Time to Hire: Why Hiring Speed Matters, and How to Boost Yours

Are you taking too long to get back to qualified candidates during the interview process?

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Time to Hire: Why Hiring Speed Matters and How to Boost Yours

Hiring takes time, but taking too long can be detrimental to your business and brand. As the demand for highly qualified candidates increases, expediting time to hire becomes even more crucial for companies that wish to stay competitive.

Time to hire refers to the amount of time between when a candidate applies for the job to when they accept the job offer. According to a 2021 Robert Half survey, most in-demand candidates (62%) start looking elsewhere if an employer takes 2 weeks (10 business days) or longer to respond following the interview. After 3 weeks, 77% of these candidates move on.

In other words, if you take too long to seal the deal with a qualified candidate, they’ll likely wind up with another employer. You can get a leg up on the competition by shortening your time to hire.

Read on to learn the average time to hire, the risks of not hiring quickly enough, and how to speed up your hiring process without sacrificing your quality of hires.

How long should hiring take?

In a perfect world, hiring managers would hire the most suitable candidates on the spot. However, the hiring process involves many steps, such as:

  • Screening and interviewing candidates
  • Comparing candidates’ qualifications and interview performances
  • Deliberating with members of the hiring team
  • Negotiating with selected candidates
  • Running background checks (vetting candidates)
  • Checking employment references
  • Creating and sending job offers
  • Processing new hire paperwork

Following these steps is essential to avoiding costly hiring mistakes. But if you’re not careful, you could end up spending too much time on hiring. Actually, many employers have fallen in this trap.

The prevalence of this sluggish approach is apparent in the data. A June 2020 – March 2021 study by LinkedIn found that the median time to hire across various industries is 33 to 49 days — much longer than companies should strive for. Robert Half reports that 39% of job candidates consider a wait time of 7 to 14 days too long, and that nearly a quarter of candidates are only willing to wait a week to hear back.

Robert Half reports that 39% of job candidates consider a wait time of 7 to 14 days too long, and that nearly a quarter of candidates are only willing to wait a week to hear back.

What happens if you take too long to hire?

A slow hiring process can cause you to lose qualified candidates. Moreover, extended hiring times and “breadcrumbing” (when candidates feel strung along) can harm your business in several other ways, many of which have long-term consequences. Below are some of the repercussions.

Reputational damage

Customers aren’t the only people your business should aim to please. Consider how applicants might feel about waiting several weeks for a response after interviewing with your company. While some candidates will cut their losses and move on, others will take it personally and warn potential applicants about your lackluster communication and hiring practices. Note that social media platforms and review sites make it easy for dissatisfied applicants to air their grievances.

Competitor advantage

When someone applies for a position at your company, you’re probably not the only employer they’re considering. While you can’t hire every promising candidate, the ones you reject or fail to attract may wind up with one of your competitors. If you keep missing out on top talent, your business will lose its competitive edge as your competitors stack their teams with high-performing employees.

Higher hiring costs

Time is money. The longer it takes to recruit and hire, the more it costs. Cost per hire (CPH) is calculated by dividing internal and external recruiting costs (e.g., hiring team’s salaries, referral programs, background check service fees, etc.) by the total number of hires in a given period of time. You can reduce your CPH by increasing your time to hire.

Operational imbalances

If you’re looking to fill key roles, but take too long to hire, those positions will have to be temporarily covered by current employees with other responsibilities — or simply left vacant. In either case, the staffing problem is likely to upset the operational balance of your business.

Current employees risk burnout or becoming frustrated from having to pick up the slack. If key roles are left unfilled, then productivity and your revenue stream are likely to suffer.

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How to accelerate the hiring process

With so many pitfalls associated with a drawn-out hiring process, it’s vital to consider every solution possible for accelerating time to hire. Below are ways to speed up and improve hiring.

Be more specific

Your job descriptions should be accurate, detailed yet concise in order to attract the most fitting applicants. If your postings are too broad, you’ll have a larger pool to sort through, which bogs down the recruitment and hiring processes.

Keep in touch

Candidates want to know where they stand — so make sure you inform them in a timely manner, regardless of whether you plan to hire them or not.

Even if things are taking longer than you’d like, do not keep applicants guessing. Sending regular updates to top candidates will assure them of your interest and possibly convince them to hang in there.

Candidates want to know where they stand — so make sure you inform them in a timely manner, regardless of whether you plan to hire them or not.

Skip the scramble

As mentioned earlier, hiring is a multifaceted process. The last thing you want is to find a great match only to get buried in paperwork and tangled in endless negotiations. To avoid a “mad rush” scenario, be sure to have all the details in order beforehand. This includes setting compensation ranges, having a streamlined interview process, and knowing who needs to sign off on new hires.

Don’t prioritize perfection

When opening up a position, you probably have an idea of the ideal candidate. While you could end up finding your ideal fit, don’t count on applicants meeting every one of your expectations. Although you should not sacrifice hire quality for the sake of speed, it’s important to not wait for the perfect candidate to come along. Some compromises are just fine and often necessary.

Seek staffing assistance

It might be worth it to enlist the help of a reputable staffing agency. These agencies tend to have access to a significant network of skilled candidates, and can deliver staffing on demand — on a temporary or direct-hire basis. They perform much (if not all) of the hiring legwork, and can substantially shorten time to hire.

Invest in modern HR/payroll technology

Integrated HR and payroll software is another key investment for businesses looking to increase hiring speed. The integrated system facilitates, streamlines, and speeds up the following processes:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Employee training
  • HR administration
  • Benefits administration
  • Payroll administration

Avoid lengthy time to hire

Spending too long on hiring is not only costly but also avoidable. Preventable measures include crafting well-written job descriptions, keeping candidates in the know, making realistic hiring choices, and taking advantage of modern HR/payroll technology.

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