3 Reasons Why Hiring Slow Will Hurt Your Ability To Compete

By Kathleen Laney - March 22, 2016

It’s a scenario I see all too often.  A client’s best candidate withdrawals from a long slow hiring process.  The reasons vary. They may have been snapped up by another company, perhaps even the top competitor. Or the candidate may have just reached their breaking point of frustration from an interview process that has dragged on for months. One thing for sure, a lengthy hiring process is a disaster for everyone involved.

And this potential business killer is becoming increasingly common. According to a 2015 report by Deloitte, the average time to fill a vacancy is 52 days. While this time frame is shorter for entry-level positions, the time to fill increases the farther up you go on the career ladder.

This is especially true as we have returned to a competitive talent market. Couple that with the latest mobile devices, apps and social media outlets that allow for instantaneous connection, a slow hiring process often leads to a company’s slow strangulation.  And when a first interview can be scheduled in a manner of minutes, it only seems reasonable that an accelerated hiring process would follow. But often it doesn't, and too many times it stalls.

Long hiring processes happen for a number of reasons. Employers today are using additional screening methods in their decision-making process.  Phone interviews are now the norm – and sometimes several rounds of them. However, they rarely shorten the recruiting process and almost never take the place of the traditional in-person interview. Cheaper and more collaborative technology platforms also now allow all employers, not just the largest with massive HR department, to use and administer more background checks, skills, and behavioral assessments, and incorporate new types of interviews.  While many of these tools have some use, all of these factors lead to hiring at a snail’s pace.

Employers that have a slow hiring process do and will continue to lose out on top talent to companies that move quickly.  The goal here is not to suggest you should hire the first person that responds to your advertisement. Obviously, that could lead to poor hiring decisions.  But once you’ve identified a top performer that’s right for the job and your company, it is essential to move your hiring process along in an expeditious manner.

Here’s why this is so important.

1.  You will lose the best talent. When a top candidate decides to enter the job market, they’ll likely be approached by multiple companies, get multiple job offers and subsequently get hired quickly. On average, top candidates are on the market for just ten days before they are snapped up. So if you find your candidate – don’t lose them because of decades-old hiring practices. Instead, act fast to gain an advantage over your competitors.

Also, once a “passive” candidate expresses an interest in making a job change, they usually aren’t  in the market for long—often less than three weeks. Thus, you face a much greater possibility of losing this talent to a competitor. In turn, the risk increases that the candidate will receive and accept a counteroffer.

2.  The longer your position is open, the more the quality of candidates will decline. The thought is that a thorough and tedious recruiting process will result in better hires. But it actually has the opposite effect. The longer you take, the more likely that your strongest candidates will have other offers in the meantime. You will be then forced to choose from the "left-over" candidates who you feel are either average and weak.

Candidates will also evaluate their interactions with your company during the hiring process as a gauge of what it’ll be like to work there. Candidates may interpret a slow process to believe your company is indecisive, unorganized or even that is not a good place to work. Top performers are more likely to be fast and accurate decision-makers. They will be much more likely to gravitate toward companies that do the same.

3.  Positions that remain open for long periods of time will cost you large amounts of money. Involving more people, more assessment and more steps to your hiring process results in higher costs. These resources can add up. Some hiring managers believe that vacancies actually save on salaries, but the damage of having a revenue-generating position unfilled longer than necessary will result in lost revenue, productivity, and opportunity.

 Also, the longer the position remains open, the more likely you will end up paying a candidate more money, especially if you end up in a bidding war.  If you offer your top candidates a position before your competitors have a chance to do so, there is a much greater probability that you will be able to hire them with little or no haggling.  And realize that a candidate’s salary demands will invariably increase once they realize their true market value.

Customers are also turned off by companies with positions that remain open for a long time, potentially costing you business.  Customers are often wary of working with a company who can’t fill the positions within a reasonable period that the service and products you provide will be poor.

Parting Words

You won’t impress anyone with a slow and painful hiring process that routinely misses out on top talent. If the above points didn’t hit home with you, perhaps let’s try an analogy we can almost all relate to.

Remember your high school prom? Every high schooler knows that those deemed to be the most “desirable” will have a date within days of the prom announcement.  So ask yourself, if you were hot to trot for a date with your dream sweetheart, would you really wait 52 days to ask them? I think not.

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