We’ve all heard the old saying, “time kills deals.” If you were ever in sales, it was drilled into your head by senior sales leaders. In today’s hiring environment, it’s a cliché that all too often comes true.
Let’s look at it from both perspectives: the hiring organization, and the candidate.
The candidate wants (or needs) a new position. He or she responds to ads or works with a recruiter. Interest is shown by a hiring organization, and the process starts. Multiple interviews occur, sometimes weeks apart. Tests or qualifying assessments are done online or at the company offices. After several weeks of this, the candidate starts to wonder if the process to hire someone reflects the company’s decision making process overall. Weeks sometimes pass between communications. The candidate starts wondering if anyone within the organization is married, given as long as it takes them to hire someone. The candidate starts adding up how much vacation time they have spent on interviews and in-office assessment testing. Other opportunities appear and the candidate applies. Eventually another firm makes her/him an offer, and though the first job seems a better fit/better money/better location/better upward movement, they decide to take it.
The Hiring Organization
The company has an open position. There is a process to be followed — it’s actually written down! Meetings are held to determine the position responsibilities and requirements. The compensation division does an industry review to make sure the salary fits the position and local cost of living. It has to be posted internally for a period of time. Then it is advertised and large numbers of resumes are received that need to be evaluated. Committees are formed to review resumes. Internal candidates come forward who need to be reviewed and interviewed. Interviews begin with external candidates, some of whom are flown in from distant cities. They have to complete assessments that qualify (or disqualify) them from moving forward in the process. Second interviews occur. It’s down to just a few final candidates. Compensation, relocation expenses, and benefits start being discussed with the final candidates. Some drop out here. Some have taken other offers. Eventually it comes down to just a couple of internal candidates and an external candidate or two who are still interested. The department head thinks the position deserves better and wants to “revisit the talent marketplace.”
Either of these scenarios sound familiar — as a member of the hiring process or a candidate?
So where does the responsibility fall to speed up the process?
As a candidate, there is little you can do to change a company’s hiring process and culture. Unless you are one of three people in the world who can do the job, chances are the timeline is not going to change. You can tell the hiring manager you are looking at other options, and even tell them you have offers you are considering, but it probably won’t speed things up.
If the opportunity is your be-all, end-all job with a firm that you have been waiting your entire career for, then play the game. Ride it to the end. Keep the hiring authority updated on your interest and complete the tasks they require in a timely manner.
If you are on the hiring side, there are things that can get filling an open position off your “to do” list:
- Assign the hiring process project to one person. It should be treated like a project. The project manager for hiring this position should provide regular updates to committees, managers, peers and others as to the status of the hire. Typically this may be an HR person, but it does not have to be. Demand accountability.
- Know what the company needs and wants. Get consensus from stakeholders for the position of exactly what the perfect candidate looks like. Answer the important questions now, like “A bachelor degree is required for the position, but what if a great candidate with 20 years of experience applies who does not have a degree?”
- Have a timeline. Get buy-in now that these steps will occur during specific time periods. Share the timeline with candidates.
- No surprises. Communicate everything. Nothing slows down or re-starts a search faster than a final candidate who towards the end of the process says “Relocation is required? I was hoping this would be a job I could fly to Monday morning, work ten hours a day, and fly home from on Thursday night.” Or, “I wish we would have talked about compensation and vacation time earlier. Both of what you are proposing are less than half of what I get now.”
- Create a sense of urgency. Someone — or multiple people — in the organization are suffering because no one is sitting at that desk. In some cases the company itself stalls in one or more areas because a position is empty. If it’s a priority for company management, people will make time to be involved in the process, no matter how busy they are.
- Use technology. The hiring timeline can be shortened through use of Skype, FaceTime, or WebEx interviews during the early part of the interview process.
- Be flexible. It may take a candidate several days to get the OK to take a half-day off to drive to your headquarters and interview. But they may be able to do a telephone or video interview tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. before they go to work, or tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. when they get home, or during their lunch break.
Simple steps such as these will speed up the hiring timeline and help ensure you get the talent the company needs. The more valued and respected a candidate feels during the process, the better that candidate will feel in making a decision to join your team.
Steve Bennett is VP and Executive Recruiter at Kirby Partners, an executive search firm in Orlando, Fla. specializing in healthcare IT senior management positions. To learn more about Kirby Partners and executive-level healthcare positions around the country, visit www.kirbypartners.com or connect with us on LinkedIn.