Why is it taking so long for companies to hire?

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Print this page by Rachel Bender Meyer

If you have interviewed anywhere over the past couple of years, you may have experienced some frustration with the interview process.  Specifically, the time it takes for the company to make a hiring decision.  Having worked in the staffing industry for over 15 years, I can certainly understand and appreciate the interview selection and interview process.  However, I am sometimes baffled by the extremely long duration of time it takes some companies to hire for some of their roles.  So, I went to look for the reasons, and hopefully some answers, to this question.

Reasons companies take so long to hire

More people are involved in the decision making process – Alevia Colombell, director of business operations at Areotek said it is taking longer for her clients to hire and make a final decision because they are involving more people in the decision making process to “cover themselves” to try to avoid a bad hire.

A more thorough interview process


– Justin May, Talent Acquisition Manager at MWV indicated, yes, companies are being more thorough in the hiring process. Because, as Justin says, the key to MWV’s success is the talented employees they hire, he takes this responsibility very seriously and follows a careful process to find the right fit for each role.  When you combine this with multiple candidates who are outside of the area and the busy schedules of senior leaders who want to be involved in the interview process, this can stretch out the length of time it takes to bring a candidate through the process, but it’s worth it in the end for everyone.

Lack of available, skilled talent – Even though we are in a tough economy and there are many people out there still looking for a job, many companies are finding it hard to find the skilled talent they are looking for to fill their niche roles.  Dina Hagerich, Manager of Recruiting for Owens & Minor, said these kids of roles are tough to fill because they are looking for passive candidates who are already happily employed, so they really need to sell their culture.

The role changes during the interview process – Arnie Strebe, Chief Talent and Business Improvement Officer at Evergreen Enterprises and Plow and Hearth, said one of the reasons their hiring process takes so long is because the hiring mangers change their minds on what they’re looking for once they have interviewed a couple of candidates.
Cultural fit – Dina indicated that cultural fit is a huge factor for them because their organization is so unique stating that is why the company is who it is today.  They are focused on getting the right person who gets that.  It is quality over time. 

Recommendations to shorten the hire time

More people are involved in the decision making process – While it is important to get buy in from the key players, it is also important to note that the more people you involve in the process, the harder it will be to get a consensus on the right candidate.  Be sure you include only those people who are critical decision makers to the final decision making.  You can involve others in the interview, but keep the final decision making team to no more than 3 people.

A more thorough interview process – Having a thorough interview process is critical to ensure you are making the right choice for the talent you are seeking to hire.  Be sure you have a streamlined process in place along with a timeline that will keep your managers accountable and on track.  Block time off on your hiring mangers calendars according to the timeline so that you already have interview slots available for scheduling.  This will also allow you to communicate expectations to the candidate you are interviewing.

Lack of available, skilled talent – Now, more than ever, recruiters have to be very creative in finding the niche talent they are looking for.  While the internet and sites such as LinkedIn are invaluable resources, you can not rely only on these tools.  You need to pick up the phone and reach actively reach out to these candidates and sell them on the job.  Sometimes all it takes is that personal touch.  However, when all else fails (or when you lack the internal resources), there are many staffing agencies out there who can assist you in finding the Talent you need.  Some agencies can help with just parts of your search that you need help with, such as sourcing qualified candidates.  I guarantee the results they can provide are well worth the fee.

The role changes during the interview process – This is a common issue among organizations.  The best way to avoid this is to be sure you are doing your work on the front end.  All of the key decision makers need to be in agreement with what you are looking for in a candidate.  Technical and behavioral requirements, years of experience, education, compensation range, relocation, industry, etc.  Everyone needs to sign off on this profile before any recruiting begins on the opening. 

Cultural fit – Understandably, cultural fit is important, but be sure your managers are not using this as an excuse to discount a fully qualified candidate.  As Alevia suggested, have more faith in your ability to get people up to speed and culturally aligned around core competencies.  Do not lower the bar, but try not to place too many unachievable requirements on this bar.

For those of you who are currently interviewing, Alevia said to be aggressive and professionally persistent.  Ask about the timeline and what the next steps are.  Be direct and call the hiring manager if you have anything after your interview.  Justin takes this as an indication of interest in the role from the candidate.  He said that while it may take longer to get someone through process, be patient, an offer could be coming soon.

For recruiters, Dina asks that you keep an open mind for those who have some gaps in their career.  People are doing what they can to meet their family and financial obligations.  She asks that you look beyond the duration of the roles they have held and more into their skills.  Sometimes the job hopping you see on their resumes is not their fault; it is just a symptom of the economy.

Rachel Bender Meyer is director of HR talent at the Richmond-based Titan Group.

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