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Is slow hiring hurting your brand?

Posted by: Matt


Hiring Fast

One of the most fundamental errors made by inexperienced recruiters is slow hiring. You can see the logic behind it. An organisation may have a culture of working long hours to pave the way for business success. They rightly take pride in their meticulous planning and execution of established process and when the time comes to hire new talent, they’re damned if they’re going to start to become more agile. Hire slow, fire fast is a well worn business mantra.

But a protracted recruitment process does not translate into better hiring outcomes. The longer you deliberate, the likelier you are to lose quality candidates to a competitor. Industry analysts reckon the average time taken to fill roles is now as high as 25 daystwo and half times longer than the average candidate stays on the jobs market.

Too many employers obsess over the cost-per-hire metric, a short-termist approach which completely ignores the potentially astronomical costs of hiring a so-so candidate who adds little value to the business. Advocates of ‘speed hiring’ focus on snapping up high quality candidates who have plenty of other job options and are unlikely to hang around for much more than a few days after submitting their application.

Of course, a quick hiring process doesn’t mean lowering your standards. It simply means understanding your ‘key ingredients’ for the role,  being able to recognise these in the candidate, and being ready to execute on the essential steps to hire. So that when your candidate arrives your in a position to move fast.

Let’s examine the reasons why slow hiring damages your business:

  • Candidates in high demand don’t stay on the market for long. Drag out the hiring process and the most sought-after prospects will have more opportunities by the day. If your competitor makes a quick acceptance offer when you’re still halfway through the process, the candidate is left with a choice: go for the soon-to-expire offer or wait for a possible future offer from you. Unless you’re a corporate powerhouse with prospective employees begging to work for you, the odds of them remaining available at the end of your recruitment process diminish as time goes on. Ergo, drawing out the recruitment process won’t help you find top talent – it’ll leave you with a pool of mediocrity from which to choose.
  • Productivity will drop if positions remain vacant for too long. Your thorough quest for that mythical dream candidate will result in a loss of productivity and revenue. The degree to which this impacts your business depends on how mission-critical the job is, but frankly, for small businesses and startups, every job should be mission-critical. When designing your recruitment process, calculate the opportunity cost of handing the reigns to your existing workforce, and ask yourself whether an extended hiring process is really worth it.
  • Candidates use the recruitment experience as a litmus test of the corporate culture. Remember, they view the interview process as the first – and perhaps only – interaction with your company, and will draw conclusions about what it’s like to work there based on that. It may seem unfair, but a slow recruitment process is often interpreted as an indicator of business practice as a whole. Take too long to give them a job, and they start wondering how long it’ll take to advance within the organization, receive project opportunities or pay reviews etc. The trick is to stir a sense of excitement between the hiring manager/recruiter and the candidate. Adopt a speedy application and interview process before honing in on your preferred candidate, make that offer and the candidate will view you as a dynamic company with the drive and ambition to match their own.

For highly qualified candidates with years of experience and expertise being in demand is the norm. Even before they see your job listing, they’ve been approached by headhunters attempting to lure them away from their current employer. It’s hard enough to attract top talent without the handicap of a needlessly over engineered and sluggish recruitment process. Let your hiring strategy reflect your brand  – agile, purposeful, decisive – and you’ll attract and win talent that aspires to the very same.


Matt is a Director of The Talent Hive and leads the Engineering recruitment practice within the business. Originally from the UK he’s been living in New Zealand for 12 years. Matt is a retired ‘amateur’ athlete who has given up chasing great marathon times for chasing his young children around the park, a far more worthy (if not exhausting) pursuit.

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Categorised as: Talent Search & Management