Hiring Process Getting Longer, Recruiters Say

By Roy Maurer Dec 23, 2015
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Longer time-to-hire coupled with growing competition for skilled candidates is holding companies back from filling needed roles, according to a recent survey of talent acquisition professionals.

Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of 446 recruiters surveyed by global executive search organization MRINetwork said candidates typically receive a job offer three to six weeks after the first interview, compared to the one to four weeks that was cited in previous years of the biannual survey.

Another 19 percent said it takes seven weeks or longer from the first interview for candidates to get an offer. And average time-to-fill is at 63 business days—21 more days than it was five years ago, according to separate data from global research and technology company CEB, based in Arlington, Va.

“An extensive, drawn-out approach to hiring is a protective measure that many companies have kept from the recession, but it is no longer effective to recruit top candidates who expect a swifter process,” said Nysha King, media relations lead for MRINetwork, based in Philadelphia. “This is particularly the case in the executive, managerial and professional labor market, which has become increasingly candidate-driven since 2011 and in 2015 reached an all-time high.”

Ninety percent of recruiters feel the current market is candidate-driven, according to the survey.

The lengthier hiring process is a result of the tightening job market, believes Karen Russo, president of executive search and HR consulting firm K. Russo Consulting, an affiliate of Sanford Rose Associates, based in the New York City area. “The demand for talent is on the rise, and yet many clients feel there is a lack of quality candidates in the candidate pool,” Russo said. “Hence they take more time waiting to see more candidates or don’t feel satisfied when they don’t see the perfect match. Some industries suffer more than others, like health care and financial services—even the trades are operating at a talent deficit.”

Some recruiters are saying that qualification inflation may be to blame for the longer time-to-fill. Laura Mazzullo, owner of East Side Staffing, a New York City-based recruitment firm focused on the placement of HR professionals, said the pressure on managers to demand more experience and skills, above what the job really requires, could be at fault. “Sure, one could argue that there’s a lack of talent, leaving many roles unfilled. I would argue that it’s also due to a hiring manager’s inability to think creatively when sourcing.”

Not surprisingly, as the hiring process is getting longer, rejected job offers are increasing.

According to the MRINetwork survey, the acceptance of another job offer continues to be the leading reason that job offers are turned down (44 percent), increasing 7 percentage points from the first half of 2015. In addition to accepting other offers, low compensation packages (25 percent) and counteroffers (14 percent) were also top reasons for rejected offers.

Most job offers continue to be rejected after two to three interviews (80 percent), while the time at which job offers are most frequently rejected is three to four weeks after the first interview (40 percent).

Overall, most recruiters surveyed (73 percent) reported a rejection rate of 10 percent or less.

Too Many Candidates, Too Many Interviews?

A variety of factors could be contributing to the longer time it takes to fill jobs, including the ease of applying for jobs and having too many interview stages, according to experts.

“One of the reasons the recruiting process is taking longer is the sheer number of resumes that are received for each open position,” said John Herath, SHRM-CP, partner and director of human resources at Orion International, the nation’s largest military recruiting firm, based in Raleigh, N.C. “Candidates have many more tools available and technology has made it significantly easier to be made aware of new openings which match their qualifications or desires. Add to that the ease with which they can transmit their resume to the company, and you end up with significantly more candidates to screen than were previously available, whether they are qualified or not.”

Russo said that there could be some “paralysis of analysis” going on, “especially when you can second-guess, research and overanalyze candidates in a process, and take too much time reading a resume or profile instead of interviewing.”

And then there’s the possibility of too many interviews. “We’ve tricked ourselves into believing that taking longer and involving more ‘stakeholder’ or ‘hiring-decision-influencer’ types is the path to better selection,” said Kris Dunn, chief human resource officer and partner at recruitment process outsourcing and HR consulting firm Kinetix, headquartered in Atlanta. “We believe that by having four to five rounds of interviews, we can better determine things like cultural fit. Simply put, it’s not true.”

Dunn implored HR to “stop the five-round interview madness. Do an initial round of interviews and involve as many people as you’d like. Bring back two candidates and make a decision.”

All indications are that hiring will continue to increase in 2016, King said. “Today’s best talent now seek an expedited, responsive, candidate-facing interview process that clearly outlines how their career would benefit from joining your firm. Companies will have to get on board with this if they want to acquire and keep strong talent on their teams.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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