Improve Your Hiring Results With These Speed of Hire Tips

Many recruiting leaders are not aware that “the magic bullet” in recruiting is improving your speed of hire. Hiring faster improves your quality of hire because you make a hiring decision before any top candidates drop out to take a competing offer. A faster time to hire will also improve your offer acceptance rates, strengthen your employer brand, and make managers happy because they don’t lose productivity and revenue because of positions being vacant unnecessarily long.

Most recruiting leaders understand the “need for speed” but few are fully aware of the numerous available action steps that can dramatically speed up hiring decisions. This article is designed to stimulate the thinking of recruiting leaders and recruiters and to make them aware of the 20 different actions that can reduce hiring delays. The easiest to implement actions are listed first under each of the four categories.

Initial Foundation Actions For Improving Speed of Hire

There are four foundation steps that can help you speed up your overall time to hire. They include:

  • Educate everyone on the costs of slow hiring — much of the delay in hiring occurs because recruiters and hiring managers are not fully aware of the tremendous costs created by slow hiring. Having key and revenue generating positions vacant for a prolonged period of time dramatically reduces productivity and revenue generation. Handling overloads also tires team members and increases the likelihood of turnover because of the prolonged vacancies. Show them the direct link between hire quality and fewer hiring days.
  • Make everyone aware of where the roadblocks are— recruiting leaders should use “funnel metrics.” Use them to determine which of the hiring steps take the most time and which roadblocks can be most easily minimalized. In most cases, slow hiring manager scheduling and their slow decision making are the top two primary delays.
  • Develop a service level agreement— SLAs add accountability. And by setting measurable expectations, roles, and deadlines, hiring will be sped up dramatically. The SLA should require hiring managers to be available for interviews, to review resumes, and make hiring decisions within a specified number of days.
  • Expedite requisition approvals— have an “auto-approval date” for the requisitions for “expedited jobs” so that a job requisition moves forward automatically if a higher-level manager fails to act within the allocated time. 

Reducing Delays During Candidate Sourcing

The six best ways to reduce delays during the sourcing process include:

  • Post jobs simultaneously externally and internally— reduce your overall job posting time by posting the job both internally and externally at the same time. Focus on the sources that attract new candidates faster, like Indeed.
  • Create a talent pipeline/talent community this most effective approach focuses on identifying talent in key jobs long before an opening occurs. This “pre-need” approach eliminates the need for the common chaotic “just-in-time” sourcing. It also provides you with adequate lead time, so that you can slowly assess the skills and check the references of the identified top prospects from a distance. Nestlé Purina filled 43 percent of its jobs immediately using this pipeline approach.
  • Evergreen jobs — this approach designates important high-volume jobs as “always open.” And that means that sourcing can be continuously seeking them out and with an always open requisition. You can make a hire immediately without the delay of having to get a new requisition approved.
  • Instant referrals— this “we-need-candidates-today” approach notifies employees of an urgent job opening that must be filled immediately. The approach can start with something as simple as a sandwich board in the lobby or the cafeteria announcing the critical need. Because the approach is only used sporadically, it gets everyone to focus on finding candidates immediately.
  • Focus on candidates who are fast and safe— former top-performing employees (corporate alumni) are the high-probability-of-success candidates who you can hire rapidly, because you already know their performance and that they fit your culture. The next fast and safe group of candidates are referrals from your top performers, who seldom recommend anyone that isn’t top-notch. Silver medalists are often rank No. 3 as fast and safe hires.
  • A national hiring day this now-mainstream approach publicizes the fact that a firm is hiring thousands of employees all on a single day. It creates a great deal of free publicity and a buzz about working for the firm. It also adds value because hiring managers only need to focus on hiring for a single day.

Reducing Delays During Interviewing And Assessment

Candidate assessment can contain the most delays of any recruiting step. Here are the nine best steps to reduce any delays.

  • Act quickly when top candidates apply — when a top candidate applies for one of your key jobs, act quickly before they are off the job market. First find a way to immediately conduct a telephone interview to assess them. And then use the fact that a top candidate is applying as a signal that you need to accelerate your entire hiring process for this particular job. Another alert signal should be the fact that a top candidate appears to have pending offers.
  • Online interview scheduling — interview scheduling can be the No. 1 delay factor. So, consider providing candidates with a website scheduling tool that allows them to pick from available hiring manager interview times.
  • Interview Fridays to ensure that hiring managers are sufficiently available for interviews, some firms have required their hiring managers with open jobs to be available for interviews during the entire day each Friday.
  • Reduce the number of interviews— research by Google revealed that after two interviews, very little assessment accuracy is added. And after four interviews with a single individual, almost no assessment value is added. In addition to saving time, reducing the number of interviews can reduce candidate frustration.
  • Offer off-hour interview slots attempting to schedule interviews with candidates who are employed almost always takes a great deal of time. So offering interview slots after work hours or during the weekend can make many more employed candidates available for interviews.
  • Simultaneous reference checking— rather than waiting until the final candidate is selected, simultaneously checking the references of the two top candidates (using a vendor with an electronic process) during the same time as their final interviews can save a significant amount of time.
  • Use telephone and live video interviews — for the first round of interviews, use telephone interviews because they are easier to schedule and they don’t require travel. “Speed dating” type interviews can also be used to reduce the time it takes to identify both top-quality and unacceptable candidates. For the second round of interviews, remote video interviews also reduce travel and scheduling roadblocks. In addition, these recorded videos can be instantly revisited to build your confidence in any accelerated hiring decision.
  • Same-day interviews— using this approach, you schedule all interviews of all finalist candidates on the same day. Holding all interviews on a single day also makes it much easier to compare candidates side by side. And having all day to assess a candidate also provides much more time to make sure that the assessment is broad and thorough.
  • Use a hiring committee— many individual managers hire infrequently. And as a result, their decision making tends to be slow and their selling ability is often out of date. Firms like Google and Intuit have found that a well-trained permanent hiring committee with a structured process is clearly superior in both speed and decision quality. The fact that committee members are involved in hiring so frequently makes it much easier for them to make fast and accurate decisions.

Reducing Delays During the Candidate Closing Process

The closing process itself can be quite slow. So it makes sense to include two components that can speed up the closing of the finalist candidate.

  • Same-day salary quote— unfortunately waiting for the compensation department to arrive at a fair compensation offer can be a major delay factor. So developing a process that allows compensation to make their determination accurately in a single day can be a great timesaver.
  • Same-day offers and same-day hiring— in some cases it may simply not be possible to land a top-quality candidate with multiple offers unless you have the capability of making a hiring decision in a single day. Same-day hiring begins by scheduling the top two finalists for an all-day assessment session. After the assessments are completed, an offer is made to the best candidate at the end of the day. Under the same-day hiring variation, the finalist is strongly encouraged or incented (with an exploding bonus) to accept the offer before they leave the building.

Final Thoughts

If you have your finger on the pulse of the job market, you already know that the competition for talent with specialized skills is intense. This competition means that top candidates are getting multiple offers. And that means that if you don’t dramatically increase your hiring speed to less than 10 days, you may lose every one of your top candidates. In fact, a Robert Half “timing is everything” survey revealed that when faced with a lengthy hiring process, nearly 6 out of 10 (57 percent of candidates) will pursue other roles or stay put in their current job. In my view as the leading advocate for speed of hire over several decades, it’s time to build a powerful competitive advantage in recruiting by dramatically reducing the time it takes to hire top talent by up to 50 percent.


Authors note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips, please follow or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Published on  03/19/18

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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