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Is Your Hiring Broken? A Guide to Troubleshooting Your Recruitment Process

In this article

Paul Beglinger
Head of People & Operations, Carv
Close to a decade of experience crafting success stories, from startup to global presence.

An inefficient hiring process can lead to a number of challenges, including difficulty attracting top talent, high time-to-hire, and ultimately, poor quality of hire.

Troubleshooting this process is akin to detective work – by following a structured approach and gathering the right data, you can pinpoint problem areas and implement solutions for a smoother, more effective recruitment journey.

Here's a breakdown of the key steps involved.

Step 1: Start with your end goals

Form a cross-functional team with diverse perspectives. Involve your Human Resources and TA team, hiring managers, and ideally, someone from the operations team. Their expertise in process optimization and data analysis will be valuable assets.

Together, define clear goals. Here are some high-level areas to focus on:

  • Candidate experience: Is your hiring process leaving a positive impression? Are candidates feeling confused, frustrated, or unvalued during the process? A negative candidate experience can damage your employer brand and make it harder to attract top talent in the future.
  • Recruiter effectiveness: Are your recruiters equipped to identify and attract the best candidates in the most effective manner? Or are they bogged down in admin work that kills most of their time?
  • Efficiency & speed: Is your hiring process moving at a snail's pace? Analyze the time it takes to fill open positions and identify bottlenecks. Are you lacking standardized procedures and tools that could streamline repetitive tasks?
  • Quality of hire: Are you attracting and hiring the right people? Evaluate the long-term performance and retention metrics of new hires. A strong quality-of-hire indicates an efficient process that identifies and attracts top talent.

Step 2: Gather intel - Map your current process and data flows

The goal of this step is to help you visualize your process at all levels: candidate and client journey, data architecture, data tracking throughout your tech stack, assets involved.

Visually map your entire hiring journey, from intake call to job posting to onboarding. Include every step, decision point, and timeline.

Next, take inventory. Identify all the tools and platforms used – ATS, job boards, social media, interview scheduling, assessment software, and so on. This initial mapping helps visualize the big picture and identify potential roadblocks.

Along with the tools used, map the assets and data flows that describe your entire candidate and client journey.

What data points are you working with, what documents are you collecting or creating, and what naming conventions are you using across tools or in your data tracking?

Step 3: Analyze your data to identify inefficiencies

Based on your process map, choose the relevant metrics for each stage, as described above.

Dive deep into your ATS and other relevant tools to gather historical data on these metrics. Look for trends and anomalies.

Complement the data with qualitative feedback. Review candidate interview scores, feedback forms, and conduct surveys to understand their experience.

For example, a high application-to-interview ratio might suggest an overly broad job description, while a low offer acceptance rate could indicate an uncompetitive offer or a negative candidate experience.

Step 4: Prioritize high-impact issues

Based on your findings, prioritize the issues based on their impact on hiring success.

For each prioritized area, brainstorm potential solutions.

  • If your candidate experience is unsatisfactory, consider adding automation and personalization to speed up the process and make it feel more personal. Provide 24/7 support to candidates with frequently asked questions and application status updates, reducing frustration and keeping them informed.
  • If your recruitment process is too slow, consider delegating all tasks that don’t require real-time human intervention to AI and automation tools. For example, use AI workmates to delegate the admin related to intake calls and interviews, and integrate an AI recruitment solution with your ATS to automatically populate data like candidate profiles or create outreach and follow-up emails.
  • If your recruiters are burnt out from spending too much time on admin, the solution above will free up their time and allow them to focus on high-impact actions. Also, you can implement AI scheduling tools that allow candidates and interviewers to find mutually agreeable times, reducing delays and accelerating the hiring process.
  • If your quality of hire is poor or time to hire too long, you can use AI sourcing to automatically identify candidates that could match your open positions, reach out to them, and shortlist the profiles that fit your needs the best. Also, you could use AI to predict which candidates would be top performers, based on your current employees' performance.

