In this scarce talent market, we at SIA are hearing more about finding ways to bring in more candidates who are close to the requirements rather than ways to weed them out. This sounds like a great way to build loyalty and increase retention in the long run, but it doesn’t seem to be so easy to implement.

The current process for both finding a job and filling a job is complicated, to say the least. Job boards like Indeed, Monster and LinkedIn are great sources for the job seeker to find positions with multiple companies, and the companies themselves have greatly improved their job postings on their internal company websites as well. Often, though, the same position is posted by the hiring companies and multiple staffing firms in multiple places, which may leave the job seeker confused and also a bit skeptical. Then there are undefined processes candidates face, assuming their résumés gain any traction at all. It may not make a difference for the ultimate hiring decision, but it does create a level of confusion that could affect candidate submissions and retention.

With a recent college grad in my house who has been looking for her start in the working world, I am seeing this play out firsthand. She has been through multiple sites and often finds that a position posted on a job board is not posted on the company site and vice versa. The person listed as the recruiter might be an employee of the company, a contract recruiter or a staffing firm recruiter — which the average job seeker doesn’t quite understand. It isn’t surprising to me that they are confused; we are a confusing industry.

The interview process is also confusing. How many steps and interviews should a candidate expect? How long will each take? I recently saw a process that required a candidate to undergo a pre-screen with the recruiter on availability and general interest, then a personality test, then a real screen with the recruiter diving deeper into the position, then an email test, and then an on-camera interview with the hiring manager — which was canceled just before the scheduled time either due to changes in the hiring manager’s plans or because they just hired a previously interviewed candidate.

Another company required a research project and then a mock interview with a candidate before they could move to the next level in the complicated process.

It all seems like way too much and can at times result in the loss of quality candidates. But there are ways to minimize these onerous processes.

Create a short list. Many hiring managers have a résumé and interview threshold; mine is about five. Once I get past five candidates, I really don’t want to keep interviewing. I much prefer referrals and look for the candidate who has aptitude and the right attitude to push harder to make things work even if it might be a stretch.

Streamline the process. More studies have proven that you have better retention when positive candidate experience is a priority in the hiring process. The best interview process still has a 50% chance of failing, so by finding a way to streamline the process you can get to your hiring success — or failure — quicker. Then there is the impact the entire process has on the candidate experience in general, which ultimately affects their desire to give it the extra push to succeed in the role.

Use assessment tools effectively. Assessment tools are great to gauge a candidate’s technical skills and have an important place in the hiring process. However, the process needs to be planned appropriately to ensure it does not turn the candidates away too soon, create so much friction in the process that the candidate loses interest in the role or, worse, create a bad experience with the company.

Communicate. To win the war for talent, we need to make the candidate feel valued in the process. Make sure you have a way to acknowledge their application and clearly communicate who is conducting the initial screen and at what point they are considered shortlisted. Let the job seeker know approximately how many interviews, assessments and/or mock meetings they might have to go through before seriously being considered for the role.

Everyone likes to know where they stand. The hiring manager should know how many phases in the interview process the candidate will go through. Prior to starting the recruitment process, meet with all parties involved and eliminate steps that create too much friction in the process. Create a more pleasant experience for the candidates that may one day make a positive impact at your company and get one step closer to winning the war for talent.