16 Oct 2019

6 Tips for Hiring the Right Candidate, Quickly

In June 2019 unemployment in the US was a staggering 3.8%; down from 4.4% at the beginning of this year. In the education and health services industries specifically, unemployment was 3%. 

With there being so many more jobs than qualified people to fill them, hiring the right candidate is harder than ever. We have seen top talent leave the job market within as little as 10 days, and the longer a position remains unfilled, the more it is costing the employer! Understaffed companies suffer from missing projected targets, delayed product launches, overworked employees/low morale, and ultimately, taking a hit to their profits.

But while it’s important to streamline the hiring process, it’s also important that it doesn’t come at the cost of finding the right person. In this article, I will discuss the best way to hire the right candidate as quickly and efficiently as possible.

1. Define the selection criteria prior to searching

Everyone involved in making the hiring decision needs to define what the perfect candidate will look like (experience, education, personality, strengths, etc). This way, everyone is on the same page when the resumes start coming in. This removes indecision on whether to interview someone or not. It also helps to make sure you’re only seeing qualified candidates when using an external recruitment firm. Not certain who should be involved in the interview? Watch this video to learn more.

2. Define the interview process BEFORE interviewing

Nothing gums up the process more than not having a defined interview process in place before looking at candidates. Do you need 6 interviews with 6 different people? Depending on the level of the role’s seniority, the answer is most likely no. How many decision-makers do you need? What process will each candidate go through? Interviews should be no more than 1 week apart. This is a standard process:

  • Phone screen with the hiring manager. If the hiring manager is new to their position, then their manager should also be involved.
  • Optional second phone screen if there is a secondary decision-maker.
  • Face-to-face (F2F) meeting with all the decision-makers. If the candidate is local, this can replace the phone screens to streamline the process even further.
  • Reference checks. Most companies wait until this point to check references, but my personal preference as a recruiter is to check references prior to submitting a candidate to the hiring manager. There’s nothing more disappointing than getting a candidate this far into the process only to find out they lied about something or were under-performed.
  • Offer.

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3. Compare to the criteria, no other candidates

In a candidate-driven market, you cannot rely on having a large pool of candidates. The old ways of hiring - getting 20 resumes together and picking them apart for weeks and having plenty of back-ups - just will not fly today. I have worked in positions where there was one single candidate who was qualified and interested. And how desirable do you think a candidate like that is to all the competitor companies out there? Very. If you don’t act fast, you WILL lose them to your competition. Compare whatever candidates you get to the criteria you established at the beginning of the process rather than to other candidates.

4. Get verbal acceptance prior to sending an offer

Ideally, during the F2F interview, the terms of an offer should be discussed with the candidate. Salary, commission structure (if applicable), benefits, PTO, etc should be covered and agreed upon by the candidate verbally. Something along the lines of “If we were to extend the offer we just discussed, would you feel comfortable accepting it?” If the candidate is unsure about anything, you have an opportunity right then to respond to their objection. This way, there are no surprises (on either end) when an offer letter is extended. This article provides more information on how to ensure your offer is accepted.

5. Get the offer signed quickly!

There is absolutely no reason to give candidates a week to return an offer letter; especially if you’ve completed the previous point of getting it accepted verbally first. All offer letters should expire after 2-3 days max. Otherwise, you run into the possibility of the candidate trying to leverage the offer with their current company to get a promotion or raise. This tactic often turns out very poorly for the candidate down the road, and they may find themselves laid off in a few months. But, it doesn’t deter people from trying it. They could also leverage it against another job they’re interviewing for to force them to send an offer faster. If the candidate has already verbally accepted the offer, they only need time to read the letter and make sure it lines up with the verbal offer. Spouses should already be on board!

6. You’re hiring an expert in their field, why not work with one?

So often companies rely on their HR team to get their candidates and handle them through the process, and this is rarely successful long term. HR is a department that handles all relations for existing employees, and they have plenty to do to keep them busy! Expecting them to also recruit and handle the interview process puts more work on their plate, but things will often fall through the cracks. Good recruiters are experts in their field. Their sole job is to hunt and find the right person rather than posting on a job site and collecting passive applicants. They don’t get paid unless you hire their candidate, and their reputations in the industry rely on making long-term placements. Can you think of a stronger motivator to quickly find quality talent?


Sometimes it’s difficult to see the big picture of the cost not having critical people in place can present. I often hear “we don’t have the budget to hire an external recruiter.” The problem is, 6, 8, 12 months down the road when they still haven’t found the right person, slowed production and personnel deficit have caused them to lose much more than my recruitment fee. The hiring manager also suffers from extra work. It is possible to recruit faster and hire a quality person in a short amount of time, but it will require a hard look at the current processes and leaning on recruitment professionals.

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