Candidate Benchmarking 101: How it Improves Your Hiring Process

Benchmarking sounds a lot more like something accountants use graphs for but it is a well-known practice in recruitment.

It helps to streamline the hiring process and keep those in the decision-making seats focused on their ideal candidate.

But how you go about it, and where it fits into your hiring process is a little different to what you might think.


So what is benchmarking exactly?


Benchmarking is the process of creating the profile of the ideal candidate for a position and then measuring all candidates against that profile.

It’s most commonly used in the interview process.

It starts with companies selecting the most important requirements for a candidate to possess, effectively setting the standard for the calibre of the candidate required to successfully perform the tasks the position requires. Sounds simple right? Well, not always.

That’s because as the hiring manager, you might not even be clear about exactly what you want and need, and what you’re willing to flex on until you’re in the middle of the interviewing process.


How we benchmark at Move


At Move, we do the benchmarking session a little while after we’ve helped to create the job specs for our clients, and sometimes even after we’ve posted the jobs and had a couple of CVs roll in.

Then, we book a benchmarking deep dive with our client for each role that we’re hiring for.

The benchmarking session is an opportunity to get into the nitty-gritty of the role ask questions that may come up just to make sure that we’re aligned with the hiring managers and we know exactly what they’re looking for.

It’s also an opportunity for the hiring managers to clarify internally what they’re looking for. Sometimes, the precise traits and characteristics they’re seeking might not be reflected on the job spec or essential requirements or might be too nuanced to put down on paper the first time a job spec is created. Essentially, we iron out any disconnected areas and get on the same page.

We typically conduct the benchmarking session with at least two people, so a hiring manager and then an incumbent, or someone who’s currently in the role we’re hiring for or will be working closely with the person doing the role.

The aim of this session is to create a recruiting playbook that can be scaled across our entire team.

This means that anyone in our team can jump in and immediately understand the role and, what our client is looking for and who the ideal candidate is, who an acceptable candidate is, and importantly, what they’re not looking for.


3 Steps to benchmarking


The benchmarking itself is broken down into three different parts.

In the first part, we ask general questions about the role, how it fits into the business, and get a good feel for it. We also flag any descriptions that seem vague or misleading.

Then we do a dive into the job spec and make sure we fully understand it so that we communicate everything in the spec correctly to candidates.

The last part, which is my favourite part of the benchmarking, is where we find a few profiles before the benchmarking session. During the benchmarking session, we present some LinkedIn or anonymous profiles that we run clients through. We pick two who we think closely match the job, a couple who might be medium level in terms of suitability, and one that does not suit the role at all.
Lastly, we have the hiring manager and the incumbent go through those profiles and tell us if anything jumps out at them, what they like, what they don’t like, and the questions they’d be asking those candidates in order to help them make a decision.

The recruiting playbook


The benchmarking session forms the basis of the recruiting playbook we make for ourselves. That’s broken down into essential screening criteria, versus nice to have, as well as value propositions that we can use in our messaging to candidates, and when we’re on the phone, ensuring we are communicating the best parts of the role.


We also have screening questions. These exist to make sure that there is a standardized process for all the candidates and that everything we do is as fair and unbiased as possible.


The benefits of benchmarking


We benchmark in an attempt to mitigate the risk of an unsuccessful hire for both parties as well as to cut down the candidate pool. Essentially, we’d rather get it wrong at the beginning with some mock profiles and, then run hard once we’re all on the same page, saving ourselves and our clients time, and ensuring we find the best candidate for the role.


Understanding what someone needs to succeed in a position, and being able to compare candidates against those job requirements, maybe something that you already do, but a more standardized approach can drastically improve your hiring outcomes.

If you’d like help with benchmarking your next hire, get in touch.

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