As 2017 comes to a close with the holiday season in full swing, starting the new hire process for next year may be the last thing on your mind. Yet according to The Accounting Principal's Holiday Bonus & Hiring Survey, the majority of businesses are in the midst of planning their 2018 hiring right now. And it's taking longer than ever before to complete the hiring process. Why is that? We’re digging into why it takes longer to hire, the pros and cons of a lengthier process, and how to hire more efficiently and effectively for 2018.
The Story Behind a Lengthier Hiring Process
The Accounting Principal survey, which polled over 500 U.S. Human Resources and hiring managers, found that 59% of respondents said it takes more than a month to complete a typical hire in 2017. In 2016, just 46% of respondents said hiring a new candidate took longer than a month.
In 2017, the full hiring process takes an average of 8 weeks, or 2 weeks more than it did in 2016.
A 2017 Glassdoor survey of job seekers worldwide also found that it’s taking longer than ever before to get hired. In the United States, job seekers reported that it took an average of 23.8 days to get hired in the first six months of 2017, compared to just 22.9 days according to Glassdoor’s 2015 survey results.
Executive coach Rod Brace says this lengthier process is because today’s business world moves fast, is more complicated than previously, and because of the perceived need to hire for increasingly specialized positions and global skills.
“The speed and complexity at which organizations must operate continue to increase,” says Brace, who has over 30 years of c-suite experience and holds PhD and MBA degrees in management. He explains that the specialization of roles, coupled with an increase in the international scope of companies, requires “greater precision when hiring employees who must have a specific skill base to navigate the complexities of specialization, as well as the emotional intelligence and agility to operate across multiple cultures.”
According to Brad Owens, Culture Coach and host of a popular HR and hiring business podcast, many organizations want to hire candidates for specific skill sets instead of their cultural fit with a company, and this contributes to lengthening the hiring process.
“Hiring in late 2017 and into 2018 takes a bit longer than it has in the past mostly because of the perception of a tight talent market,” he says. “I believe this has to do with a shift towards hiring for specific skill sets instead of cultural fits with the ability to learn a skill set. When companies set out to find their next employee with tight specifications, it will take longer to find that person.”
Another key ingredient contributing to longer hiring processes is the requirement for more in-depth background checks on candidates, a factor that Brace says has developed partly due to the rise of social media.
“The stakes are higher than ever for companies related to the risk of an employee creating a negative impression with the proliferation of social media,” he says. Brace explains that a single employee can negatively project their beliefs, attitudes, and biases as a viral social media post, making them an unofficial and unintended representative of a company.
“Given this risk, HR departments must be more vigorous with background checks, drug screenings and behavioral interviewing; all of which take additional time.”
The Pros and Cons of a Longer Hiring Process
According to The Accounting Principal’s findings, companies that take “too long” to make a hire miss the opportunity to hire the best candidate for the position. Yet as Brace cautions, the importance of hiring the right people requires care and attention - and this takes time.
“Humans truly are the most valuable assets of a company,” says Brace. “Yet, leaders will often take far more time and deliberation related to the purchase of equipment. If leaders believe that the productivity and success of their organization is directly related to employing highly engaged people, the expenditure of more time and money on the hiring process is well worth the expense and effort.”
Brace explains that it simply takes time for hiring executives to “use thoughtful discernment related to whether a person is simply good at interviewing, versus whether they are a great fit for the organization.”
Owens believes that longer hiring processes are generally good if they’re due to additional assessment that will save a company time and money in the long-run.
“I'd rather companies take a long time to assess cultural fit of an applicant before extending job offers,” he says. “Hiring the wrong employee who leaves within their first year can cost you up to 15 times their annual salary. It's important to get hiring right.”
Related: 6 Reasons You’re Missing Out on Talented Hires
Change Your Hiring Practices: Review Number & Type of Screening Layers
As the Glassdoor 2017 survey noted, organizations have limited control over some factors, such as industry and location, when it comes to the length of time it takes to complete the hiring process. And sometimes it just takes longer to find candidates for specific job types. Yet more than job title factors and all other factors, the Glassdoor survey found that considerations that are within a company’s control have the biggest impact when it comes to creating a more efficient hiring process.
For example, organizations can choose the number of screening processes used when recruiting and interviewing candidates - the more “layers” in the process, the longer it will take. And team-based interviews, which require agreement from several individuals to move a candidate forward, can also add to the time it takes to hire.
For each screening process, ask how much the benefit it provides (ie. more accurately identifying the best candidate) outweighs the value of filling an empty role faster. At the same time, balance the value of a fast hire against the risk of a bad hire that will negatively impact the company over time.
“In the long-run, efficient hiring practices should be measured, not on the speed at which an employee is located and placed into service, but rather on the long-view of whether the employee hired makes a significant contribution to the organization,” says Brace. He says that when employee turnover is high, yet the time to hire is low, the organization has missed the point of the hiring practice, which is to create a team of loyal, effective employees.
“While the hiring process should be efficient, in order to not lose good candidates to more nimble competitors, speed of hiring should not be the sole determinant of success.”
Change Your Hiring Policies: Consider Culture Fit to Reduce Hiring Process Time
Owens believes that a key method to shorten the interview stage of the hiring process is to consider the cultural fit of each candidate.
“Companies can create more efficient interview processes by focusing on cultural fit,” says Owens. “Interviewers should assess a candidate's fit with their cultural values before diving into any type of skillset test or interview. Unfortunately, most companies today are approaching hiring in the exact opposite way.”
To better attract suitable candidates, Owens suggests reviewing your job description. “If it resembles a list of requirements instead of the reasons someone would want to work with you, you need to re-evaluate what you're screening for.”
Related: Maintaining a Vibrant Company Culture: Why You Should Hire, Promote, and Terminate Based on Company Values
Harness Today’s HR Tech to Streamline Your Hiring Processes
Another way to prevent lengthy hiring processes that could cost you suitable candidates involves harnessing the power of today’s technology. The right programs can help enterprise companies streamline previously time-consuming and labor-intensive parts of the process
Today’s technology offers a variety of efficient online mobile hiring and onboarding services to simplify the way organizations hire employees. For example, an HR platform may allow users to automate interview requests. It may also act as a central hub for all interviewers to offer feedback on candidates, allowing them to rank and identify top candidates quickly and easily. It could also send out rejection emails efficiently, and automate the hiring process with offer letters, background checks, employment history, and reference checks.
Selecting and successfully hiring the best people to fill your company’s open roles is an important endeavor that deserves attention and care. At the same time, needless delays could cost you star candidates who are also interviewing with your competitors. Review your hiring practices, policies, and technology today to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your hiring process for 2018.