Skip to main content

Nora Jenkins Townson, founder of human resources consulting firm Bright + Early in downtown Toronto, says that if you’re a company that’s maybe not or offering enough financially, you may need to speed up your hiring process.Peter Power

If there’s one thing human resources professionals and recruiters have picked up in this job seeker’s market, it’s that speed matters.

Not that long ago, when candidates were plentiful and employers had time to evaluate their options, it wasn’t uncommon for the hiring process to take weeks or even months. Today, the labour shortage facing numerous sectors has created a job candidate’s market, where qualified people get snapped up quickly.

Employers who leave a potential hire hanging for more than a few days are increasingly returning to find the person has already agreed to a role elsewhere.

“The process moves so fast … You need to stay engaged,” says Nora Jenkins Townson, founder of human resources consulting firm Bright + Early. She cites the example of a friend who left his software engineering job and, within four days, had multiple offers from other companies.

“If you’re a company that’s maybe not paying as much or offering as much, and you think you can take two weeks, you’ll lose a lot of people,” Ms. Jenkins Townson adds.

This workplace shift has forced employers to rethink how they hire – re-evaluating everything from the recruitment process to how they conduct interviews.

Put your best brand forward

Employers need to convince job seekers they have a desirable work environment, which begins with making a good first impression.

For some, that begins with a candidate’s early contact with the recruiter. Companies using internal or external recruiters need to ensure those people have a deep understanding of the business and its values and can communicate that to job seekers, says Andrea Bartlett, director of people operations at Humi, a Toronto-based firm that makes human resources software.

“[Recruiters] are much more integrated into the business in what I think is a very healthy way,” says Ms. Bartlett, who has been spending more time training recruiters to work more seamlessly with the other parts of the business.

Recruiters also need to be nimble and respond to candidates based on their interests and the job they’re applying for.

“They have to be able to pivot the conversation for somebody on the client experience team, or to a narrative that a software engineer might want to hear,” she says.

Provide a positive interview experience

A positive interview experience is a necessity, says Jenkins Townson. It needs to be a collaborative effort by both parties.Peter Power

Companies also need to make a good impression in the interview process, Ms. Jenkins Townson says.

Employers can stand out to candidates by providing a personalized, positive interview experience. For some companies, that means no more “whiteboarding” coding tests in front of a panel or grilling candidates with next-to-impossible questions, she says.

“The candidate experience needs to be incredible,” Ms. Jenkins Townson adds. “I’ve always hated the interview style where you’re starting from zero and saying, ‘You [need to] impress me.’ It should be more collaborative.”

Ms. Bartlett says her company has modified what it talks about in interviews to include more about the organization’s mission and values.

“Candidates now are looking to work in a place that’s much more aligned with their values,” she says. “They’re asking more thoughtful questions about the company culture … and how the values play in action.”

Be open about expectations

During the interview, employers should be open about what they expect from employees, says Allison Colin-Thome, an HR generalist at Ratehub.ca, which makes a mortgage-comparison tool and other personal finance products.

For instance, employers should be transparent about whether they support a hybrid or remote work environment, a hot topic among employees today.

“That’s the No. 1 question that’s on most candidates’ tongues,” she says.

The interview questions should also aim to discover the type of employee the candidate would be to ensure they’re a good fit. For instance, are they a go-getter, and can they work autonomously if the job requires it?

“It’s important to zero in on whether the individual can work independently; if they have critical thinking skills; are resourceful – and whether they can go out and get the solutions themselves if they don’t have the answer at their fingertips,” Ms. Colin-Thome says. “Those qualities would always make an individual successful, especially at a fast-growing organization, but in a remote environment, those traits are so important.”

Employers should also be upfront in the interview about what type of person they believe would be successful in the position.

And while some companies like asking about employees’ hobbies or interests, Ms. Colin-Thome prefers focusing on their suitability for the position, especially given the quickened pace of the hiring process today.

“At the end of the day, you only have an hour in most cases … so you want to maximize your time,” she says. “You want to dive into the candidates’ experience and skill set, but [also] give them an opportunity to explore whether it’s right for them.”