Recruiting Talent: Reviewing Hiring Processes in a Job-seeker’s Market

Hiring audits. Employee surveys. Needs assessments. Recruitment reviews. While the names may vary, these terms all essentially speak to an essential and fundamental aspect of an organization’s sustained viability: the regular evaluation of how one’s team finds and selects top talent.

As organizations uncover strengths and weaknesses associated with this vital function, Machael Durham, president of Durham Staffing Solutions, referred to steps not limited to the creation of a recruitment audit team spanning recruiters, hiring managers and interviewers. 

“Evaluate the internal recruitment process, analyze the various channels utilized to measure effectiveness, and obtain feedback from candidates to understand their experience,” Durham said.  

She recommended evaluating the “metrics” quarterly to ensure an effective process.

“It is best to be open and transparent with all applicants from the start,” she added, when asked about “best practices” associated with these quarter-on-quarter evaluations. “Ensure you are clear about the qualifications needed to be successful in the role, share the organization’s core values and mission, focus on the quality of the candidate and create a process that is inviting for all.”

Be aware of and identify “pain points,” but don’t make assumptions, Durham said.

“Ask the right open-ended questions and actively listen,” she explained. “Once you are able to identify the pain points, be open to change that will benefit all.”

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Ralph Kellogg, VP of people and training and HRAM DEI/IDEAL co-chair of Lutheran Family Services, defined the ideal hiring process audit as gathering feedback from newly-hired employees, and as the HR team looking for failures within the process. 

“Where and how is the organization recruiting, what are the yield rates from recruiting sources, and what process or procedures are in place that help or hinder the application and hiring experience,” he said. “Newly hired employees provide a wealth of information about the hiring process.

“At LFS, we have three key surveys that are used during the employee’s first month of employment: the application process, the interviewing and hiring process and new hire orientation. The feedback from these surveys, as well as follow-up conversations, provide a basis for transparent discussions to occur.”

Furthermore, when one says, “We want this information. So, we can continually improve our service,” it empowers and connects. Kellogg also added that one should ask questions like, “Was the application easy to navigate? What did you find confusing?” And, most important: “What did you like about the process?”

“LFS has used feedback from these tools to overhaul the new hire onboarding process, revamp interview questions, improve hiring times and implement cross-departmental hiring opportunities, whereby an applicant may not be a fit for the job for which they applied, but they may be a fit for another open position within the organization,” he said.

These efforts are bearing fruit; LFS reported a response rate of over 90% over the past two years from new employees on the application, interviewing and orientations processes.

At minimum, Kellogg encouraged conducting such reviews twice each year. 

“Ideally, the talent acquisition team should conduct this type of review as part of an ongoing process,” he noted. “If organizations fail to implement a feedback loop or take a ‘no news is good news approach,’ then the hiring process turns into a transaction-based event, rather than the foundation for an ongoing relationship.”

As to “best practices,” Kellogg emphasized the importance of clearly communicating how the position aligns with the organization’s strategic goals and success. 

“Provide purpose-driven work,” he said. “Employees want to know the work they do matters and makes a difference. Do not focus only on pay and perks as a competitive advantage – people expect to be paid a competitive salary. Using pay as the only competitive advantage is outdated thinking.”

Furthermore, exhibit both flexibilities in scheduling and in supporting an inclusive and respectful environment. 

“Most employees are realistic enough to know that every work environment will offer its share of challenges; however, providing an environment where mutual respect, and connection with others is valued is what I find most candidates want,” Kellogg said.

To “pain points,” he emphasized how “data tells a story.”

“Time to fill, turnover, employee survey feedback and job board feedback can tell you if issues exist with your hiring process,” Kellogg explained. “Sites like Indeed and Glassdoor can provide insights as to how applicants view the hiring process.

“If you have exceptionally high turnover based on internal benchmarks or industry data, it can be an indicator that the organization may be misaligning the person and the job. Lastly, have conversations with newly-hired employees – I found this to be the best source of unvarnished feedback.”

Goal-Driving Practices

Senior Human Resources Consultant Roxy Kolev of The Olson Group emphasized how many states and cities are rapidly adopting pay transparency legislation, which prohibits asking about past compensation or requiring compensation disclosure to a candidate during the interview process. 

“Experts predict that pay transparency is here to stay and will continue to spread in the future,” she said. “Employers that have locations in these states and even employers in states that have not implemented this legislation, should be thoughtful about asking for current salary and be prepared to discuss the pay range(s) for roles they are recruiting for to avoid legal complications.”

Kolev suggested conducting needs assessments any time prior to posting a position—especially a new one. 

“The needs of the organization may have changed since that position was filled last and the skills and qualifications required might be different,” she said. “Employers tend to be in a hurry to get the position posted and to get the role filled as quickly as possible, but all too often don’t stop to think about what is really needed for the best outcome.”

Additionally, team interviews were described as “very beneficial,” as Kolev said the hiring manager can see how the candidate’s personality fits within the team. 

“And the team feels like they are part of the process of hiring someone that they will be working closely with,” she stated.

Areas for improvement may arise when pinpointing positions that take a long time to fill, or that tend to have few applicants, according to Kolev. 

“In those instances, the postings need to be rewritten or reviewed,” she said. “Positions that have high turnover should be reviewed for job qualification experience needed, and skills. Ensure that candidates are given a realistic job preview (RJP). So, they are clear about the responsibilities and daily duties for the position. Candidates that are not willing to meet those responsibilities will most likely remove themselves from the hiring process, saving the company time and money in onboarding and training.”

