Current economic challenges are giving rise to caution within organisations when it comes to hiring, with extra scrutiny being placed on associated expenditures and finding the right talent. Yet in today’s candidate market, where impressive applicants are regularly entertaining multiple offers and want to feel valued by their potential employers, prolonged decision-making can result in missed hiring opportunities.
At the risk of dissuading impressive candidates, companies can no longer dawdle when it comes to bringing on new talent. If they take too long to make a decision, they may find that their desired applicants have already been snapped up by a competitor. The best way to maintain candidate engagement is to act swiftly and decisively.
Talent acquisition has always been a difficult balancing act between moving fast enough to secure the best talent while carefully selecting the right person for the role. However, it appears that organisations are increasingly struggling to maintain this delicate balance, and prolonged interview processes are becoming a widespread tendency. The recent report from The Josh Bersin Company and AMS show that time-to-hire rates have risen to an average 44 days in 2023, with businesses across multiple sectors and 25 countries taking longer than ever to make employment decisions. Meanwhile, a Robert Half survey from earlier this year noted that in the US it takes an average of 11 weeks to fill a vacant role.
Ideally, the hiring process should happen within a two-week window. However, due to ongoing caution in an uncertain economic climate, disorganised internal recruitment protocols, and excessive stakeholder involvement, hires are sometimes being unnecessarily drawn out and companies are losing out on talent as a result. With inefficient hiring procedures and lengthy interview processes becoming unsustainable for organisations who want to remain competitive in the talent market, how can companies streamline their internal recruitment practices to stay ahead of the curve?
Organisations are increasingly struggling to maintain this delicate balance, and prolonged interview processes are becoming a widespread tendency
Combining online and in-person meetings have always been standard practice when it comes to interviewing candidates. However, with the ease and convenience of arranging multiple online meetings post-pandemic, it is important that we don’t lose sight of how effective face-to-face interviews can be when assessing fresh talent, resulting in more assured and efficient decision-making.
Indeed, in-person meetings are often more successful at helping interviewers acquire a better sense of a potential employee, and likewise prospective hires can get a better feel for their potential new work home. Both sides can iron out issues and address specific concerns more easily. By allowing recruitment teams to proceed with greater confidence, face-to-face interviews can help to maintain hiring momentum and ultimately boost talent retention by ensuring the hire is the right fit.
In-person meetings can also help applicants feel more valued. Especially when it comes to top-tier recruits, candidates naturally tend to seek assurance that their prospective employer is eager to court them. In a competitive job market where candidates receive multiple offers, clients who go the extra mile in wooing a potential employee are often the ones able to clinch the deal.
Too many cooks?
Given the convenience of arranging multiple online meetings in a remote working era, it is easy to see why businesses now run hiring decisions past an increasingly long list of stakeholders. Too many decision-makers and unnecessary layers of sign-off inevitably results in delayed internal decision-making and interview fatigue from candidates.
Indeed, when excessive numbers of stakeholders have a role in evaluating a candidate’s progress, one person’s reservations can quickly spread and stall the decision-making process. To ensure that the recruitment practices remain streamlined, companies should aim to include no more than two or three stakeholders in each interview.
Of course, this is not always possible. When it comes to hiring for more senior roles, greater involvement is naturally needed. In some cases, high-level recruitment may require the insight of other business leaders and C-suite figures. However, where possible it is still vital to be discerning and selective with the numbers of stakeholders in an interview. If companies want to maintain top talent engagement, they need to speed up hiring processes by cutting down on decision-makers.
Prioritising coordination and organisation
Alongside reducing the number of decision-makers involved, businesses can also streamline their recruitment processes by being clear about how each stakeholder can input into the process. A good example of this can be allocating specific skills for stakeholders to focus on when vetting talent.
By asking interviewers to analyse and feedback on particular candidate competencies – such as cultural fit, personality type, or skills – companies can avoid repeating the same interviews, helping to organise and speed up the process. It is also worth noting that increased organisation and efficiency will make a good impression on top-tier applicants, further encouraging their interest in the company and the role. Constant delays and cancellations may signify disorganisation or apprehensiveness internally, potentially disengaging interviewees.
By coordinating and organising the stakeholders involved, businesses can maintain an excellent talent shortlist, as highly sought-after individuals will be less likely to be interested in competing job offers.
Constant delays and cancellations may signify disorganisation or apprehensiveness internally, potentially disengaging interviewees.
The importance of external support
Too often companies place the recruitment of highly specialised roles on the shoulders of their internal HR teams, even if they aren’t equipped to vet such candidates. Although done with the best intentions, placing the initial responsibility on internal talent teams can delay the hiring process unnecessarily. By the time search firms are called in to offer their support, applicant enthusiasm may already be waning.
Search firms can provide valuable external insights when it comes to efficiently sourcing, screening, and evaluating talent. Particularly when it comes to specialised hires, offering an understanding of market trends in specific sectors and candidate expectations can be instrumental for businesses looking to make informed and speedy hiring decisions from the outset.
Internal hiring taskforces should approach professional recruiters as business partners and close advisors, rather than an extra (or sometimes last-minute) resource. When it comes to creating a robust and effective hiring strategy, the transparent and consistent information exchange between recruiters and HR teams can help with securing the best possible talent to drive company success.
Finding the right balance
Ultimately, when performing the difficult balancing act between cautiously scrutinising candidates for a role and making quick hiring decisions, companies must avoid becoming overly bogged down with well-meaning protocols if they want to keep the best applicants engaged. Now more than ever, speed is crucial for securing top candidates. With the risk of losing promising talent to competitors, businesses must ensure that their hiring processes remain streamlined and effective if they want to maintain their competitive edge.
By prioritising in-person interviews where practical, distilling the interview process down to necessary decision-makers, and promoting a transparent and organised approach from all stakeholders, companies can promote a competitive internal hiring process that maintains momentum and candidate enthusiasm. Meanwhile, working effectively with search professionals can speed up recruitment processes by integrating additional expert insight into decision-making from the get-go.