Test your solutions on a small scale before implementing them broadly. Continuously monitor your chosen metrics to see if they improve.

Remember, troubleshooting is an iterative process. Be prepared to refine your approach as you gather more information and test different solutions.

Areas to focus on for improving your recruitment process

Job intake stage

The job intake stage is the foundation of your hiring process. Misunderstandings in this early stage can bloom, leading to wasted time and resources.

What can go wrong

  • Misaligned expectations: If you don't capture the hiring manager's needs accurately during the intake interview, the job description and recruitment efforts might target the wrong skill set. This leads to a pool of unqualified candidates and a frustrated hiring manager.
  • Unrealistic requirements: Sometimes, hiring managers might list overly specific or rigid requirements that aren't essential for success in the role. This can limit the number of job applications and exclude quality candidates with transferable skills and experience.
  • Slow progress: A slow and inefficient intake process can lead to delays in finalizing the job description and launching the recruitment campaign. This puts you behind schedule and limits the pool of potential candidates.

Metrics to focus on

  • Hiring manager satisfaction score: Conduct a post-intake survey with hiring managers to gauge their satisfaction with the clarity of communication and alignment.
  • Time to finalize job description: While not the strongest metric, a longer-than-average time to finalize the job description could indicate challenges during the intake stage, such as difficulty capturing the hiring manager's needs accurately. Or it could be a sign that your recruiters are overworked and could use a hand from an AI workmate - a virtual colleague to delegate their admin to.
  • Conversion rate from job posting to qualified applicant: This measures the effectiveness of the job description and sourcing strategy in attracting qualified candidates who meet the criteria defined during the intake stage.

Potential solution

Consider delegating all the admin related to intake calls to AI. This will free up recruiters to focus on the client relationships and on strategic or quality assurance tasks, as opposed to purely admin work.

For example, AI recruitment tools like Carv can assist recruiters before, during, and after intake calls, by joining the meetings and:

  • Taking notes during the meeting,
  • Extracting action items and summarizing the call,
  • Writing job requirements and job descriptions,
  • Or sending follow-up emails to the client, to confirm all the details before publishing the vacancy.

You can see how this works in practice by creating a free account and using the example intake call available in the Carv platform.

Candidate acquisition phase

The talent acquisition phase is where you set the stage for a successful hire. But just like fishing, using the wrong bait in the wrong location won't attract the right catch.

What can go wrong

  • Uninspiring job descriptions: A poorly written job description is like a dull fishing lure – it won't grab the attention of qualified candidates. Unclear language, overly specific requirements, and a lack of engagement can leave job seekers confused or uninterested.
  • Misaligned sourcing channels: Imagine casting your net in a calm lake when the best fish are in a rushing river. Using generic job boards to attract highly specialized candidates, or neglecting passive candidates, will leave your talent pipeline empty.
  • Ignoring candidate experience: Just like a frustrating fishing trip can deter people from returning, a negative candidate experience can damage your employer brand and make it harder to attract top talent in the future. Slow responses, lack of communication, or a confusing application process can leave job candidates feeling undervalued.

Let's break this down further.

Job descriptions

Talk to hiring managers who reviewed initial applicants. Did they feel the candidates possessed the skills and experience outlined in the job description?

Analyze the job descriptions for clarity and focus. Does the job description clearly explain the role's responsibilities and day-to-day tasks? Review the wording, structure, and overall content of the job description.

Are all the skills and experience listed essential for success in the position, or could some be rephrased as "preferred" to broaden the candidate pool?

Metrics to focus on

  • Number of applicants: A low number of applicants could indicate the job posting is unclear, unattractive, or not reaching the right talent pool. A high number of applicants may suggest the description is broad and attracting unqualified candidates.
  • Time-to-first applicant: A long wait for the first application could indicate the job description isn't resonating with the target audience or isn't posted in the right places.

Potential solution

If your job descriptions are misleading because your recruiters are rushed or the notes from the intake calls aren't thorough enough, this is another area where an AI workmate can help.

