Improve Your Recruiting Results Using These Best Practices From Top Firms (Covering employees as references, impactful fonts, and candidate interview warm-ups)

In this monthly piece, Dr. Sullivan highlights 3 best practices that reveal the future of recruiting.

The Benefits Of Adopting Best Practices From Other Firms

The best way to rapidly improve your recruiting results involves borrowing and tweaking the best practices from other leading recruiting functions to fit your situation. Adopting best practices is a superior approach because:

  • The arguments for executive support are already proven – the business case and the “proof of concept” has already been successfully completed at one major data-driven firm. Using these proven arguments again will make it relatively easy to get executive support for this practice at your company.
  • Program development costs will be much lower – if you face significant budget constraints in your function. Realize that you will save a significant amount of money normally spent on program development and implementation costs. You are adopting an already well-vetted program design from another firm.
  • You’ll be operational faster – in addition to saving costs. Borrowing an existing practice also allows you to avoid many development and implementation delays in a brand-new program. And because it needs less development and testing time, your recruiting program will begin producing positive results much faster.
  • There’s a minimum risk of failure – because this best practice has already proven itself at another firm. Therefore, the risk of complete failure at your company is minimal.
  • Best practice benchmarking can alert you about the future direction of recruiting – even when the identified best practice is deemed too advanced to be adopted at your organization. Realize that just knowing about these best practices will allow you to judge your progress compared to others. And knowing about each practice has the added benefit of providing insight into the future direction of recruiting.

In the remainder of this article, you will find an outline of three recently developed recruiting best practices that every recruiting leader should be aware of. 

BEST PRACTICE #1 – Using Current Employees As Supplemental References

One of the primary reasons so many new hires fail is because most reference checking processes are highly flawed. So, here is a way to improve reference checking. My private conversations with Google revealed this best practice. Any current employees who have had some “work overlap” with a candidate are asked to provide a reference covering whether the applicant would be a good hire.

The primary goal of this practice – is to improve the quality of hires by gathering additional positive and negative information about a candidate from any current employees who worked with them in the past. 

Key features of this best practice include:

  • You first identify employees with overlapping experience with the applicant – this supplemental reference process starts by electronically searching your employee database. Identify all current employees who had “overlapping times” where they worked at the same company or organization as the applicant. After identifying your employees with overlapping workplaces and times. Each employee is asked what they know about the applicant.
  • Adding another reference will give you more information – you get an “insider’s perspective” on the applicant’s fit, teamwork, judgment, and capabilities.
  • Current employees are more likely to be candid – because they may someday end up working alongside this candidate. Current employees are much more willing to give direct and candid feedback covering what they know about the candidate. 
  • Current employees are more available to provide in-depth feedback – because they currently work for you. Each employee reference will be able to spend more time providing feedback on the candidate.


BEST PRACTICE #2 – “The Best Fonts” Produce The Highest Emotional Response Rates

In today’s tight job market, it’s often a struggle to get and maintain the attention of top applicants and candidates. To improve your response rate, you will need to identify every feature in your advertising and communications that make a difference. Most are surprised to learn what recent research from Monotype has revealed. The type of font you utilize in your messages can result in an up to 13% improvement in your response rate.

The goal of this “best font” practice – is to increase the applicant’s response rate. Currently, everyone is striving to reduce the number of candidates that ghost employers. Identifying “the best font” makes your messages more impactful.

Key features of the “use the best font” practice include:

  • Using the appropriate fonts will make your message stand out – in a side-by-side comparison, the use of “the right font” can make a message memorable. For example, when testers were shown a full sentence in Gilroy font, they reported that “it stood out from the competitors by 12% more” compared to the same message in either FS Jack or Cotford fonts.
  • Some fonts have a higher emotional response rate – Monotype also reports beyond higher response rates. Using the best fonts can also leave the reader feeling that the message sender was more sincere, memorable, trustworthy, honest, or confident.
  • Some fonts are less effective with older people – font testing has also revealed that fonts like Garamond EB and Montserrat have less impact on older people because they are harder to read.


PRACTICE #3 – A Warm-Up Process For Practicing Interview Questions

Most potential applicants (especially those who haven’t looked for a job in a while) routinely worry their rustiness will negatively impact their performance on interview questions. So as part of its Grow with Google and Career Certificates initiatives. Google has developed a new “warm-up website” that allows anyone to practice answering typical Google interview questions.

The goals of this “warm-up” best practice – the primary goal is to increase applications through practice. The candidates will become more confident and comfortable with Google’s interview process. A secondary goal is to demonstrate that Google stands alone because it has empathy for potential applicants. 

Key features of this best practice include:

  • It provides the opportunity to know and answer typical Google interview questions – website visitors have the opportunity first to know and then to answer numerous typical Google interview questions. The available ones cover three broad areas: background, situational, and technical questions. For example, the site gives you an opportunity to answer the question, “Please tell me why you would be a good fit for this role?”
  • A “talking point” feature – this program feature analyzes your answer. And then, it identifies the key content groups you covered in that answer. Including your skills, experience, and your lessons learned. By knowing the content areas that the candidate covered or did not cover. A potential candidate can easily see where their answer could improve in the three content areas of a good answer.
  • It identifies which job-related terms were used – this feature makes potential applicants aware of all of the job-related terms they used during each interview answer.
  • A “most used words” feature – the program identifies words that you have used multiple times in your answer so that you can substitute alternate words whenever a word or phrase may have been overused.
  • It provides a written transcript of your answer – after you verbally provide your recorded answer to each interview question. The program creates a written transcript of your answer so that you can later review it offline. 


If you can only do one thing – start by taking a small step. Switch the type of font used on your job postings over to the Gilroy font. And then informally track whether your response rates have measurably improved over your job postings using the old font.

Final Thoughts

The goal of any smart recruiting leader should be to understand the future direction of recruiting fully. Then, provide their organization’s recruiting function with a continuous competitive advantage. And continually tracking and adapting a few best practices in recruiting can help you reach those two goals. Fortunately, you can easily keep track of many of the bleeding edge recruiting best practices at top firms. Once a month, they are covered in Dr. Sullivan’s weekly talent newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

Author’s Note 

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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