For hiring managers, deciding “when and if” to extend the job offer after a series of candidate interviews can be an excruciating exercise. If you’ve ever hired the wrong candidate before, you may want to take your time so you can be confident in your decision. But waiting too long to hire can leave you lamenting over the one that got away, especially in today’s employment market.
Talented candidates are in high demand and short supply. Obviously, the longer your hiring process goes on, the greater the chance is that you may lose that quality candidate.
In today’s talent market, you’d expect most employers to act faster, not slower, to lock-in the best candidates. But apparently, that’s not the case. Longer interview cycles, as well as hiring cycles overall, continue to trend up.
A recent study from the employment site Glassdoor.com found that the average interview process in the U.S. is now 23.8 days, nearly double the 12.6 days in 2010. And it can be much longer, depending on the part of the country, the industry or even the job the candidate is interviewing for.
Among U.S. cities, for example, the slowest hiring processes are found in Washington, D.C. (33.2 days), home of many federal government agencies. The fastest are found in Kansas City, Kansas (16.9 days), a hub for rail transportation, manufacturing and distribution.
Hiring timelines also varied according to job type and industry. The study showed hiring decisions for entry-level jobs like retail sales clerks and security guards take less than a week, while the process for senior-level execs typically drags on for two months or more. Even roles that are “hot” on most company’s lists typically have a long interview process. If you’re a business systems analyst, for example, you might end up overanalyzing your time with the hiring manager during your wait, which is a miserable 44.8 days on average.
What do candidates think about all this?
Well, they’re about as thrilled as you might expect. A study from Robert Half revealed that more than 57 percent of the 1,000 U.S. workers polled cite “waiting to see if they got the job” as the most irritating part of the job search process. When forced to endure a lengthy hiring process, nearly 40 percent of job seekers lose interest in the position and pursue other opportunities, and 18 percent decide to stay put in their current job.
In addition, more than 30 percent of candidates surveyed said a drawn-out process makes them question whether the employer is good at making decisions in other areas.
Obviously, communication and speed are important to keep top talent engaged during the process. To keep it moving along at a pace that’s both effective and efficient, keep the following tips in mind:
Make it easy to schedule an interview with you
If you’re forcing candidates to go back and forth with you for weeks just to get a first interview on the books, don’t be shocked when they announce that they don’t want to continue with the process.
With all of the interview scheduling software available, it’s easier than ever to get interviews set up. And, while it’s easy to understand how often your day-to-day duties could get in the way of communicating with candidates in a timely manner, there are options. Smart organizations take this important part of the candidate experience very seriously, dedicating staff to initiating and maintaining candidate communication throughout the interview process.
Know what you’re looking for before you start looking
Perhaps you wrote a job description looking for a product marketing role, but only after you began interviewing did you realize that you actually have needs beyond that. This requires you to begin the process over, with new criteria in mind, thus slowing everything down.
Before you put together a job description or start bringing in candidates for interviews, take time to do a full analysis of the business’s needs so you can be certain about what you’re looking for in your hire. Get buy in from business stakeholders. Make sure you understand what responsibilities they will be accountable for both short- and long-term. Understand what skills will they need to have to help your business move forward.
Ditch the unrealistic expectations
While you want to ensure you’re picking the most qualified person to fill your open position, holding out for the perfect candidate can grind the process to a halt.
Even competent, experienced professionals are going to have flaws. Perhaps they have a knowledge gap in a certain area, or there’s a computer program you rely on heavily that they don’t know.
Most skills can be taught. Remember the saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good?” It applies to the hiring process, too. Don’t hold out for a flawless candidate who simply won’t come along and end up losing strong candidates in the meantime.
Don’t show up unprepared
If you’re walking into the conversation without having glanced over the individual’s resume and cover letter, it’s going to be difficult to have a focused, detailed conversation, as you’ll be spending a bulk of the discussion trying to garner basic background information about the professional sitting across from you. Good recruiters will have that detailed in the phone screens they have conducted so you can get to the information you, as a hiring manager, want to know about your candidate’s ability to do the job.
Take time to discuss with your recruiter exactly why they believe this candidate is a good fit. Go over the resume with them ahead of time. And don’t forget to bring your “sales hat” to the conversation; a great candidate will want to know about the role and how they will contribute to your success as a business unit. They will also want to know how your best employees have been successful in the roles that support you as a hiring manager.
Keep candidates in the loop
Make sure that you communicate at the onset with candidates what the hiring process looks like and the length of time it usually takes. Helping to manage a candidates’ expectations at the onset makes it much easier when you have to communicate that things taking a little longer than expected. Always ensure your recruiting team is reaching back to candidates to tell them the process has been delayed and making sure they are keeping the candidate engaged during the decision-making phase. It could be a make or break moment for them as far as their decision-making process is concerned.
There are many factors that weigh into a candidates decision-making process. But the one that has the most direct correlation with your ability to snag top talent is, unfortunately, the one we often overlook.
Timely and personable communications give the candidate an idea of how they’ll be treated as an employee. When communication is delayed or non-existent, you might just push the best candidates to stay exactly where they are or right into the arms of your competition.
Paying close attention to how you plan and deliver your interviews can go far in helping you identify issues that are causing your efforts to get bogged down. Modifying your approach in these five areas alone can make a huge difference in your results, saving you time and money, and make interviews much more enjoyable for yourself and job candidates alike.