Nicolette Villwok, director of human resources at E & A Consulting Group, Inc. also spoke to the importance of ensuring hiring practices are not only effective at getting results but are also in compliance. Specifically, Villwok referred to exploring “job requisition generation,” as well as job postings, sourcing, screening methods, interview processes and onboarding within the confines of relevant law changes. 

“Conducting an audit yearly is a best practice,” she stated. “Most can only review the hiring processes every few years, as many HR teams are small. An alternative time to evaluate processes is when there is a newly created opening.”

Be prepared to talk authentically about one’s culture and identity.

“Candidates have many choices and want to know that their contributions matter,” Villwok said. “As mentioned, publish content and materials to back that up on your website and social media.”

Common pain points within hiring, according to Villwok include response times to new candidates and a lengthy process. 

“Looking at the time it takes to respond to a candidate in the process can be tricky when balancing hiring manager availability and HR team capacity,” she said. “A complex interview process can stifle interest. If you need multiple people to chime in, consider panel interviews or same-day experiences. It is critical to have staff shift priorities if seeking to fill a position, or you may lose the talent.”

Timely Considerations 

Durham Staffing Solutions’ Durham stressed the unique nature of the current low unemployment rate, and limited applicant environment. 

“Employers should be open, transparent, inviting and share success stories each step in the process,” she said. “The candidate engagement experience can make or break an offer acceptance. If the candidate believes their expertise would be valued and they would be appreciated as a team member, they most likely will be excited to join the team. It is all about consistent messaging with honest and open feedback throughout the recruitment, hiring and onboarding process.”

Kellogg of LFS said a delay in interviewing in today’s market could cost an organization a great candidate.

“This information can be found in qualitative feedback from the applicant, and it can also be found in time to fill statistics,” he said. “If HR is providing qualified candidates for consideration, but the department is struggling to fill the role, it could be due to not finding the right candidate. But, it could also be due to the manager not responding in a timely manner to the applicant in either scheduling an interview or providing an offer of employment.”

In today’s job environment, Kellogg noted, managers have to strike while the iron is hot, as candidates will no longer wait for employers to decide or follow up. 

“It is an employee market and there are many options available for job-seekers,” he remarked.

He furthermore underscored the freedom in asking “how” and “why” things are done in particular ways. 

“When looking at processes and procedures with curiosity and giving yourself and team members permission to think in new and creative ways to approach business challenges, you provide the opportunity to explore new ideas, create new partnerships, and move towards a new way of recruiting talent,” Kellogg summed up.

Additionally, do not forget to assess current talent who may be ready for new challenges within the organization.

“Consider recruiting from within or even a lateral move for an employee that is looking for something new,” Kolev said. “Before you have to replace an employee, consider stay interviews. Many organizations conduct exit interviews, but this is already too late. The position is now open and costs the organization time and money to fill.”

Stay interviews allow an organization to find out what is important to the existing employees and their pain points before they decide to leave the organization. 

“Exit interviews are also helpful to find out why employees left the organization and how the organization can be an employer of choice,” she said.

E&A’s Villwok also emphasized looking at information that is supplied to support the posting – ensuring it is attractive and provides a positive candidate experience. 

“For example, candidates have so much data they can review, like social media, career sites and your company website,” she said. “If candidates do not have a positive experience or little information in those materials, they may not apply.”

  Employment Law Update  

Staying current and compliant with labor laws can be tricky to keep up with, especially for small business owners. 

Local employment law experts weighed in on some of the most pertinent trends coming down the pipeline affecting Omaha employers. 

“Small businesses should be mindful of a recent ruling from the National Labor Relations Board regarding the enforceability of severance agreements containing confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses as well as a recent proposal by the Federal Trade Commission that would ban non-compete agreements.” -Eric W. Tiritilli, partner, Lamson Dugan & Murray LLP 


“We’re seeing a shift away from the traditional PTO bank. Many employers are considering a change over from finite PTO to ‘honor-system’ or unlimited PTO. While this policy change can be freeing (no more tracking hours or paying out accrued, unused PTO on termination – sounds great, right?), it can present issues when employees have racked up significant PTO hours under the old policy. We are helping employers navigate the best way to make that cutover without accidentally violating wage and hour law. On top of that, some employers have concerns about pulling the trigger on these policies, and making sure unlimited leave isn’t abused by employees who are suddenly AWOL or jetting off to Cabo for a two-week excursion.  Nine times out of 10, though, it’s the wage and hour liability, not the employee absence piece, that presents the most problems.” -Erin Schroeder, employment attorney, Koley Jessen

“One of the biggest issues for employers to be aware of is the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recent proposal of new regulations that would bar employers from entering into or enforcing non-compete agreements with employees. The proposed rule does not generally apply to non-solicitation provisions, unless those provisions are so broad in scope that they function as a non-competition agreement. Additionally, the proposed regulation would apply to all employers in the United States, regardless of size or number of employees. It would also cover all employees, paid or not, and independent contractors. Employers should examine their current use of non-compete agreements and consider potential alternatives to safeguarding their confidential information and customer goodwill, among other legitimate business interests.” -Gregory Schreiber, attorney, Abrahams Kaslow & Cassman LLP