In a candidate’s market, a prolonged hiring process can cause an organisation to lose its appeal.
By Simon Kent
The saying “more haste, less speed” was not coined at a time of talent crisis. With companies casting around desperately trying to find the skills they need, attached to people they want, and at a price they can afford, it seems he who moves quickest will have first pick. Prime candidates are often subject to multiple processes, including the fielding of counter-offers. Any foot-dragging, therefore, is swiftly penalised.
“The need for urgency in the hiring process has never been more pressing,” warns Lindsay Jones, chief people officer at Delta Capita. “We are experiencing a labour market shortage globally. In some industries there are two jobs for each person looking for work.”
Jones says that internal recruitment processes can slow down a decision because often the decision maker is juggling their own day job alongside recruiting. But she adds, “Rushing a hire can be high risk. When one is eager to make an appointment, perhaps to support a pressing workload, we are more likely to see what we want to see. It is important to ensure that a fair panel is appointed and you are true to competencies required for the job.”
At global financial services provider, Apex Group, Chief HR Officer and executive committee member Vikita Patel says the time for hiring can vary significantly according to business area, seniority of hire, and even geography. “We are placing renewed focus on how candidates are engaged and communicated with, from offer stage through to offer acceptance and start date,” she says. “By having these frequent touch points or ‘keep in touch’ conversations, candidates remain engaged and in a constant dialogue, prior to starting at the company.”
Good communications and a sense of engagement before joining an organisation can at least reduce the time pressure to hire, if not do away with it entirely. If a business demonstrates it has a genuine interest in a candidate, and the dialogue is meaningful and productive, the candidate may hold out for an offer even if that decision isn’t made immediately.
Patel is also clear that any hiring schedule should not force unnecessary compromises. The gate-keeping role of recruitment for the business still needs to be taken seriously, and the appropriate time should be taken for companies to pursue their diversity agenda or to find particular candidates. “Companies should be considering a diverse candidate list for each role and it is important not to use time pressure as an excuse to rush, or even skip, this important consideration,” she says.
Despite these factors in play, Patel is clear that a balance needs to be struck. In some circumstances, HR and TA will have to prioritise time to hire and make considerations around a candidate’s potential over their current CV. “It is important that hiring managers be mindful that they may not be able to find the ‘perfect’ candidate,” she says, “and therefore they may need to take into account not only the candidate’s past experience, but also their future potential to learn, develop, and grow into the role.”
Peter Cleverton, managing director of EMEA at HireRight, agrees the market remains candidate driven with the result that many employers are desperate to get new hires through the door. Again, he argues there are areas of the process that should not be compromised despite the time pressure. “The need to onboard talent quickly should never come at the expense of foregoing pre-employment background checks, or even rushing or paring back the scope of these checks,” he says.
HireRight’s forthcoming Annual Benchmark Report, now in its 15th year, has found that more than half of EMEA employers attribute an overall better quality of hire to their employment screening programme. Therefore, whilst time to hire may still be a key recruitment metric, time spent conducting background checks to verify their candidates’ information and credentials is always worthwhile.
“Whilst cutting corners in the recruitment process may result in some marginal improvement in onboarding times, that short-term benefit must be weighed against the long-term risk of making a bad hire,” says Cleverton. Those long-term risks can include wasted salaries, lost productivity, additional recruitment costs, and even reputational damage.
Talent Acquisition Team Lead at monday.com Gal Ben-Yaacov says that whatever pressures the business is under, it must continue to respect and value a candidate’s time. She cites one study that found 75% of applicants never hear back from employers after applying for a job, and 60% never hear back after an interview. Speed of hiring, she argues, is also an essential element of delivering a great candidate experience.
Ben-Yaacov outlines a number of targets she believes companies should aim for when recruiting for a new position. Candidates, she says, should get an initial call or contact within 24 hours of submitting an application to acknowledge their inclusion in the process. After that, candidates should wait for no more than two or three days for a response. “In a candidate-driven market, there is no such thing as hiring too quickly,” she claims. “Recruiters who embrace this agile mindset can make well-thought, thorough decisions as quickly as it’s needed.”
With that said, Ben-Yaacov’s ultimate message is that the most important factor for candidates is a company’s values. “A great recruitment process is the first step in turning people into brand advocates,” she says, “even if they are not selected for a particular role. You only get one chance to make a first impression. So, the hiring process should be seen as a way to introduce potential employees to the company’s culture right from the beginning.”
As tempting as it may be to throw money at the best-looking candidate and haul them aboard the business as quickly as possible, recruitment decisions – to hire or not to hire, and how to hire – have to be lived with well for the long term. Ultimately, a tailored approach to each hire should strike the right balance between the amount of consideration and analysis required to assess the value the candidate may bring to the organisation and an offer. It’s a workplace which HR has always strived to create – one where everyone can bring their best selves to work and make the most positive contribution they can.