Consider delegating this task to AI as well, and let artificial intelligence create your job descriptions - you'll save time and eliminate inaccuracies, as your hiring team will be able to focus on refining the descriptions instead of writing them from scratch.

If your job descriptions seem fine but you’re not getting the right candidates, it’s time to look at your sourcing channels and tactics.

Sourcing tactics and channel effectiveness

Is your current approach to attracting candidates like throwing spaghetti at a wall? Not great. Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach and identify the most effective sourcing channels for specific roles.

Take a deep dive into the sources you currently use to advertise open positions. Are you relying heavily on social media platforms, or are you exploring more specialized job boards relevant to the specific skills and industry of the role?

Consider the ideal candidate profile defined during the job intake stage. What platforms and online communities do they frequent? Are there relevant industry conferences, professional networking groups, or targeted social media advertising opportunities you could explore?

Metrics to focus on

  • Applicants per channel: Analyze the number of applicants each source generates. While a high volume can be appealing, what truly matters is quality. Look for sources that consistently deliver a pool of qualified candidates who meet your criteria.
  • Source conversion rate: The source conversion rate, which measures the percentage of applicants from a specific source who progress to the interview stage, reveals which channels are most effective at attracting qualified talent. A low conversion rate from a particular source might indicate it's not reaching the right talent pool.

By analyzing this data and taking targeted actions, you can optimize your strategy and ensure you source candidates in the most effective channels, attracting the top talent you crave.

Potential solution

Again, we'll recommend AI as a potential solution - maybe we're a bit biased here, but AI sourcing can really be your secret weapon. Consider integrating an AI solution with your current talent pool for fully automated, 24/7 sourcing and matching. AI can also browse through job platforms and social media platforms searching for candidates that fit your open roles and your client profiles.

Candidate screening stage

Not every resume deserves an interview, but are you inadvertently tossing aside hidden gems?

The candidate screening stage is crucial for identifying the best talent in your pipeline. Here's what can go wrong and how to ensure you’re screening candidates effectively.

  • Keyword catastrophe: Relying solely on keywords in your Applicant Tracking System can be a recipe for disaster. Qualified candidates with transferable skills and relevant experience might get tossed aside simply because their resumes don't perfectly match every keyword.
  • Focus on the wrong details: Are you screening resumes based on irrelevant details like specific software versions or educational institutions, while overlooking transferable skills, adaptability, and potential? This can lead to a shallow pool of candidates who may not be the best fit for the role.
  • Inconsistent screening: If different recruiters use their own subjective criteria for screening resumes, it can lead to inconsistencies and potentially miss out on valuable candidates.

Let's break this down further.

Resume screening

Your resume screening process should be a filter, not a roadblock. Analyze the screening criteria itself: are you relying solely on keyword matching?

This could lead you to miss qualified candidates whose resumes don't perfectly align with the keywords, but who possess the skills and experience needed for the role.

Consider including a section for "Why We Rejected" to gather valuable insights from screeners.

Metrics to focus on

  • Monitor the number of resumes screened and the time spent on each one. A high number of rejections early on could indicate overly rigid screening criteria.
  • Interview scorecards can also help track trends in skills and experience of successful candidates.

Potential solution

Needless to say, AI recruitment software can take over this repetitive admin task. For example, Carv's AI workmate can create a comprehensive candidate profile by analyzing a candidate's resume, ATS data, and screening calls or interviews, and match the candidate with an existing role based on job fit.

Interview process

The interview stage is your chance to truly assess a candidate's fit for the role and your company culture. But are you using the right questions and format to identify the hidden gems?

Gather feedback through interview feedback forms, interview scorecards, and candidate experience surveys. Are candidates feeling confused, unprepared, or uninspired by the interview process?

Evaluate the interview format and questions used. Are your interview questions generic and repetitive? Do they truly assess the specific skills and cultural fit needed for the role?

