Thursday, July 23, 2015

Taking Too Long to Hire?

You’ll lose good candidates

It’s now taking longer than ever for employers to wind their way through their own hiring processes. Recent reports from both Glassdoor and dhi hiring indicators are showing the average time to hire is now at more than 4 weeks. While a common cliché of "hire slow, fire fast" can be valid, taking too long has its downside, as well.

It look an average of 28 working days to hire in May; an increase of 3.3 days over last year. Some industries showed an even higher average - health services jobs average 42.3 days and financial services jobs average 41.2 days.

Taking a look at a survey done by MRI Network shows some very interesting data (in several areas) about obstacles to hiring, but specifically related to time to hire, and what may cause a candidate to either drop out of contention or decline an offer.

Some factors that impact time to hire are outside of the employers’ control – but the number and type of job interview screening methods and the application process chosen by companies are within their control.

What contributes to too-slow hiring? Let’s look at several factors:

Annoying Application Processes: A cumbersome hiring process only serves to discourage a talented candidate from applying to your job. And while an extended hiring process causes the top candidates to withdraw, it also diminishes the quality of your overall talent pool.

If you utilize an ATS, make sure it doesn’t require the candidate to jump through hoops, or give her whole life history, just to apply. Do a test run as an applicant and see if your system frustrates or facilitates the process. Once applicants are actually in the system get them out and human-reviewed in a timely manner. Your ATS is supposed to be a tool to help you identify appropriate candidates, but only you can make the final choices. When you have an open position, if you’re taking several days to weeks to get qualified candidates out of your system, you’ve already added significant time to the process and may already have lost good candidates.

If you’re not using an ATS, the same principle applies. Review application material promptly and identify possible candidates. As importantly, don’t allow applications to sit on hiring manager’s desks for long – get them moving.

Know before you go: Figure out what you want in a candidate before you start interviewing, and know the job you want to fill. Trust me, your best candidates will quickly figure it out if you really have no idea what you want in a candidate and are just fishing; that’s not a real motivator to continue in the process. If you don’t know, or haven’t decided what the job really entails, it will take you much longer to find and decide on the right candidate – if you even can decide on one. In the meantime, anyone you have interviewed is probably already moving on.

Another item here is having all approvals to fill the position, and the salary range that will be offered, in place before you begin interviewing. Do not wait until you find the candidate you want before you get the necessary approval from whoever gives that approval. More wasted time while the candidate waits and possibly takes another offer.

Decide who will interview before you interview. Knowing this will also help you to limit the number of interviews a candidate is subjected to before a decision can be made. Ensure that all parties are available when needed (no one’s on vacation or business travel).

Avoid decision paralysis: One reason companies are taking so long to hire today is they don’t want to make a mistake; they don’t want to take a big chance and have it not work out. The problem is that by being so conservative, they are pushing away people who could be great and then settling for people who might not stick around that long. This goes straight to the number of interviews a candidate has to navigate to get your offer. Is it really necessary to have 4 or 5 interviews, a panel interview, and a group presentation? I often think that the real reason some companies do this is because no one is willing to make a decision, so it’s hiring by committee. This rarely works out well. It’s also really annoying to most applicants, especially if it becomes obvious that no new information is being given or received in these multiple encounters. Make the decision based on good interviewing practices, not the sheer number of people involved in interviewing.

Forget the "perfect fit" fallacy. You’re not going to find perfection, it doesn’t exist. Refer to my above comments about knowing what you want before you start. That’s important, but don’t create a long list of must-haves that you’ll never find in one person.

Close the deal. Finally found the one? Make the offer. Are you open to negotiation? If yes, don’t draw out that process, either. It shouldn’t take long on your end to decide if the figure a candidate wants is within your range – and I’m talking hours here – not days. Again, make sure the person able to make this decision is available and get it done.

If you require background checks, drug screens and the like, get them scheduled quickly. Yes, it may take a day or more for the candidate to fit these into his/her schedule, but that’s expected and outside of your control. You have control to get the background screening done (if your vendor is taking too long – change vendors). Keep the candidate in the loop during this process; maintain contact so he knows what’s happening along the way.

The bottom line is that unless you’re a government entity or are hiring in a highly technical field (and I doubt that really makes a huge difference) if it takes four to six weeks or more from the first interview to the offer, you’re undoubtedly losing your best candidates. If you commit to the process and allocate resources properly, you can get this done in a more reasonable time frame and retain the pool of quality candidates.

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