Deselect to hire the right candidate faster

Since Kanban is about creating an ideal flow of cards on a board, when it comes to hiring talent this flow should be focused on a deselection process. Every step (column on the board) of the hiring process should be to reduce the number of candidates, so that the ideal candidate can emerge naturally. The goal of a deselection process is to save time and money, while creating the right level of due diligence for each candidate.

hiring process kanban board

Mapping your hiring process

We mapped out the hiring process to include 5 phases (Screen, Interview, Verify, Offer, Hire) and each phase has specific steps (sub columns). The goal is to map out the ideal process and confirm the right order of the key steps within that process. For example, we believe that the most expensive part of this process is the interview phase, we will do everything possible to only schedule interviews once the candidates have truly demonstrated that they are a good fit for the position. This can be achieved within the first columns of this board within the Screen phase.

Improve the quality of candidates in the first column

Receiving a resume and a cover letter is not enough to start the process…Remember that this is a deselection process, so only the best candidate should progress on the board. We should not waste time to schedule interviews, unless the candidate has shown the required qualities associated with the position and the culture of the organization. We absolutely recommend having a pre-interview questionnaire in a written or video format. Many candidates will already deselect themselves because they are unwilling to take the extra time needed to complete the questionnaire. This will quickly weed out candidates applying to every open job they see. Be sure to ask questions about your company and the position in the pre-interview questionnaire.

Assess candidates upfront with standardized tests to evaluate specific knowledge, skills or abilities. Each position might be more suitable for a specific type of test, but we highly recommend using a behavioral test with all your candidates. Since we always focus on creating high performing teams, we put a strong focus on seeking a good personality fit to complement existing members of the team. Again these tests serve as a way to use the first step (column) of your process to deselect as many candidates as possible. This is why you will see under the first column of the board very clear bullets that expect all these steps to be completed before moving the card to the next column on the board.

Measure and manage your flow

Each phase (except the last one) ends with a deselection step with a column called Select that has two sub-columns (Accept and Reject). The goal is to actively decide in every phase if the candidate should move forward. Remember that the more selective you are, the less candidates progress to the later stages, which saves time and money. If the process is clear, hiring managers should be pleased to see less candidates, but of higher quality for the position.

Over time the cycle time of the cards on this board should keep getting lower until it reaches a consistent average time. This will help you confirm how efficient your hiring process actually is. Although the board we are using in this example looks very long, it’s the mental checkpoint at every step that will help everyone involved in the process to get better over time. The goal is to spend time only on the candidates who truly match the key criteria associated with the job description. What if no candidates make it to the interview phase? Always seek to understand what is actually causing a problem. In such a case the job description and criteria should be re-evaluated, but the standards should not be lowered to hire unqualified candidates.

Visualize your process

If your hiring team using this board has multiple open positions to fill, leverage the ability to color code each position. This will not only help you to see the various positions currently being worked on, but by filtering the cards by these colored card types, you will be able to focus your efforts on only one or more specific positions, or all of them at once. Also reports and metrics in Kanban Zone can be isolated to each card type. This will provide you with better information about which positions were filled faster, so that you can model future positions to take advantage of what worked well.

Improved results

As you continue to fine tune your hiring process, be sure to have metrics in place to track if the candidates that went through this process were not only discovered and hired faster, but also stayed with your company longer. Get feedback from the candidates about the hiring process. Our experience with coaching clients to improve their hiring process is that a consistent and challenging process will attract better candidates. It might not be fun for the candidate to answer precise probing questions and written assessments, but once they are hired, they’ll know that the company is very selective.

Keep in mind that improving this process means getting qualified candidates faster through the process, not adding process for the sake of process. By the early elimination of unqualified candidates, we can focus on the qualified candidates. Also, instead of waiting for a group of candidates who all move forward interview process, as a qualified candidate makes it to the latest step, confidently hire that candidate. For many positions, good candidates are lost because of poorly planned hiring process and constant delays or confusion about next steps. Your best candidates will be in high demand, so be sure to identify them quickly and not lose them during the process. Focus on getting the right candidate by investing in your hiring process, not by getting the most candidates in front of the hiring manager.

NOTE: As part of our research to create this board template, we gathered valuable input from both recruiters working within hiring organizations and staffing agencies. Although this template could be used for both, because the focus is on efficiency by using a deselection process, our research has shown that this process might be better suited for hiring organizations. Staffing agencies seeking to build relationships with candidates who could be placed multiple times over the years, might choose a selection process instead.

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