How a long recruitment process can harm your business

By Robert Half on 2nd November 2016

Deciding whether and when to extend the job offer in the recruitment process can be an excruciating exercise for hiring managers. If you’ve 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 extend an offer can leave you lamenting the one that got away, especially in today’s recruitment market.

Skilled candidates are in growing demand and supply is just not keeping pace, leaving these candidates very much in the driving seat. These professionals are not on the market long and are often receiving multiple opportunities. 

What job candidates expect during the recruitment process

From candidates perspective the most frustrating part of the job search can be the waiting -- waiting to hear if they will be invited to an interview, waiting to hear feedback from the interview and waiting to see if they will receive an offer for the position.

How long is too long? Candidates expect the recruitment process, from interview to offer, to be wrapped up quickly. If you provide an expected timeframe when feedback will be provided, they expect to hear back within that timeframe.

Professionals in the middle of their job search can quickly lose interest and lengthy recruitment process could lead them to pursue other opportunities. Imagine if your preferred candidate removed him- or herself from the recruitment process because you dragged your feet.

A quick but informed recruitment process

What’s a hiring manager to do? On the one hand, job seekers exiting the interview process expect a quick decision. On the other hand, that costly hiring mistake you made last year still haunts you. You probably feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place.

Learn the three serious consequences of a bad hire for your business.

Yes, hiring is one of the most important decisions your firm makes. But that doesn’t mean extending the recruitment process will lesson the risk.

With an organised and thorough approach, a full understanding of your company’s needs and the exorcising of unreasonable expectations, you can create a quick but informed decision-making process — and get a step ahead of your competitors. Tightening up your recruitment process doesn't mean skipping steps to shorten the timeframe.

Follow these steps to a timely, successful recruitment process:

  • Define — or re-define — your hiring need

It’s foolish to think that any candidate will fit the bill until you know what you want. So be sure your hiring criteria are clearly outlined from the start. If you’re hiring for an existing position, consider how your needs may have changed since the job was last vacant and at the same time consider any future developments that the role may undergo.

  • Be meticulous in crafting the job description

Not only will this ensure you attract candidates who are truly qualified, it will serve as a performance evaluation tool once you’ve found your perfect hire. Be honest about the duties the position does and does not entail. Don’t over-promise room for advancement or gloss over unglamorous tasks like filing. Clearly state the degrees, certifications or experience required. This will help you quickly evaluate the first round of applications.

  • Get in position

Make sure you’ve secured the internal approvals required to recruit for the role along the buy-in from stakeholders that hiring is a priority. You don’t want to find the perfect candidate only to be unable to pull the trigger and have to start the recruitment process back at square one. Another key aspect is to ensure you have an approved salary range that is competitive in the current market conditions. Use industry publications to ensure you are up to date on the starting salary packages been offered for similar positions.

  • Set a schedule and a deadline

Block out time for the interview process and commit to it, consolidating on-site meetings in one or two days, if possible. Set dates for key steps like deciding whom to call in for an interview, when you want to offer the position and a start date.

Use these top 10 interview questions to help find a great hire.

  • Be consistent, objective and realistic

Be sure you’re not creating a job very few people, if any, could be considered qualified for. Of course you have the dream candidate in mind. But ask yourself: Does that person really exist? If you aren't able to answer this question yourself, speak with your specialised recruitment consultant. As the will have a handle on the current recruitment environment, as well as what competitors are asking of similar roles, they will be able to provide some specific guidance to set your expectations.

Holding out for Mr. or Mrs. Right is a sure fire way to delay the recruitment process. Decide on four or five must-have attributes and apply them to every candidate. And take notes during interviews so you can objectively review every candidate at the end of the interview process, when all your encounters may seem to run together in your memory.  

  • Check references

You want to be efficient, not foolhardy, so don’t speed up the recruitment process at all costs. Checking references, for example, is not a step to be rushed through. It could be crucial in avoiding a hiring mistake.

  • Don’t leave them hanging — even for a little while

During the interview process, let candidates know when they may expect to hear back from you, and follow through. You know your silence means you’re polishing your offer package, but a potential hire might interpret it as disinterest and pursue another job.

  • Make the decision

When you find that next addition to your team, you’ll want to make a verbal offer pending any reference or background checks before you negotiate an offer package. Make sure you have the buy-in from fellow stakeholders to do this — and then pick up the phone!

Hiring is among the most critical decisions your company makes, but its importance can lead to paralysis in the recruitment process. With an understanding of the key attributes you’re looking for in a candidate and an organised, targeted approach, you can nab the best talent quickly without suffering hirer’s remorse.

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