The need for speed

September 13, 2017

In hiring circles, one topic that is often discussed is the impact of speed on the hiring process. This can come up in a variety of ways. No one wants to risk making a bad hiring decision because they rushed. At the same time, no one wants to lose a great candidate because they were too slow!

To some extent, the importance of speed varies with the state of the hiring market. Is it a “buyer’s market”, where there are lots of great candidates floating around for every job? Or have things shifted to a “seller’s market”, where great candidates are fielding multiple job offers?

MRI Network, a large US recruiting agency, conducts a survey twice a year* in which they ask recruiting firms, hiring managers, and candidates whether they would describe today’s hiring market as being “employer driven” or “candidate driven.” In the most recent survey, the opinion of the hiring managers and candidates was quite aligned, and about evenly split; 53% of employers and 54% of candidates thought it was “employer driven.” But when they surveyed recruiters, results were very different: fully 90% of recruiters felt the market was “candidate driven.” This discrepancy is likely driven by the fact that recruiters have the best view of what happens with the top candidates. While ‘average’ candidates may feel that the power is evenly split, (and by definition, the majority of candidates will be ‘average’); the ‘top’ candidates know very much that they are in the driver’s seat. And it is the top candidates that everyone wants to hire!

The truth is, it doesn’t matter what the buyer/seller state of the market is … great candidates will always have the power over their own careers. They won’t be desperate for an opportunity, and they won’t tolerate a drawn out or frustrating process. That process will symbolize to them, both overtly and subconsciously, what it will be like to work with you and your firm should they join. And if the hiring process appears inefficient or ineffective, they will assume (correctly or not) that this reflects all your processes, because they have no other basis to judge.

On the other hand, you can’t afford to cut corners in your process either. We all know that the cost of a bad hiring decision is high, and can be as much as two to five times the annual salary of the role when you consider all the hard and soft costs. So it is important that you have a rigorous process; involve the key decision makers; complete any testing or assessments that have demonstrated value; and complete solid reference checks at the right point.

So what’s the solution to the conflict? The answer is to keep your process moving briskly, while not cutting any corners. You can do this by:

• Ensuring this hiring process has a champion. This can be the hiring manager, or it can be someone from HR; but whoever it is, filling the role needs to be one of their top priorities. They need to understand the cost to the organization of a delayed process, both in terms of the role remaining empty longer, and potentially losing the best candidates.

• Ensuring the process is well defined. Get buy in from all those involved, and communicate with any outside partners, regarding who will interview and who will have decision making rights.

• Ensuring key players are available. If they are busy people, have interview slots reserved on their calendars even before candidates have been identified; these can always be released if not needed. And schedule time not just to complete the interviews, but to have prompt debrief sessions to agree next steps.

• Ensuring your recruiting partners receive prompt feedback. A good recruiting agency wants to add maximum value to both clients and candidates. They can only do that with complete and timely data flow.

The tension between hiring quickly and hiring well will always exist; the best hiring managers will find a way to manage this tension in their favour.


Contributed by Steve Rosen
Managing Director at PTC Recruiting

For more information about Steve click on this picture

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