Design Thinking in Recruitment

[Last updated – 28th March, 2019]

Design thinking has now become another corporate buzzword. With big names like Apple, Microsoft and IBM recruiting in-house design thinking teams to unearth innovation and create possible solutions for human-centric problems, at Xobin, we wanted to unravel and present to our customers as to how design thinking in recruitment could bring in “value proposition” to the table.

So, What is design thinking?

Simply put, design thinking is a method of solving complex problems using a structured innovative process aimed at providing solutions to human-centric problems. First off, let’s pen down the process involved in design thinking and see how we could relate it to recruitment.

Design Thinking in Recruitment

Major problems faced by recruiters

We leveraged LinkedIn to connect with over 1800 Recruiters across 25 countries and asked precise questions on the recruiting challenges faced by their organizations. We found that while on one hand, three-quarters find it cumbersome to find relevant candidates, on the other hand, hiring managers claim that 40 per cent of the new hires leave the organization within 6 months on joining. Hence we attempted to chalk-out the major problems faced by the employers.


1. Attracting the Right People

Attracting Candidates Using Design ThinkingAs already stated earlier, a vast number of recruiters and hiring managers are not able to find relevant candidates. Inefficient recruitment outreach, unattractive job description and ignoring passive candidates are the main aspects considered as bottle-neck for attracting the right candidates.

Design Solution #1- Inbound Recruitment Marketing

Harness Inbound recruitment marketing. Just a “we are hiring” post on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter is not sufficient. In addition to the careers page on the website, design an exclusive blog for recruitment and write content as to how it would be like to work in your organization. A professional video citing your gender diversity and cultural diversity will attract a wider range of applicants. Now ask your existing employees to take out to the social media and do the selling.

Design Solution #2- Organizing Recruitment Events

With millennials dominating the workplace, hiring managers are expected to perform marketing stunts. Recruitment has now become more of a marketing event. Hence, organizations should proactively participate in job fairs and work on employer branding. Sponsor business meetups at your organizations by inviting eminent speakers, business giants to share their knowledge and deliver business insights and ask your target candidates to attend such events at your organization. This is one way in which the senior management of the organization can get to interact with the candidates.

Design Solution #3- Defining a Candidate Persona

Create a realistic, attractive job description and a well-defined candidate persona. At times, it may be tempting for the hiring managers to go overboard and list out too many skills expected out of the candidate. But, this can greatly put off your candidate from applying. Instead, differentiate the requirements as ‘must to have’ and ‘ nice to have’ in your job ad. Talk to your existing top performing candidates to create a realistic candidate persona.

Design Solution #4- Employee Referral

Most of the qualified candidates for your open positions are already employed and are not actively looking for a switch.

Market an employee referral program and reward your existing employee for each qualified referral. An employee referral program is one of the most effective tools in your recruitment arsenal. Co-workers spread the word of mouth, bring in better quality candidates as they are already aware of the industry expectations. Not to mention the cherry on the cake, referred employees work at companies longer than non-referred employees.

Design Solution #5- Personalized Recruiting Email

Create a humble recruiting outreach by drafting a personalized recruiting email. This can bring in most of the passive candidates under your umbrella.


2. Poor Candidate Experience

Improve Candidate Experience Using Design ThinkingHow you treat your candidates during the course of the recruitment process is what is envisaged as a candidate experience. Just like how customer testimonials affect the buyers’ decisions, your job seekers judge your organization based on the interviewee’s reviews on social media and employee review platform like

A good candidate experience creates a positive image of the company. At the same time, a bad candidate experience can damage the reputation of your brand and your candidates may lose respect for you. The Job Application Process, the taken to respond and how you treat them during interviews greatly impact candidate experience.

Design Solution #1- Crisp application Process

Lengthy application process demanding minuscule information can demotivate your potential hires. Shorten the application process by presenting possible options like “Apply using Linkedin Profile”. Adopt a ‘mobile-friendly’ job application process. Acknowledge the candidates’ applications by sending out a confirmation email.

