens. Your Talent Inventory provides you with a pool of ready-to-hire prospective employees, as long as you do your part in keeping it stocked.