You snooze. You lose: speed up your recruitment process or lose the best candidates

Recruitment can be a slow process for all parties. From initially profiling the role, to writing a job description, advertising the vacancy, engaging recruitment agencies, reviewing applications, interviewing candidates…

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With so many balls up in the air at any one time it’s inevitable that, occasionally, momentum can stall and what you thought would only take a few weeks ends up taking months. And months. But, alas, you’ve found your dream candidate so it was worth it, right? Oh, hang on… What? You’ve lost them – they’ve taken another job, with a competitor? Damn.

In the world of recruitment this situation is not unusual. As Sara Jones, co-founder of Hiring Hub says over and over, ad nauseum: “if you snooze, you lose.”

Sara is so animated because we see and hear it all the time at Hiring Hub: employers (with the best of intentions) missing out on their preferred candidate because they took too long to make an offer and, in the meantime, that candidate has found another position with a company that moved faster to secure their employment.

Now, we’re not suggesting you loosen your recruitment process to accommodate candidates you really like. It’s important to have some formal structure when managing what can be an overwhelming amount of tasks, paperwork, people and diaries. That said, it’s just as important to recognise when the right candidate has come along, and act fast.

Acting fast doesn’t mean offering them the job halfway through the first interview. It can simply mean letting them know that you like them, that you felt it was a positive meeting, and you’ll formalise your thoughts in writing within an agreed timeframe to keep them in the loop.

Because that’s the most important thing: keeping the candidate informed. Communication really is the key.

Provided it’s not financial pressure driving their job search, a good candidate that’s excited about a job opportunity will happily sit on the sidelines for a few weeks while you go through the motions: chase feedback from line managers, conduct interviews with other candidates, check references, take annual leave…

But it’s important to keep them warm. To let them know where it’s up to in the process, when they’re likely to hear from you again, and exactly what the next step is likely to be. Managing the candidate’s expectations is central to a smooth recruitment process.

This is all common sense, right? Yes. But you’d be surprised at just how many employers let this simple element of the recruitment process slip when they’re in the eye of the storm.

It’s so easily done. You have 100 candidates to review and respond to. You’re chasing the bloody line manager to get their feedback. You’ve got another six interviews to organise on Wednesday. You’ve got your daughter’s 4th birthday party coming up. The cat needs worming. You need to call in at the supermarket on the way home to get something for dinner. Your husband is no help, he just watches football all day and you hate him. His sister warned you. Why did you marry him? Arrrggghhh!

Yeah, we know it’s not easy (which is why we’re here to help). But there really is no replacement for a quick phone call, or email, to say: “We really liked you. We thought you came across well and, culturally, we think you’d be a good fit. We have a few more interviews to conduct but it’s all positive. Please don’t be surprised or worried if you don’t hear from until the backend of next week, we’re just a bit swamped and these things can take time, but I’m confident we’d like to see you again…”

It’s a small thing. But it goes a long way. Even if that candidate is meeting other employers, attending other interviews, if they like what you can offer, they will wait to hear what you have to say at a second interview. Or keep you updated with any changes in their circumstances.

If, however, from a candidate’s perspective, the world goes quiet for two weeks and they hear nothing, they’ll think you’re a rubbish company that doesn’t value their time, nor care very much for what they can offer, and they’ll happily move on while carrying that negative opinion of your company with them throughout their professional life, sharing their experience with others as they see fit.

Reason for slow hiring processes

So the message is clear. If you find a good candidate, and you like them, tell them, and then try and speed up the second half of your recruitment process (a second interview, assessments, profiling, security checks, referencing, etc) to show them that you’re serious.

Don’t dilly-dally with third and fourth interviews (“but he has to meet the Managing Director, who’s in Spain…”) because while you’re doing that, someone else will hire your dream candidate.

A slow recruitment process makes your organisation look slow, rigid, and anything but agile and entrepreneurial. Act fast. Hire fast. (Fire fast too, but that’s another blog.) And at the very least, communicate promptly to manage the candidate’s expectations and keep them informed.

And, while all that’s going on, don’t forget to worm the cat. Poor cat.