Design Solution #2- Timely response on the status
Leaving your candidates hanging for a response can put off candidate to take part in the further processes. Candidates expect companies to inform them about the status of the job application. Follow a 2 Day Rule!  Send a personalized response citing the status of selection or rejection within 2 days on receiving the job application. As a matter of fact, instant response from the recruiters implies that you value your candidates’ time. Those candidates who have not made the cut for this position may prove to be a perfect fit to some other position in your organization. Hence maintain a firm and friendly relationship with all the candidates.
Design Solution #3- Offer flexibility to the candidates

Your potential candidate feels inconvenient to drive across town during the workday for assessments and formal interviews and may prefer to opt out from the recruitment funnel. Adopt a flexible approach. Xobin helps you to send assessments to your candidates in the matter of a click.

Now your candidates can up the assessment from anywhere. Skeptical about your candidates’ integrity on an online assessment?

We have AI enabled proctor at place to monitor the eye movements and web browser monitoring system to indicate when the candidates toggle between tabs.

After your candidates cut through the assessments, adopt a professional video interviewing tool. As organizations are looking for talent beyond their home countries, we need to have remote hiring options. An Online Video Interviewing tool offers great flexibility and seamless solution to the understating problem. Your candidates need not fret commuting for on-site interviews and also recruiters can break-out from the monotony of scheduling interviews.

Pro tip: Give a brief heads-up to your candidates before the interview with regards to the following information

  • How to prepare for the interview and what is expected out of the role
  • Number of interviews they are likely to meet with and who they are.
  • How long is the interview expected to take.

This helps the candidates to prepare ahead, thereby providing satisfaction to both recruiters and the candidates.


3. Recruiting people who don’t are fit your Organizational Culture

Many recruiters focus primarily on hiring those with specific talents, skills, and experience, and more often 'the culture-fit' always remains to be elephant in the room. Click To Tweet

Design Thinking- Organization cultural fitAn organization’s age, pace of growth, leadership style determine and define the organizational culture. Mismatch between candidates’ behavioural traits and your Organizational Culture will eventually take a toll on your employee turnover rate.


Design Solution #1- Set Reality checks in during the interview

Once your candidate aces through the technical and aptitude assessments, a culture fit interview should be made mandatory to understand if your candidate can sustain through tough times or quickly bail.

Design Solution #2- Psychometric Assessments

Adopting job specific psychometric assessments can help you to gain insights about your candidates’ habitual and behavioral traits. Psychometric assessments have questions that check the internal consistency of your candidates’ responses, thereby ensuring fairness in the tests.

4. Employee Turnover rate

Design Thinking- Employee TurnoverMany bosses wrongly believe that employees quit because they want more money. But here is a different story, a study shows that salary is not THE major reason for the people quitting their jobs. Employees state 3 major reasons for quiting their organization: Lack of growth, Lack of Work-Life Balance and Micromanaging.

Design Solution #1- Growth and Internal Job Posting

Employees measure appreciation not just in terms of monetary benefits but also with respect to growth, rewards and recognition.  Some may even seek for lateral growth within the organization. Implement internal job posting policies in your organzation.

Design Solution #2- Flexible work hours

The ultimate aim of any organization or a boss is to get the work done. If your organization follows a strict ’45 working hours per week’ schedule, break-out from the traditional ‘9 to 6’. Encourage your employees to work from home, provide compensation off for working overtime and work on flexible working strategies.

Design Solution #3- Freedom to take ownership and accountability

Managers should learn to refrain from being too bossy. Micromanagement leaves no room for innovative thinking. Make your employees feel truly invested in their jobs by giving them a sense of ownership and trusting them. Employees, voluntarily feel obliged to take more responsibility thereby staying with your organization for a longer period of time.


Concluding Thoughts . . .

Thus, we have presented various human-centric design thinking solutions to cap various talent acquisition problems. These solutions eventually will translate into a superior and robust talent acquisition strategy. On board those candidates who are culturally sound, value and align with the goals of your organization. Now, work on design thinking strategies for training and employee engagement.




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