hiring process

Is Your Hiring Process Ineffective? Try These Helpful Methods

What’s the typical order of your hiring process? The common order is usually something like this:

  • Resume screening
  • Interview
  • Assessment
  • Job offer

Your process may not look exactly like this, as some companies have several rounds of interviews and different types of assessments. But if your hiring process generally follows this type of structure, it’s not very effective.

Time Required for Each Hiring Step

Let’s look at a more expanded version of the list above. Consider how much time each step takes, and how much information about a candidate it gives you.

Step Time needed Information received
Resume screening 5 minutes Does the candidate meet the listed requirements?
Phone interview 30 minutes Learn a bit about the candidate and why they applied for the job.
Personality test 15 minutes Find out the candidate’s personality profile.
First interview 1 hour Meet the candidate and learn about their education and previous experience.
Skill and aptitude assessment 30 minutes In-depth info about a candidate’s abilities.
Second interview 2 hours Detailed info about a candidate’s experiences.
Job offer 10 minutes Will the candidate accept the terms?

The time each step takes may vary, of course, so this is just an example. In total, this hiring process takes four hours and 30 minutes of your time. The personality test and skill/aptitude assessments include the time it takes to administer the test and review the results.

Ineffective Hiring Steps

Reading a resume doesn’t take much time, but it also doesn’t give much useful information. You can see if the candidate fulfills the basic requirements, such as skills and experience, but not much else. Candidates will often list their hobbies or personal achievements on their resume, but these are useless unless they’re in some way related to the job. Why does it matter if a candidate loves sailing or is the world champion in arm-wrestling? It doesn’t help you make a hiring decision unless you’re hiring a sailor or an arm-wrestler.

A phone interview lets you ask why they applied for the job and what they expect from the role. It’s also a chance for you to provide more detail about the job and answer the candidate’s questions. It doesn’t take too long, but also doesn’t provide any crucial information.

Personality tests are a quick way to see if a candidate would fit the company culture and be a productive employee. Though there is a lack of evidence for their usefulness. It’s also easy for candidates to lie on personality tests, which they’ll likely do if getting the job depends on it. Therefore the information you get from personality tests is not useful. Considering how unreliable they are, personality tests have no place in the hiring process.

The first interview is usually a typical unstructured interview. You meet the candidate and talk about their experience and achievements. However, you need to filter through a lot of useless information as well. Unstructured interviews are also extremely susceptible to bias. Besides, since they are completely subjective, there is no standardized criteria by which you can accurately compare different candidates. According to one study, unstructured interviews are so inaccurate that they’re counterproductive to your hiring efforts and shouldn’t be used at all.

Effective Hiring Steps

Assessments for aptitude and skill often come after an interview. Skill tests let the candidate directly demonstrate their abilities in a way that you can easily compare to other candidates. Specifically, testing a candidate’s knowledge or skill gives you valuable information that’s critical in making a hiring decision, as job skills are the main criteria for hiring someone.

Aptitude tests are also known as reasoning tests, cognitive tests, or general mental ability tests. They can assess a range of abilities such as problem-solving, abstract thinking, logical reasoning, and others. As these abilities are used in many jobs, candidates who score highly on these tests are promising.

Assessments are relatively easy to administer and don’t require much of your time, at least compared to interviews. While they do take time to create, once you have them in place, the time it takes to administer and review them is relatively short. But, you don’t need to create them yourself. You can use any online pre-employment testing service to do that for you. Thus, saving even more time and making things easier for both you and your candidates.

The second interview round is the opportunity for a structured interview. A structured interview is a type of interview where the questions are prepared in advance. All candidates are asked the same questions, in the same order, and their answers are scored based on predefined criteria. This way you can objectively compare candidates to each other. This step lets candidates provide a lot of detailed information about their experiences, work ethic, professional achievements, and other important data that can help with making a hiring decision.

The Optimal Order of Hiring Methods

Not all methods give equally valuable information, and the time they take varies significantly. So which order should you use them in? To make your hiring process more efficient, you should prioritize the methods which give the most information for the least amount of time and order the hiring process based on these criteria.

To understand which order of hiring methods is optimal, we need to rank them based on how good they are. Fortunately, there is plenty of research that tells us how good each particular hiring method is. Sadly, some of the most common hiring methods, which are widely used, such as resume screening and unstructured interviews, don’t work well. The most effective hiring methods are work-sample tests, aptitude tests, and structured interviews.

Test First…

A work-sample test assesses a candidate’s ability with a sample of actual work. For example, if you’re hiring a programmer, you ask them to write some code. If you were to hire a chef, surely you’d like to know what their food tastes like before you hire them? All things considered, there is no reason not to use this approach with almost any profession.

Aptitude tests assess cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, logical or abstract reasoning, and similar talents. They don’t show if a candidate has the required job knowledge or skills but, according to research, candidates with higher cognitive ability learn more job knowledge, and learn it faster, than those with lower cognitive ability.

Research has consistently shown that work-sample tests and aptitude tests are far more accurate and effective at predicting job performance than almost any other hiring method. Therefore, you should use tests as early as possible in your hiring process, even as the very first step. You can set up your hiring process so that candidates apply by taking the test.

Most candidates will fail a short initial skill test. That may sound bad, but it’s not. Most candidates fail pre-employment skill tests because these tests are designed as elimination tests. By filtering out weaker candidates with a pre-interview skill test, you are narrowing down the selection right from the start of the hiring process. This means that candidates that come to the interview are more qualified than if you had screened them using resumes. In other words, it’s more efficient to test for skills and aptitude before interviewing because testing doesn’t take much of your time but the information you receive from this hiring step is extremely valuable.

… Then Interview

A structured interview requires some preparation in deciding which questions to ask and defining scoring criteria. Once you have it in place, you can see how it’s far more objective than typical unstructured interviews. It’s fair to all candidates since they are all given the same questions and scored based on the same rules. It’s also far better for you, because, since the questions are standardized, you can directly and transparently compare different candidates, which is crucial in making a hiring decision. This approach works for both hard and soft skills, and helps avoid bias.

As a result, structured interviews are almost as accurate and effective as work-sample and aptitude tests. However, they require more time, which is why they should take place after the testing round(s). Testing will filter out weaker candidates, leaving only better-qualified candidates for the interview. Therefore the average time of the interview itself will likely be a bit longer, since more qualified candidates are likely to give more detailed and knowledgeable answers to your questions. But ultimately you’ll need to interview fewer candidates so overall your whole hiring process will take less time.


How you organize your hiring process has a significant impact on how efficient and effective it is. The traditional hiring model has a lot of inefficiencies that can hurt your chances of finding the best candidates.

Ordering your hiring methods optimally, based on data provided by research into hiring methods, not only makes your hiring process more accurate, it also saves a lot of time.