4 practical ways to solve your decentralized hiring challenges in 2023

How to improve decentralized hiring processes | Sapia Ai interview software

Decentralized recruitment, while enabling larger companies to hire efficiently, suffers in a labor-short market.

Under ordinary circumstances – like, say, the world before COVID and the Great Resignation – it’s ideal to let local hiring managers build their own workforces. Generally speaking, the decentralized approach is better for productivity, candidate experience, and the overall satisfaction of hiring managers, who look favourably on the trust and autonomy they get from head office.

However, when good candidates are hard to come by, the dearth of talent puts stress on the joints of such a sprawling network. We hear this frequently from companies who come to us to help improve efficiency, diversity, and quality of hire.

Here are the common problems companies are having with decentralized hiring in 2022:

  • Hiring managers are frustrated, because they have a trickle of applicants and little control over employer branding and recruitment marketing.
  • Consistency is hampered by inconsistent processes and rogue hiring managers, who frequently abandon workflows and ATS protocols in order to acquire warm bodies by any means necessary.
  • Job advertising budgets are distributed unevenly, resulting in consternation for already-strained teams.
  • Diversity is put on the backburner, both because hiring managers have the final say, and because they have little-to-no accountability over decisions.
  • The company’s recruitment centre (i.e. head office) is unable to collect and analyze sufficient data to diagnose and fix recruitment problems across its decentralized network.
  • The company is using an ATS with which either some (or all) of hiring managers are unhappy. Head office may know this, but in any case, it decides that the process of researching, purchasing, and implementing a new ATS is not worth the pain.
  • A staunch desire to stick to the status quo, or ‘the way we’ve always done things’, because the company assumes that this period of hiring difficulty will soon pass.

These challenges (and others) have effected a drop in confidence in the way companies interview and process candidates. An Aptitude Research and Sapia.ai report from earlier this year found that 33% of companies aren’t confident in the way they interview, and 50% have lost talent due to poor processes. Meanwhile, 22% of the average talent pool is drained at the application stage.

Statistically speaking, roughly one in five people, at minimum, are bailing out of your application process at the very beginning.

How to improve efficiencies across a strained decentralized hiring network

As with many things in business, the answer to alleviating organizational pain lies in small, iterative improvements. Our recommendations do not include haphazard technological upgrades, nor do we advocate for widespread process changes. These will more than likely cause your decentralized hiring network to fall apart.

Here are some good places to start.

Look at removing time-wasting entry barriers, like resumes and cover letters

This is particularly important for the retail and hospitality industries, but certainly applies to any companies that hire entry-level team members at volume. Given the average level of job experience at this level of employment, most resumes and cover letters aren’t useful in gauging candidate quality. On the contrary – they take up precious hiring manager hours, are cumbersome for candidates to write, and are the main cause of the 22-24% candidate drop out rate we mentioned above. That’s not even accounting for the fact that anywhere between 60-80% of resumes contain falsifications.

Implement a simple, standardized process for capturing a candidate experience NPS baseline

Decentralization, almost by definition, makes capturing useful information difficult. But if you use an ATS as a tool for centralization, consider adding a candidate NPS measurement step to your application process. It can be as simple as a Net Promoter Score scale (1 to 10). If you hire at volume across multiple localities or regions, asking this one simple question can help you produce meaningful insights about how candidates find your process. What gets measured, gets managed, and though there are many other data points you might want to collect, this is a good (and relatively easy) place to start. If you’re keen to learn more about this, check out our podcast episode on candidate experience with Lars van Wieren, CEO at Starred.

Speak to your hiring managers regularly

Quantitative data is gold, but qualitative data is platinum. Make a habit of interviewing (not surveying, interviewing) your hiring managers on the ground. You’ll uncover invaluable insights that may enable you to make fast changes at scale. We help our clients collect qualitative feedback from hiring managers as a matter of course, leading to increases in productivity and hiring manager satisfaction.

Here are some useful questions to ask your hiring managers:

  • Take me through how you run your local (e.g. instore) hiring process, from start to finish.
  • Explain your process for interviewing candidates.
  • Where do you think you waste the most time?
  • What doesn’t work as well as it should?
  • What kinds of candidates are you seeing, and how would you rate the overall quality?
  • How might we support you in hiring more effectively?

This kind of bottom-up research aims to understand how hiring managers are actually behaving and interacting with systems. Some may be breaking from established protocols, but if you ask them why and how, you might uncover tactics and efficiencies that can be brought back to the rest of the organization, thereby improving the way all hiring managers operate. Two adages apply here: ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, and ‘People will always find the path of least resistance’.

This fact-finding method is better than surveys because surveys impose a limited scope in which potential problem areas are preset. “We’re asking you about these things,” you’re saying, “and therefore, we’re suggesting they’re most important.” As a result, other problems and possible solutions are likely to be excluded from discovery. You’ll always learn more by having real conversations, because they can go in any conceivable direction.

Look for novel ways to encourage applications from otherwise passive candidates

Again, incredibly useful for retail, but applicable in a wide range of industries and contexts. Think about the universal touchpoints you have with customers (a.k.a candidates) across your decentralized network. In retail, some good examples might be your receipts and carry bags. These provide you invaluable real estate to advertise your jobs and employer brand. Consider putting a URL or QR code on these assets, and you might drastically increase the amount of people who know about and apply for the jobs you advertise. This tactic has the added benefit of capitalizing on active and loyal customers; after all, if they’re buying from you, they’re a prime target for recruitment marketing.

Here’s a cool example of how we help our clients advertise their jobs in places their customers can easily see.

The best part about this manner of advertising? You already own the space, and the design can be centralized and rolled out at scale.


We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Sapia’s Ai Smart Interviewer is a dynamite solution for the inevitable pain points of decentralised recruitment. Our technology can be rolled out across your entire company, and takes care of the application, screening, interviewing, and assessment stages of your process.

Hiring managers save time – as much as 1,600 hours per month, for some of our customers – but they still get the option to approve and interact with short-listed candidates. Better still, our platform captures vital data on diversity and candidate experience, enabling you to see exactly how your network is performing, individually and collectively.

Best of all, Sapia tech integrates directly with the leading ATS platforms, and can be rolled out in as little as four weeks.

Woolworths Group, Australia’s largest private employer, uses Sapia to hire more than 50,000 candidates per year, nationwide. To see how they flourish in a labor-short market, check out our case study here.


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