Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Is Your Hiring Process Too Long?

Hiring can be a long process. You want to find the perfect candidate, not just the first person who applies. You also want to ensure their long-term success at your company, so you hold multiple interviews, set up different qualification tests, check references, and run background checks. Of course, you also want to let them get to know your company culture and make sure they think it's the right fit, too.

Across the board, the hiring process has gotten longer and longer. According to a report from Glassdoor, the average job interview process now takes 23 days, up from just under 20 days in 2009.

While applicants should expect some time to evaluate and review their candidacy, is there such a thing as too long of a hiring process? Here are some ways to determine if you are going overboard on the recruitment timeline.

Your candidates accept jobs at other companies before you can offer them a position.

A potential employee may be in different stages of the interviewing and hiring process at several companies at once. This is especially true of highly-qualified candidates who are serious about finding a new position. Top tier management candidates may only be on the job market for a few days before being offered a position, putting them in the awkward circumstance of deciding whether to accept the job offered or wait for your hiring process to run its course.

Think about this from your own position as a company. When you find a great candidate, you'd probably like to extend an offer as soon as possible. There may be little incentive to continue reviewing other applicants at that point. When a desirable candidate receives a quality offer, they are in a similar mindset and more likely to take the immediately available job rather than wait around for your (possible) offer. Although it's not uncommon for candidates to get other job offers while they are still interviewing with you, if you frequently have candidates drop out mid-process, you should review your timeline and compare it to other businesses in your industry.

In the long run, this means the best candidates may be grabbed up by your competition, leaving you with a subpar team. Statistics also show that, contrary to what many think, a longer hiring process results in less qualified or more mediocre candidates -- because top prospects are siphoned off by other job offers before they can be hired by />

Your job descriptions are unclear.

If you keep the same stale job listings up all the time in order to attract candidates under a generic job title, you're simply delaying the tough choices when it comes to selecting candidates. Open-ended job listings attract candidates who either desperately want to work for your company in any capacity or candidates who aren't especially qualified or experienced in specific roles. While these types of listings can work well for entry-level jobs, or might even inspire you to create a non-existent position within your organization, they do a poor job of recruiting top-level, experienced talent or filling specific holes in your team.

Being more specific with job postings will also keep you from needing to restructure and repost the job in the future. Candidates who see jobs constantly being reposted may be wary that your company either doesn't have a defined hiring strategy or is not serious about filling a position in a timely manner. Constantly running open-ended job postings makes it seem that you don't have a timeline for hiring, and most job seekers are interested in finding a new position as soon as possible.
If most of your current job listings are open-ended, change your strategy. Post updated, clear job descriptions that target candidates for the specific roles you need to fill, and only when that need arises.

You're waiting on confirmation to move ahead from accounting. Or legal. Or marketing. Or...

Many job seekers have stories of awkward situations they've encountered while going through an interview process. A common one that comes up is when a job is eliminated after a company advertises for it and begins the interview process.

Much like having evergreen or open-ended job listings, if you're not confirming the state of the job listing prior to posting, it draws out the job process and can paint your company in a negative light to applicants. Is the recruiting and human resources department even communicating with the departments its hiring for? At best, getting approval after-the-fact from various departments is time consuming and tedious, and only draws out the process, frustrating your candidate and increasing the likelihood they will take a position at a different company. Not confirming the scope of work for the position or the budget for salary only slows down your hiring process. It can also be frustrating for top candidates who are offered a position with a lower salary or different requirements than they were expecting.

Your process involves too many interviews or site visits.

When discussing the length of the hiring process, you must consider the literal length of the interviews. A good rule of thumb for a non-executive position is two or, at maximum, three on-site interviews. A phone screen prior to scheduling the first interview can also help narrow the candidate pool down to your top contenders, so you spend less time interviewing on site, moving the process forward more quickly.

If candidates need to meet with more than one person, try to schedule back-to-back sessions for the same day. It will take less time for both you and the candidate to go through one, 2-hour interview session than to have to come back on subsequent days, possibly taking off more time from their current job, for additional hour long meetings.

When administering tests and screenings to candidates, keep in mind that each test adds a significant amount of time. Over the past few years, the percentage of companies using background checks, drug tests, and personality questionnaires has increased substantially. Not only do these assessments represent a greater investment of time on behalf of the candidate (and perhaps make them wonder if the job is worth it), they take more time to organize and evaluate on behalf of the company - not to mention the increased costs in possible testing fees and the time investment of your hiring staff.

The solutions to speeding up your hiring process:

Make it easy for candidates to apply

  • Redesign your website or candidate portal to make it easy for job seekers to find the appropriate listing and submit their application.
  • Confirm receipt of applications by automatically sending an email response when you receive a resume.
  • Post in several locations, such as on your website and major job seeking sites for your industry to allow the largest candidate pool possible to see your listing, increasing your likelihood of finding the right candidates more quickly.
Communicate constantly
  • Keep candidates in the loop by using their preferred form of communication: either email or phone.
  • Give feedback after the interview, even if it's simply to thank the candidate for coming on site.
  • Let them know what the next step is and then follow through. If you expect to let them know about a second interview or a hiring decision the following week, stick to your timeline. If the decision is delayed, let them know that as well. It's also best practice to let a candidate who has interviewed know if they are not being offered the position.
Streamline your job posting and interview process
  • Have a clear need when posting a position and aim to fill it as soon as possible.
  • Get pre-approval for the position from the relevant departments, set a scope of work, and approve the salary range.
  • Schedule back-to-back interviews if needed to both speed up your internal process and decrease the amount of time a candidate needs to spend on site prior to the hiring decision.
By decreasing the amount of time you spend on the hiring process, you can increase your productivity and lower costs. Not only will your hiring staff be more efficient with a shorter and more organized process, your managers and other interviewers will feel their time is more valued, you'll attract better candidates and be able to extend job offers to them in a more timely manner, and job seekers will have a better impression of your company overall.

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