Speeding Up the Recruiting Process in Times of Talent Shortage

March 2016

As the talent shortage gets “shorter”, the recruiting process has lengthened. Glassdoor.com research featured in Forbes, estimates that the average length of the interview process has doubled in five years, from 12.6 days to 22.9 days. Meanwhile, the best candidates are on the market an average of just 10 days. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that this discrepancy is just not sustainable.

Part of the reason for the slowing down of the recruiting process is the increasing demand from employers for candidates to undergo more and more tests and interview stages. Screening methods such as group presentations, IQ tests, personality, security and drug tests each extend the hiring timeline. We have heard of 7 stage interviews and up to 45 people from the company involved in the interview process. An extreme example perhaps, but there is no evidence to suggest that lengthy recruiting times improves the quality of those who you hire and in our experience, the most talented candidates simply won’t wait around, as they will almost certainly have other offers on the go.

Disadvantages of hiring slowly

The disadvantages of a slow hiring process are numerous and far reaching.

  • As already mentioned, candidates who are in high demand will go elsewhere if they feel recruiting is taking too long.
  • If the position is currently vacant, the company risks losing revenue or even more staff who are overworked trying to cover for the missing person.
  • If your chosen candidate gets another offer, a bidding war may ensue and salary costs could go up.
  • Gaining a reputation for being slow decision-makers will not only lose many top prospects, it will also damage the corporate reputation as a whole, making subsequent recruiting harder. You only have to read some candidate reviews on Glassdoor to see the damage occurring.
  • Slow hiring inevitably affects candidate experience, but it can also dramatically reduce the hiring manager’s interest in the process if they are required to carry out lengthy and unwieldy stages and background checks to satisfy corporate protocols.
  • Both customers and existing employees will also feel the negative impacts of slow hiring as staff shortages affect company performance.

Advantages of speeding up

We have often heard the phrase ‘We’ve always done it this way’ but perhaps today is a good day to start the change, bolstered by the advantages listed below:

  • Less expensive - Research from Oxford Economics found that the average cost of replacing a member of staff costs more than £30,000, which includes logistical costs and the cost of lost output while a replacement is found and becomes fully productive. Hiring a replacement quickly in order to overlap with the leaver ensures a speedier and cheaper process with no loss of output.
  • Less time-consuming for employers - Taking time out to interview candidates will have an effect on productivity. Streamlining the process with fewer stages and fewer people involved will be welcomed all round.
  • Better response rates - If a candidate knows what to expect and is given a realistic start date from the outset, they are more likely to engage with the process enthusiastically and be prepared to stay the course.
  • Less chance of candidates changing their mind - High-calibre candidates are in great demand and the faster the recruiting process, the less chance they have to be wooed by ‘better’ or quicker offers.
  • More enjoyable - applying for a job, attending interviews and waiting for feedback is never going to be a walk in the park, but if the candidate experience is as good as it can be, people are more likely to think well of the company and consider applying there in the future.

How to speed up without cutting corners

Hopefully, you will agree that it is in everyone’s interest to make the recruiting process as short and painless as possible. But how do you go about it? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Create a clear job specification removing ambiguous wording and be as specific as possible on skills and experience required so only suitable candidates apply
  • Set interview dates in advance with everyone concerned before advertising the role and agree who really needs to sit in on the interview
  • Utilise technology in any way to streamline and track the process and help spot bottle necks in the process
  • Make an on offer quickly and make sure contracts and reference requests are already in place ready to go out
  • Don’t interview just for the sake of it. You have found the perfect candidate, stop looking and start offering!
  • Only check references for candidates you’re planning to hire
  • If you see a great fit then move in on them quickly
  • Include a job start date at the earliest stages (and stick to it)
  • Use a specialist recruiter who already has an up to date database of good, motivated candidates and who will be able to do the initial screening and selection on your behalf.


The early bird catches the worm and always will and those companies who can prove their agility and adaptability to changing times will prove themselves to be the most successful and admired companies for employees, customers and candidates alike. (Social-Hire.com 19/02/16)

Watch future issues of the AgStep Recruiting Update for more steps to turn your talent attraction and retention into a more strategic process.