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Hiring in a Hurry

Despite your best-laid plans, you will find yourself trying to fill your open positions at the eleventh-hour. Whether you’re gearing up for seasonal hiring, expanding your staff to accommodate a new client, or a executing a new marketing campaign that’s bound to inundate your contact center with new customers, your hiring process has far-reaching impacts on the performance of your customer service operation. Even if you personally are not directly responsible for agent hiring, you have a vested interest in the performance of those who do – your recruiting and talent acquisition business partners.

When you find yourself with short lead times to work with, your hiring process needs to be extraordinarily nimble. All too often recruiting teams who are pressured to fill seats quickly, or are rapidly approaching the training-start date, will hire marginal candidates who are probable turnover risks and/or poor performers. Either way, it puts you in a difficult position as you try to maintain service standards, drive customer satisfaction, and achieve your sales performance goals. Your hiring process needs to be fast and produce high-quality candidates. Despite appearances, these are not contrary goals.

Many companies adhere to a multi-step process that can take many weeks to complete and is frankly better suited to positions outside the contact center. In addition, they still adhere to outdated, manual phone screening early in the hiring cycle to establish a candidate’s basic communication, language and critical thinking skills. This technique is expensive, time-consuming, labor intensive and error-prone. And it’s often the first place where organizations take short cuts when under time pressure to quickly fill positions. Have you ever wondered to yourself (or maybe even out loud), “How did this person ever get hired?” Yet, accelerating the hiring process doesn’t mean that you have to compromise candidate quality.

Screening for these skills is especially important for customer service positions, and a consistent process to do so is essential in ensuring high-quality hires. Furthermore, industry and academic studies have long maintained that the speed of hiring has a direct, positive, and measureable impact on quality of hire and employee engagement. Virtual interviewing technology has proven to reduce the time to hire by as much as 84%, meaning you can move candidates through your recruiting process more rapidly. Since the virtual interview can be administered without direct recruiter intervention, candidates can complete an interview immediately after submitting their application.

This has the effect of creating a 24x7 recruiting team without increasing recruiter labor. Companies that have integrated virtual interviewing into their hiring programs also report significant increases in candidate volume – in some cases by a factor of 4 or 5 times. Imagine cycling more highly qualified candidates through your process, faster, with no additional recruiter labor! What’s not to love?

More candidates mean more – and better – choices, but sometimes the additional volume can overwhelm even the best-prepared recruiting team. With a big stack, virtual or otherwise, of applications to review, where does one start? Companies often start with the candidate’s self-identified qualifications, prioritize based on who looks best “on paper,” then employ a simple, first-in, first-out process until the class is filled. This approach is flawed in a couple of ways: 1) a candidate’s past experience may not be a reliable predictor of excellent performance in YOUR environment; and 2) you WILL leave some exceptional candidates “on the table.” The judicious application of technology can help here as well.

Predictive analytics software systematically compares key performance outcomes of your current agent population such as employee tenure, FCR and CSAT attainment, and sales conversion rate with the pre-hire profiles of these current employees. These correlations are used to identify applicants who exhibit the same traits of known excellent performers.

These “big data” models enable recruiting teams and their stakeholders to quickly and automatically vet the candidate pool and hire those who are more apt to make an immediate impact. Furthermore, advanced machine learning techniques further refine these predictive analytics results over time, effectively raising the bar for all subsequent applicants. Therefore, the overall performance of your contact center continues to increase, even as new hires are brought on board.

The pressure to quickly hire new agents needn’t give you sweaty palms. Streamlining your recruiting process CAN reduce the time to fill while supplying high-quality applicants. Look to technology to help unburden your team from more mundane recruitment tasks and use your knowledge of known excellent performers to model the attributes required of future candidates.