How to reduce your time-to-hire

You may want that job filled quickly but rushing the process and getting it wrong could be costly

Finding the right balance between the need to fill a job vacancy quickly and ensuring all the boxes have been ticked in the search to find the right person is a recurring conundrum for recruiters.

The problem is particularly acute when hiring a specialist, or where the war for talent is especially fierce. The cost of a bad hire is, of course, also a significant reason for taking your time, and surveys from various sectors have shown businesses are pickier than ever before.

Google was at one point averaging 20 interviews for each engineering candidate it recruited, though it now admits this was excessive. But Grant Torrens, business director at Hays in Singapore, says: “Companies have their reasons for putting candidates through an extended interview process. It tests their desire to work for the company.”

One easy way to streamline the process, he suggests, is to coordinate the diaries of interviewers more effectively: “Many interviews are one on one, and spaced two to three weeks apart. However, if you can get two or three interviewers to block out their diaries on the same day in consecutive hours, you are able to complete the first few stages of the interview process in one day.”

You might also consider moving part of the process online – if assessments are required, these could be hosted on an online platform and could take place before interviews. And pre-planning interviews to ensure feedback is shared effectively between interviewers can also avoid duplication of effort.

Perhaps the most effective way to reduce your time-to-hire, however, is to back away from the need to find the ‘perfect fit’ for each role. If skills are scarce or your employer brand is lacking, it may be more sensible to hire someone with the right attributes and attitudes to develop into the role, even if they lack the exact experience or qualifications you were hoping for.

“If there are a lot of candidates actively searching for a new position, you can afford to be more specific in your requirements,” says Torrens. “But holding out for a 100 per cent perfect fit in a tight candidate market could mean you will never fill the position.

“If there is a candidate shortage in a skill or competency that can be trained or nurtured in a short period of time, it may make commercial sense to hire that person rather than wait until the perfect match arrives.”

Consider, too, that in the rush to find the right candidate in the market, you could easily overlook your existing employees: could one of them be retrained or given a new opportunity, even if it doesn’t seem like an immediately obvious option?