Metrics to focus on

  • Track the number of interview rounds and the time it takes to hire a new employee. A lengthy interview process can discourage top talent.
  • Monitor offer acceptance rates to see if qualified candidates are choosing other opportunities.

Potential solution

If you're losing candidates because your hiring process is too long, delegating your interview-related admin to AI can help shorten the time to hire. However, if your interview quality is a problem - for example, if your recruiting team is less experienced, you could consider employing AI for building an interviewer training program.

Also, you can use AI-driven automation to keep candidates in the loop throughout the process and to speed up the follow-ups, to make sure they don't lose interest.

Candidate communication

Are you keeping candidates informed at every stage of the selection process? This includes acknowledging applications promptly, providing feedback after interviews (even for those not selected), and communicating clear timelines throughout the process.

Feeling left in the dark can be frustrating for candidates. On the other hand, a simple automated message thanking them for their interest and letting them know the next steps goes a long way. This shows respect for their time and effort.

As a general rule, try to set correct expectations by outlining the general timeframe for each stage of the hiring process. This helps candidates manage their time effectively and reduces anxiety.

Metrics to focus on

  • Time to respond to applications: Track the average time it takes to acknowledge applications and provide initial feedback. Maintain a record of all communication with candidates, including emails, phone calls, and notes from meetings.
  • Time between interview stages: Analyze the average time between interview rounds. Unnecessary delays can leave candidates feeling frustrated and undervalued.
  • Offer acceptance rate: Monitor your offer acceptance rate. A low rate could indicate that qualified candidates are dropping out due to a negative communication experience during the hiring process.

By gathering and analyzing this data, you can identify areas for improvement in your hiring process.

Potential solution

AI-based automation can take over all the communication with candidates, from the initial outreach to the final offer letter. All these hiring stages can be delegated without losing personalization or the human touch, as long as the interview itself is conducted by a recruiter, respectively hiring manager.

For example, during sourcing, AI recruiters can reach out to candidates via WhatsApp or similar applications, to see if they'd be open to a new role. Moreover, AI workmates equipped with human-like voice and behavior can conduct pre-screening calls - of course, after disclosing that they're AI assistants working on behalf of your team.

Delegating all these tasks to artificial intelligence can significantly decrease the workload of your TA team, improving the overall quality and thoroughness of your hiring process.

Overall process efficiency

Finally, let's zoom out and examine your overall process efficiency and the effectiveness of your recruitment strategies.

Conduct a thorough review of the entire hiring process and analyze data from each stage to identify repetitive and time-consuming tasks, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies.

Metrics to focus on

  • Time-to-hire: Track the average time it takes to fill an open position, from job posting to offer acceptance. A shorter time-to-hire indicates a more efficient process.
  • Cost per hire: Calculate the total cost associated with filling a position, including advertising, recruitment fees, administrative costs, and screening tools. A lower cost-per-hire suggests a more efficient use of resources.
  • Quality of hire: Evaluate the long-term performance and retention rates of new hires. A strong quality-of-hire metric indicates an efficient process that identifies and attracts top talent, ultimately leading to a stronger team and improved business outcomes.

Remember, a streamlined and efficient recruitment journey benefits everyone – you fill roles faster, attract top talent, and create a positive candidate experience that strengthens your employer brand.

Potential solution

If your overall process efficiency requires improvements, we encourage you to take a look at AI-led or autonomous recruitment. For example, tools like Carv enable zero-admin recruitment by taking over all the admin tasks related to sourcing, screening, and interviewing, so your recruiting team can focus on building relationships with candidates and clients.

By following this approach to troubleshooting, you'll transform your recruitment process from a reactive scramble to a proactive talent acquisition engine. So, take a deep breath, grab your metaphorical magnifying glass, and start gathering your data.

And if you’re curious to see how Carv’s AI can support you in improving your overall recruitment effectiveness, you can book a call with our team below.

AI-Powered Recruitment

Cut Admin, Boost Hiring
with Carv

Carv is AI purpose-built to take over admin tasks related to intake calls & interviews.