10 March 2023

How to Streamline Your Hiring Process

Steve Halsall

Red Tiger Consulting


Recruiting for a role is a two-way process. The need for the candidates to sell themselves and demonstrate their suitability for any role is a given. HR professionals and hiring managers also play a significant role in ‘selling’ the role and company to the candidate. In my experience, candidates can be easily put off by something that was said or the way they were made to feel as part of the hiring process.

interview: how to streamline your hiring process

Interviews should be challenging and laser-focused on providing a robust means with which to assess candidates. But how can you really establish the wheat from the chaff? Are people in front of you really good for the role, or just really good at interviewing?

This post outlines some tips based on many years as a hiring manager and recruiter advising clients on their hiring process.

Is your Job Specification Fit for Purpose?

Before the hiring process commences, I would ensure that there is a common consensus on the job specification and what your ‘ideal’ candidate looks like. The job spec shouldn’t be too lengthy – this ca be off-putting to the candidate and whilst it may seem like you are covering all possible bases in terms of responsibility, it may give the impression that the job may be too large if the remit includes everything. It is worth re-visiting the job spec as requirements may change. Try to agree and document your absolute musts and nice to haves.

This will also mean that any interviewers in the process should be aligned in terms of exactly what they are looking for.

Could you Benefit from Specialist Agency Help?

In our experience, most in-house recruiters are extremely stretched. I spoke to someone before Christmas who was managing more than 90 live roles – this isn’t sustainable on both fronts. The person left their role due to burnout, and the business will be suffering with so many unfilled gaps in their workforce.

The better in-house recruiters will be very clear when they need external agency help (and be supported with budget to pay for that help) and engage with the best specialist in the that area. Red Tiger Talent have certainly delivered benefits of speed to market (given we are already established within the talent pool of insight and analytics), and we have built up a relationship with a significant proportion of the target market.

Are you Clear on How to Assess Candidates?

It is very common to document the questions you wish to ask the candidates. It is less common to agree and document a rating system depending on the candidates’ answers. This should involve all of the hiring managers and HR professionals involved in the process and be clear on rating scale. It may be useful to use some sort of scorecard to objectively assess candidates.

The questioning style may vary for first and second interview but most stages would include the following 4 types of questions:

1. Describe themselves

This could include the candidate’s career history to date and may well start with “give me a summary of your CV” or “tell me about yourself?”

2. Their understanding of the role/company

These are to test that the candidate is fully versed in the job description, the team and company. Despite the wealth of resources at candidate’s fingertips, some still don’t bother researching the company, the team, or immersing themselves in the job specification.

3. Competency questions

These tend to cover areas such as adaptability, conflict resolution, decisiveness, teamwork, resilience, leadership, flexibility, and problem solving. The candidate’s answer should be assessed in terms of the example task or situation, what they did (action), and what the result or outcome was of their action. Example competency questions include:

  • Give me an example of where you handled conflict in the workplace?
  • What is your biggest achievement to date?
  • Give me an example of a situation where you solved a problem in a creative way.
  • How do you cope in adversity?

4. Technical questions

These really depend on the type of role and how technical it is. This could vary from a technical question on the specific software used; for example, if the role requires Excel skills, “describe the vlookup function”.

Use Tests as Appropriate but Let them Inform, Rather than Dictate, the Decision

Some businesses may choose to use Psychometrics as part of their assessment process. Whilst these can be really useful to consistently assess a candidate’s strengths, it is worth considering them as part of the wider assessment criteria you agree to use. In my view, Psychometrics are a really useful input into the process but shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

Another common approach with more numerate roles is to run some sort of numeracy test. This could be numerical reasoning or purely one testing mental arithmetic. These can be useful but be mindful of whether the test is appropriate for the role and whether the test conditions are reflective of the real-life work environment. It is also worth periodically reviewing these tests and ensuring that they are most appropriate for the evolving roles you have.

There may also be a technical assessment as part of the role, particularly when a piece of analytics software is to be used (e.g. Excel, Alteryx, Tableau). It may be appropriate to be given a timed assessment testing the candidates’ skills in specific software. This could be given as ‘homework’ for submission prior to the interview or be incorporated into the formal interview process. These assessments take time to create and should be tested on internal teams before they are used on external candidates.

