Hiring Process

9 ways to avoid a long recruitment process

Written by Andrew Skelton on April 9, 2019

We notice a huge variation in timescales on making hiring decisions amongst our clients. Some companies will offer a candidate after 2 weeks, some will take 3 months, others even longer!

Taking too long to make a decision can leave your vacancy unfilled and will see you losing out on some high-quality candidates who aren’t prepared to wait around. So, what gives? Why don’t we have consistency in timescales on commitment-to-hiring? After much thought, we have realised that this is far easier for a recruitment firm to dissect (as we make hundreds of placements) than it is for a Hiring Manager who may only make a few hires over their entire career.

Here are 9 ways to make sure you don’t fall in to the ‘decision paralysis’ trap of a long recruitment process, and to make sure you get the best talent by not falling behind, and by not being too slow.

Why do some hiring managers take so long?

Candidates who are looking for a new job want a quick decision – because they want a new job! On the other hand, the hiring company will want to make sure they’re making the right choice; maybe they’ve been burnt in the past, but whatever the reason, being too slow can cost you.

This might leave you feeling confused around how to structure your hiring process, but fear not – here are some ways you can be sure you are ticking all the boxes, and not deliberating unnecessarily.

1.      Clearly define the hiring need.

Some companies tell us “show us what you have and we can base the position on how the market looks.” Candidates will not want to be sent to a position which hasn’t been defined – they are likely to be acting confidentially if they’re still in work. Without a defined need, you are already losing out on strong talent.

2.      Be DETAILED in your job description.

We often see vague/generic job descriptions that could mean just about anything. Be specific, and be honest. Make sure the JD includes ALL of the duties and responsibilities of the role (including the tedious tasks!), and how the future of the position may change. Don’t over-promise on career progression opportunities – that will only leave you with a vacant position after the candidate realises what has happened. Be clear on educational requirements, certifications, memberships, and so on. The more detailed the JD, the more rigorous the screening will be at this stage, making your final decision easier (because it will contain less candidates).

3.      Know your budget.

Has a recruiter ever said to you “would you consider this candidate who would require X $ above the salary, would you stretch your banding to get a superstar like this in to the frame?” And, have you every hastily said yes? Don’t be hasty on this – interviewing candidates out of your budget will only unrealistically raise your expectations around the quality of candidate you can get and could get you in to trouble if you haven’t cleared this with the person responsible for the budget.

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4.      Commit to a (tight) timeline.

Scheduling all of your first stage interviews over a 4-week period isn’t good enough. If you decide to progress with the candidates at the front end of this 4-week window when arranging 2nd stages, many of those candidates will have lost interest over 4 weeks… Block out an entire day to interview for this position and then stick to it. If you are working with a (good) recruiter, they will do everything they can to make sure the candidates attend on that day.

Beyond this, set deadlines on 2nd stages, offer-extension, and start date. If you do not set this deadlines, there is no urgency on completion, and candidates will look elsewhere.

5.      Be realistic.

It should go without saying that you shouldn’t be creating a ‘unicorn job.’ Make sure the required qualifications & experience versus salary are realistic. Write down a list of everything you want the successful candidate to have, and then pick your top 5 – these are ‘must haves’ and the other items on the list are ‘nice to haves.’

These are your measurement criteria. Measure each candidates on your must-haves and nice-to-haves – this gives a relevant and structured bench-marking process that you can use to reliably rank your candidates. This may not be your final ranking, but it gives a very strong starting point.

6.      Share your vision with all stakeholders.

Are you using an external recruiter on your search? Or, perhaps an internal Talent Acquisition team? Make sure they know the milestones you need to hit, when you need to hit them, and what your bench-marking criteria are. If everybody isn’t on the same page – at best, the important messages will be diluted, and at worst, the right candidates will slip through the net.

7.      Check references!

A lot of companies will hire a candidate without taking references. Being quick is important, but verification is more important. You don’t want the hire to haunt you for years! Harrison Frazer usually takes 1-2 days to collect references, so this shouldn’t cause any real delays.

8.      Quick follow-ups and keep everybody warm.

Make sure you are providing feedback to each candidate in the process, at all stages of the process. This will keep your candidates informed, interested, and engaged, whilst allowing you to keep open the dialogue so that you find out if any candidates drop out of the process, or accept an offer elsewhere (making sure your pipeline is accurate and up to date – poor information will lead to poor decisions!). What’s more, is that a candidate will pick your opportunity over your competitor’s if the only difference in the process was speed of follow-ups; it tells them that you care.

9.      Do not deliberate. DECIDE!

Don’t sit there thinking what the best way to offer the candidate is, or when the best time is. The best time to offer the position to a candidate is the moment you have made your decision. There is no need to wait for reference checks – you can always make a verbal offer, pending reference checks coming back positive. This feeds back in to point 7 – every minute you delay could result in your competitor pipping you at the post.

If you had a very tough decision between two strong candidates who could both do the job well, don’t reject the candidate you aren’t offering straight away. Leave it a couple of days in case your chosen candidate rejects the offer. Otherwise, you are back to square one if your chosen candidate doesn’t accept the job!

No regrets.

What is the take-home message here? Don’t let the fear of regret slow down your recruitment process. Stick to your timescales, be thorough (and realistic!) in what you’re looking for, have a strict set of bench-marking criteria to rank your candidates, follow up proactively, and be decisive! 

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