Speed is of the essence in recruitment today. If you want to recruit top candidates, you need to move fast. Since demand for talented professionals is high, and the talent pool is not exactly brimming, a lengthy interview and recruitment process could be having a negative impact on your ability to attract the best talent.
In recent years there has been a trend towards longer recruitment processes. On average, from a candidate applying for a role to starting a new job, we’re seeing it taking in excess of 3 months – depending on how many hoops they have to jump through!
However, we’re also seeing candidates getting other offers during this time, and employers are missing out on securing excellent employees.
Factor in the time between receiving an application and contacting that candidate; then the time between that first direct contact and a telephone interview; next how long it takes between a telephone interview and an in-person interview; then second interviews; and finally, the time between the second (or third) interview and an offer being put on the table; you can see there are numerous opportunities for the candidate to be snapped up by a competitor.
Often it takes longer than 3 months. Staff absences, key decision-makers on holiday, or interviews being delayed because of other workloads all contribute to lengthy recruitment cycles. The more people involved, the more likely it is that someone is unavailable and holds things up.
We also find that often when a company is recruiting to fill a vacant role, the incumbent employee has actually left before a replacement is found – and that has a knock-on effect on productivity and performance within their department. It can also impact the on-boarding process, as there is no hand over period.
In this situation we often find companies employing temporary or interim workers to meet staffing shortfalls. This can be an effective strategy if you are not able to recruit the right people – recruitment agencies like Howett Thorpe can advise you on how to go about this.
How to speed recruitment up
As you can see, there is an opportunity to compete for top candidates, especially when your competitors have lengthy recruitment processes, by speeding up your recruitment process. Shaving off a few days between different steps, for example by reviewing applications and contacting candidates within one week instead of two, could make all the difference.
However, there are other ways to speed the process up, as outlined below:
Prioritise your recruitment process: where possible try to time recruitment to ensure you can give it your full attention. So avoid busy times like year-end, quarterly reporting or over the summer when decision–makers are on holiday.
Have clarity on the role: a common issue that results in a protracted recruitment process is when a company isn’t 100% clear on what the role is. This means it becomes harder to identify the right candidates and therefore the initial long list can be very long.
Be realistic: of course you want to recruit a top candidate, but that may not be realistic for your role. Are you offering an opportunity that you can reasonably expect the best talent in the market to apply for? Or is your role more attractive to junior or intermediate level employers, rather than highly experienced senior staff? Aim to recruit the best talent for the role.
Keep shortlists short: the more candidates you have in the recruitment process, the longer it will take. Also, too many candidates cause confusion and make it difficult to get a consensus of opinion from decision-makers.
Manage expectations: make sure candidates know when they should hear from you and what the next steps are. They’re more likely to stay with you through your hiring process if they know what to expect.
Keep them interested: candidates who think they stand a chance of being offered the role are more likely to put their job search on hold and focus on your opportunity. If they’re not sure if you’re interested, they’ll be more open to an approach from a competitor. Therefore, it’s really important to keep them interested by providing feedback at every stage of the process. If you like them, let them know that they’re a strong contender.
With the tips above you should be able to attract and retain better candidates through your recruitment; as well as reducing lengthy processes by focusing time and effort on fewer but higher quality candidates.
By Greg Thorpe, managing director of Howett Thorpe
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