Don’t Keep a Job Applicant Waiting

“Thank you; we’ll be in touch shortly.” When you say that to a job applicant, you should mean it.

In 2021, taking too long to hire is one of the biggest mistakes an employer can make. Open positions outnumber qualified applicants. And once they’ve been interviewed, applicants aren’t likely to wait very long. Allow them to think you’re not interested, and you may lose them to other firms.

Surveys and statistics bear this out. According to Glassdoor, the average hiring process for a private-sector job in 2017 was almost 24 days. Today? A recent report by one prominent consulting firm found that almost half of job applicants lose interest in a firm if they haven’t heard back from it within one to two weeks after the initial interviews.

Many hiring managers feel caught between a rock and a hard place. Statistics and surveys don’t lie. But if they cut corners and make an offer to someone before they’re truly ready to, they risk bringing onboard some “bad hires.” So, what’s the answer?

The obvious choice for many is to hire an independent staffing agency – one that has the experience and manpower to find the right person for you. By devoting their full attention to you and your needs, they can take significant time and guesswork out of the hiring equation. If you choose to conduct the hiring process inhouse, there are concrete measures you can take to make timeliness an important part of the equation.

First, make sure you’re ready to hire. Has everyone in the chain of command agreed that a new employee is needed? What will that person’s specific duties be? Who will he or she report to? What salary range can you offer? Be sure you know the answers to these questions before you even advertise the position.

Next, write a detailed job description. This will help you in the early stages of hiring, when you’re looking through a mountain of resumes. If a particular applicant doesn’t have the skills or experience you’re looking for, that’s one fewer resume to keep on hand.

Set a timeline for bringing a new person on board, and make sure everyone who’s involved in the hiring process knows to stick to it. Conduct initial interviews by phone or Zoom. Then, when you’re ready to bring the remaining candidates in for full interviews, set aside one or two days in which to conduct them all. Take detailed notes when speaking with candidates, to make it easier to compare two or more of them, later. Keep the timeline short – perhaps as few as seven days, if possible. Tell your applicants they can expect to hear from you within that time. And most of all, mean it.

By hiring quickly, you not only increase the chances of getting the person you want. You also signal to current employees that their time is valuable. After all, who’s doing the extra work until your new hire is in place? Hiring quickly also means keeping your company’s productivity up, which often leads to bigger profits. But perhaps most important, by conducting the hiring process in a timely manner, you also protect your company’s reputation as one that fosters a culture of respect.