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Best Practices in Reducing Time to Hire

As the economic downturn of 2008 becomes a distant memory, a growing number of employers are finding that the tide is turning when it comes to competing for talent. It wasn’t that long ago when employers became relatively complacent from a hiring standpoint—it was an employer’s market. But all of that is changing as baby boomers are finally beginning to leave the workplace and as organizations find themselves becoming more dependent on technologically competent staff members.

With a shrinking supply of workers available to meet the growing number of job openings, employees are now in the driver’s seat, often finding themselves in the enviable position of needing to choose between two or more offers.

What does that mean for employers? It means that the company, recruiter, hiring manager or HR professional able to “make the first move” in terms of extending an offer is likely to land the top candidates.

Unfortunately, time-to-hire is a metric that has been steadily growing. According to a Glassdoor study of “hiring delays,” hiring decisions can take as long as 53.8 days (in the government sector) and 32.6 days in the aerospace and defense sector. The specific jobs with the longest lag times between interview and offer are professor (60.3 days), business systems analyst (44.8 days) and research scientist (44.6 days). At the low end of the spectrum are jobs for retail representatives, delivery drivers (both at 8.5 days) and waiter (8.0 days).

It is both ironic, and unfortunate, that the jobs requiring the highest level of talent, and representing the greatest competition, take the longest in terms of time-to-hire. The ability to reduce time-to-hire can help.

According to Glassdoor research, “company-specific factors explain about 14.7 percent of variation in hiring delays around the world, about twice as much as job-specific factors, or factors like industry, location and company size. That means that you have the power to turn these numbers around and to boost the odds that you’ll get to top candidates, first, with an offer they won’t refuse.

A Monster.com blog post by senior contributing writer John Rossheim offers some practical tips to help drive those numbers down:

  • Get consensus on the job profile. When those involved in the hiring decision don’t agree on the type of candidate they’re looking for, delays are inevitable. Don’t assume this agreement. Identify, up front, the knowledge, skills and abilities that will define top candidates and make sure those are communicated thoroughly to your staffing partner.
  • If you are not working with a staffing agency, get input from managers to help source candidates. A dialogue between managers and HR can help to identify some potential sources of candidates. HR staff members are likely not as familiar with niche sources of candidates as hiring managers are. That dialogue can help to identify specific channels that can yield good results.
  • Screen applications in bulk. “Make resume screening an intensive, short-duration effort and you may be able to reduce your time-to-hire by weeks,” writes Rossheim.
  • Streamline high-volume phone interviews. Tina Hamilton, president of HireVision Group, suggested to Rossheim that phone interviews can be streamlined by asking the important questions first. The interview can then be concluded when it becomes apparent the candidate will not be a good fit.
  • Get managers comfortable with interviewing. Managers are a critical part of the hiring process, but need to be trained to fulfill their roles effectively. Help ensure that they will handle their decision-making process efficiently by providing them with the tools and training they may need.
  • Consolidate individual interviews. Some companies have found that bringing in a group of candidates all at one time can provide a good sense of how these potential employees interact with others in a stressful setting, and can help to shorten the process.
  • Consolidate first-round interviews. Schedule individual interviews, once you’ve narrowed the field, but group them within a day or two of each other to avoid stretching out the process.
  • Have candidates show their skills. Certain positions lend themselves to asking the candidate to demonstrate their proficiency. Send out these assignments in advance and ask candidates to submit prior to their interview.
  • Wrap up recruitment promptly. When all candidates have been interviewed, wrap it up! Make a decision that ties back to your job profile as quickly as possible.

There’s one caveat here, though. While it is certainly importance to work at reducing time-to-hire to up the odds that you’ll get an offer to a desirable candidate first, you don’t simply want to “settle” for a warm body. “Don’t hire in haste,” cautions Rossheim. It’s good advice.

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