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Understand the hiring cycle - and ace it

There are three distinct stages in a hiring cycle.

It starts with a screening where an evaluation is done of a candidate’s fitment with the minimal experience & work background required for the role and intent to take the job if offered.

The ability to get the job done and well is the central theme of the second stage discussions. This is the time when the hiring manager and her/his group will get actively engaged.

The final stage is a HR evaluation. At this time the candidate’s fitment into the company culture, potential for growth, and longevity in employment are some of the attributes being gauged.

And through each stage and discussion, candidates are being evaluated on their attitude, present ability and engagement.

Understand the focus of each discussion in the hiring cycle, prepare for it, and ace it.

1. The screening stage –With the recruitment team.

Do you have relevant work experience?

The screening stage starts with recruiters searching through public and company databases to identify potential candidates with work experience required for the job. This leads to a shortlist of candidates to have conversations with. (You might also want to read - Improve your odds of finding a job).

A key agenda in the first conversation is to validate the relevant past experiences & credentials.

Highlight relevant expertise & past experiences as well as successes & outcomes which you have had in past roles which are similar to and hence replicable in this new role

Are you affordable?

Every position has a cost budget, associated title & benefits, and a defined place in the hierarchy.

This will be discussed early in the hiring cycle to filter down those candidates whose expectations are in alignment with what the role offers.

Understand the financials, title & reporting at the start of the hiring cycle. While there may be some latitude in the compensation & title, reporting relationships & place in the organization hierarchy have limited flexibility. Decide if they are in line with what you are looking for before committing yourself to further discussions.

Are you authentic about wanting the job?

Expect the question – why are you looking for a job, and why this job?

In Valenco’s annual job change survey, a richer role, out of work, and better compensation, company, & supervisor were cited as the top 5 reasons for changing a role. (Reference - Intent to change jobs survey 2020)

Whether it is one of these, or something else (e.g. change of location), be clear why you are seeking a job change, and why the job and organization you are applying to are a good fit.

2. The fitment stage – With the hiring manager

Can you do the job?

This is the most important stage in the evaluation process. The organization needs someone to do a certain task and well.

Can you do it?

Gather your thoughts around how you will be productive in the job & why.

  • Understanding of the role.

  • The likely measures of success.

  • Your approach to achieve these success measures

  • How would you start on that path, what will be the first set of actions you will take?

  • Your process for getting feedback and making course adjustments

  • Evidence from past positions to demonstrate success in a similar role

These will help you make a case on why you are a good hire for the job.

Write down your talking points under each of the above bullets. Even the best of us forget. Having it written down and referenceable during a conversation ensures that all bases are covered.

This effort & preparation also demonstrates two attributes which are rated as among the highest factors in ensuring success at work - seriousness of purpose and willingness to put in effort to achieve a goal (in this case getting hired).

Since you are most likely speaking with the hiring manager or someone who is in a similar role, ask for input and feedback on the job and how to be successful in it. She/he will have insights on the position, its KRA’s, expected results, and what actions are facilitative of success. Solicit that input. It makes the conversation interactive, gets the interviewer more engaged, and maybe even become your coach and ally. It also gets you information to judge if it’s the right role for you, and if yes, what actions you would need to take to be successful in it.

3. Evaluation of potential – With the HR team

  • Will you be committed to the role & organization?

  • Do you have growth potential?

While these are hard to gauge in the few interactions during a hiring process, HR teams will try deriving these while speaking with candidates and from their employment history.

  • Commitment and consistency of performance - How long has the individual been in prior jobs or companies?

  • Performer – Recognitions and awards in prior jobs

  • Group or individual performer - Team awards or individual performance awards.

  • Growth potential - Did she/he take on greater responsibility or different job types and succeeded in them?

  • Adaptability - Was she/he been mobile and worked in different locations and with different managers and teams?

Many firms also tend to use psychometric tests to help them assess these attributes.

4. Do you have the right attitude and presence? – In all discussions during the hiring cycle.

In every interaction through the hiring cycle, interviewers are observing present ability, engagement, communication, conversational impact, promptness, & quality of deliverables of candidates.

These observations & experiences are used as predictors of how you will behave on the job.

Responds on time, is a good listener, gives relevant replies, well dressed, can handle stressful questioning……you’re getting there.

Takes up all the airtime, goes off on a tangent, resume & written articulation is verbose and unclear, walked into the interview inappropriately dressed, gets emotional when under stress…..uh oh.

In closing

A hiring cycle has three distinct stages - the initial screen, the fitment stage, and finally the evaluation of potential and cultural fitment.

In each stage an evaluation is being made of certain attributes of the candidate’s suitability for the role and intent to work and grow with the hiring organization. The three stages and the main themes likely to be discussed during each are summarized in the table below

Knowing that these are the key themes for each discussion stage and preparing in advance will improve the odds of acing the interviews.

Happy hunting!

If you are in an interview cycle already or likely to be, you can use the Valenco Interview Workflow to track your preparation. Click here

Similar notes on the hiring processes and career planning are posted on


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