Time: A virus to the hiring process

The Doctor, a movie from 1991 starring William Hurt, tells the story of an egotistical heart surgeon who treats his patients like names on a list. When he gets sick and is treated in a similar manner, he realizes how his patients must have felt. Consider how this applies to the candidate/company relationship. If hiring managers used a better “bedside manner” with their candidates, many of the ills of bad hiring practices, including lengthy timelines, would be cured!

When you are a candidate, each day feels like an eternity as you wait to hear the results or next steps of the interview process. Let’s take a closer look at what happens when the process is sickened by the time virus and the “bedside manner” could be improved.

Candidates self-diagnose

When a candidate doesn’t receive timely feedback, they may start having negative, inaccurate thoughts that destroy the positive feelings and momentum your hiring process had until that point. Thoughts like: “They don’t like me,” “I must be their second choice,” “They’re moving forward with someone else,” or “They don’t know what they want.” Time can cause candidates to rationalize why it’s better not to be chosen and begin to second guess their interest in your organization.

It sends a message about the company culture

If your hiring process is slow, candidates may believe your organization is an unwieldy, bureaucratic environment. Candidates often draw conclusions about treatment of current employees based on your process. Does the speed of your hiring process reflect your company culture?

It sends a message about your ability to make a decision

As a hiring manager, the process reflects on you as much as it does on your organization. Most candidates want to work for a strong, decisive leader. If expectations aren’t well-managed, time can cause candidates to question your abilities. Hiring managers may delay making a decision, hoping the answer will come to them. As stated in the song Freewill by Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

Candidates disappear

It is a candidate’s market and strong candidates will be hired by someone else. Even if you’ve located a passive candidate (someone who wasn’t actively seeking opportunities), that doesn’t mean you can afford to lengthen the hiring process. If they are open to talking to you, they will likely evaluate other options as well.

You forget the details about a candidate

If you let the process drag on, you risk forgetting why you liked a candidate or what concerns you wanted to address.

There are several important, but straightforward antidotes for addressing the time virus in your hiring process:

Know what you need

Often, a search begins before the hiring manager pinpoints the hiring profile. What is the ideal candidate? Which experiences and traits are required and which are preferred? If you know what you are looking for, be confident in your ability to assess/interview for those attributes.

Keep the process moving

Having the right team is critical to your success and vacancies need to be your priority. Minimize the risk of time by communicating timing expectations with the candidate, especially if there are expected but uncontrollable scheduling conflicts that may slow your process.

When you find what you need, act quickly!

It’s common to want to interview additional candidates after finding “the one.” This is a symptom of not being confident in your own hiring abilities or having not properly defined what you need. It’s like buying a house. You find the perfect house, but want to look at a few more just to be sure, only to discover that it was perfect and is no longer available when you’re ready to make an offer.

It is important not to mistake this advice for shortcutting your hiring process. Instead, focus on eliminating excuses, procrastination, and other bandages put on a broken process. If you act quickly, you’ll earn a quick response to your offer. Many organizations take weeks and even months to make a decision, but expect a candidate to decide in a day or two.

Strong talent is always in demand, and in a candidate’s market, it is even more important that time doesn’t plague your efforts. You spend a lot of time finding and evaluating talent, so don’t let the time virus kill your deal. Remember what it’s like to be in the candidate’s shoes and you’ll easily cure your process. If you don’t, losing the perfect team member due to time may just leave you feeling sick!