Finally, the other types of evaluations that tend to be kept for 2nd or final stage are dependent on the type of role and are as follows:


If the candidate is likely to be in a client facing role it may be appropriate to get them to present a short presentation on a topic of interest to them or the the role. This is an opportunity to see their presentation style in front of a wider group (and incorporate other colleagues into the process). Do they stick to the brief? Do they keep to time? Are their slides clear and concise? Do they handle questions with confidence and integrity?

Timeline or Strategy

Other roles, typically more strategic in nature, may require the candidate to prepare their thoughts on a part of the job role. This could be something like “discuss what your first 90 days in the role may look like”, or “present a strategy on what your first month in the business will look like”.


Some research roles involve report writing and so you may give the candidates a brief and ask them to write a short report outlining their findings and recommendations. This can either be done in the candidates’ spare time or it could be done as part of the interview as a timed exercise.

With any requirement for candidates to complete things outside of ‘existing’ work time it is worth ensuring that:

  • The brief is clear and provides necessary support material
  • The actual task is not too long-winded – as a rule I would look to create a task that takes between 2 to 4 hours to complete
  • Don’t ask the candidate to completely solve the challenges they are potentially being brought on to solve – this could be seen by the interviewee as an ideas-gathering exercise. If required, try to get them to think about a specific area

Don’t Overload the 1st Interview

It is best to keep the 1st interview stage as quite light touch, where the interviewer is testing the candidate for goodness of fit within the team and their understanding / interest in the role. It is also an opportunity for the candidate to ask a few questions about the wider team, culture, and career progression. I would recommend using the 2nd or 3rd interview to dig deeper into their skillset and experience and look to assess any other technical or softer skills they are required to have in the role.

These tests can include some of those described above.

Give the Candidate the Best Chance of Success

Even the most hardened interviewees will get nervous before an interview so it is good practice to enable the candidate to ‘land gently’ in the room or on the video/phone call. Put them at ease by asking a softer question to start with. This could be something about their journey in or on one of their hobbies and interests (if they put that in their CV). The first few minutes of an interview are critical for both employer and potential employee.

Be Clear on the Process to Both Candidate and Interviewees

This is something that Red Tiger advise clients and candidates on – notably about the number of stages and the types of assessment / attendees at each stage.

The process usually involves 2-3 stages

First Interview

Typically with the hiring manager and HR (if appropriate). This should be about testing goodness of fit, whether they have the skills / experience and their understanding of the role. This usually lasts no more than 1 hours and it is more commonly done via Teams/Zoom (to make it quicker to schedule). It is worth noting that some clients are now insisting on doing this face to face.

Second Interview

This may last up to 1.5 hours and is typically with the hiring manager and some other colleagues in the team. This is more likely to be done face to face. This may be split into 2 sections:

  • Interview – deeper dive into their CV with hiring manager and another member of the team
  • Appropriate exercise – this could be a presentation (to a wider group), a technical or numeracy test (depending on the type of role), or some sort of exercise (see above)

(Optional) Third Interview

This may be needed when a decision has been made but they wish to put their preferred candidate in front of the senior exec to get their approval. Usually this is more informal. There may be subsequent interviews, depending on the level of seniority.

It is also worth closing the interview with a clear and concise summary of next steps, including timescales on when the candidate is likely to hear back.

Speed is of the Essence

The final point is that too many times we have clients lose out on candidates because they are unable to collapse the process into a few weeks. Delay could be due to procrastination, too much bureaucracy, or just poor availability of key decision makers.

I was recruiting for a client and 2 weeks before Xmas I delivered 3 excellent candidates. When I chased for feedback I was informed by the HR manager that the hiring manager was now on leave until after Xmas and that they wouldn’t be able to review the CVs until the new year. Unfortunately, all the candidates withdrew from the process as they had secured roles by Xmas.

The most successful hires we work on tend to ensure that the timescales from initial CV submission to final offer is less than two weeks. Depending on the area you are recruiting it is certainly a candidates’ market and I can’t see any downside to moving quickly.

I hope you found some of our advice worthwhile. We are always happy to have a no obligation chat with HR/Hiring Manager if required.

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Published by Steve Halsall

Steve is the founder of Red Tiger Consulting. He has worked in Location Planning for over 20 years – both on the consultancy side and client side. His passion is building successful teams that evolve their capability (skills, software and data) to meet the ever changing requirements of analysis. In his spare time he is mainly kept busy with his two children, falling in and out of love with Liverpool FC and at some point he wants to re-start his golfing ‘career’.


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