Agile development is an iterative approach that builds software incrementally and collaboratively rather than trying to deliver a single “perfect” product all at once. Rather than following a static plan, agile dynamically responds to change. As an IT recruiter, familiarity with agile is an essential requirement for many of the hires I place. It’s also the methodology that my recruiting team uses to find these hires.

Agile leads to better hires faster by addressing three common recruitment challenges. Here’s how:

Challenge: Job descriptions that emphasize skills over objectives.

Solution: Define performance objectives and employee value position.

A laundry list of desired skills nearly always backfires. It deters qualified candidates who worry they aren’t the perfect fit and may increase the number of unqualified candidates who apply.

My team works with clients to create a list of performance objectives rather than desired skills or experience. We ask, “What does the person in the job need to do to be successful?” Once we have several objectives and tasks, we then ask, “Why would a top person want this job?” This reason is the employee value proposition or EVP, and we use this to pitch prospective hires on why they should consider this opportunity.

Challenge: Hiring for a newly created position.

Solution: Evaluate one candidate at a time and refine requirements after each interview.

In software development, agile prioritizes incremental progress rather than a perfect product. A similar approach is helpful when companies are hiring for a newly created role. Even when companies think they know what they need, the desired skills and experience may change as stakeholders interview candidates. For this reason, we don’t send a lengthy candidate list and hope someone sticks.

Instead, we present a single candidate that most closely matches what the hiring manager has requested. After this initial interview, we debrief the hiring manager, refine the job description (if needed), and present a second candidate that most closely matches this new description. Doing this allows us to move forward faster and ensures everyone is on the same page at each step in the process.

Challenge: Process delays cause companies to miss out on preferred candidates.

Solution: Focus on one candidate at a time for faster hiring consensus.

Agile uses short projects or “sprints” to validate a task and achieve stakeholder agreement before moving on to the next step. By keeping the focus on one candidate at a time, stakeholders decide very quickly whether this candidate will be advancing to the next stage of the hiring process. There’s no risk of being overwhelmed by a lengthy candidate list.

If a company is slow to respond, we flag this company as “at risk” for losing the candidate and reach out immediately. In fact, I keep a Kanban board on the wall of my office, so I instantly know where every candidate is in the interview process for every company at any given point in time. It’s a powerful visual reminder that delays can cost jobs!

In a perfect world, companies would always have a high-quality candidate pool and internal stakeholder alignment, ensuring accurate interviews and a rapid hiring process. By applying the principles of Agile to recruiting, this hiring utopia may not be that far off.

Have you applied agile to your hiring process? I invite you to share your experiences in the comments below.