Regardless of what the job market is like at any particular moment, you can assume that top talent will be in high demand. Unfortunately, the hiring process takes time, so you want to make sure that you are keeping your best candidates engaged so that you are able to ensure that you are extending an offer to the best possible fit.

When you have a job market that is oversaturated with open positions and with fewer qualified applicants, it is likely that the candidates you are interested in may be entertaining multiple offers. This is a particularly difficult situation for hiring managers to be in. On one hand, you want to move quickly so as not to miss out on a good opportunity. But, on the other hand, you also want to make sure that you do your due diligence to ensure you pick a great fit.

Long story short? You need to effectively keep candidates that you are considering actively engaged so that you have time to make the best decision for your company.

It is important to remember that the hiring process is a two-way street. This is a time when both parties are trying to determine whether this partnership would be a good fit, both in the short and the long-term. A really effective way to aid this decision is to incorporate a number of “assignments” at varying stages of the interviewing process. This is helpful for the hiring team because it will give you a good sense of how the candidates think and problem solve. It is also helpful for the applicants because it can give them a sense of the company’s culture and expectations.

Giving candidates assignments throughout the hiring process is a good way to keep potential hires engaged. This is important if you anticipate needing a few weeks (or longer) to make a decision. It is also a good way to direct the interview and ensure that it is a fruitful discussion.

Ideally, you will give the candidate their first assignment prior to the initial interview. This can help you weed out individuals that would not be a good fit for your organization or the open position. Before each round of interviews, come up with a couple of questions – or even a case study – that the candidate can prepare beforehand.

Of course, it is important to see how individuals think on their feet with unexpected interview questions, but many real-life assignments also require lots of time thinking and research before coming to a strong conclusion. This helps ensure that the interview process does not just cater to one type of learner.

Having “homework assignments” that precedes interviews also helps to ensure that the individual is truly interested in the position, and dedicated to the process. This allows you to weed out the candidates that just look good on paper, from those who will actually put in the time and effort required of the position.