The Recruiting Time Crunch

by Robin Schooling
7 May 2015


There are some well known stories recounted in the book Work Rules! (Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations) about Google’s hiring process. By the mid 2000’s, because hiring managers and leaders were hyper-focused on finding candidates with the right cultural fit, it could take up to six months to fill an open position. Candidates were interviewed 15 – 25 times (wow!), and most leaders spent one day per week (20 percent of their time) on hiring. After some internal analysis, including a review of the number of interviews that were sufficient to predict candidate success, the time to hire was cut down from 180 days to 47 days.

Bock discusses this process in the book: “by trimming interviews and streamlining in other ways, the time the average Google employee spent a week on hiring-related activities dropped from four to 10 hours in 2008, when the company had approximately 20,000 employees, to 1½ hours in 2013, when the company’s head count was twice as large.”

Naturally, this is a specific – and extreme - example; we’re not all Google. Yet, as we’ve recently seen, it still takes an average of 26 working days for employers to fill open positions. 

But no matter the organization or industry, hiring efficiently is vitally important.

A slow recruiting and hiring process can derail the success of your business.

You probably know that.

When the time to source, recruit, interview and select new employees takes too long there are any number of bad things waiting to happen. Your existing employees will get frustrated, as they must do additional work for an extended period of time. You’ll lose in-demand candidates because they’re not going to wait around for you to take action. You’ll probably also damage, over time, the employer brand you’ve worked so hard to build and highlight.

It’s a challenge isn’t it? But it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.

Finding ways to streamline your recruiting and hiring process by removing unnecessary steps and utilizing more effective resources can lead to a quicker time-to-fill average and make sure you’re devoting your time, energy and dollars to the elements of hiring that garner the greatest results. 

Operational Phase

Many of the tasks at the beginning part of the recruiting cycle can be optimized for speed. Typically it’s at this stage that a requisition is created, whether for a new position or to replace a departing employee. The requisition goes through an internal approval process, sometimes requiring multiple approvals and signatures, and the job is finally posted. Depending upon the organization, the job may be posted internally for a set number of days before it’s posted externally, while sometimes this occurs simultaneously. People being people and bureaucracies being bureaucracies, I have seen in some companies this part of the process take 10 – 14 days. That’s ridiculous.

Talent Attraction Phase

Kicking off the actual sourcing and recruiting process usually involves an intake meeting between the recruiter and the hiring manager. It’s at this juncture that experienced recruiters will create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that outlines the recruitment/hiring process and the responsibilities of both parties (recruiter and hiring manager). Working with a recruiter solely focused on talent attraction is a plus; s/he will be able to clarify steps and even educate the hiring manager on the search strategy.

This is particularly important when the position is one that might be difficult to fill and for which there is no existing pipeline of candidates at the recruiter’s disposal. The time-strapped HR generalist who is also managing Federal and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) compliance, employee investigations and planning the annual service awards dinner is often, despite her best intentions, pulled in too many directions to focus on these details.

Hiring and Selection Phase

Once recruiters have successfully identified, qualified and screened available candidates, the hiring manager (or hiring team) goes into action. While they may receive assistance in scheduling interviews or extending offers, it’s the hiring manager making the decision to select the right candidate; if candidates have been pre-qualified and their skills/backgrounds already verified, this can lessen the time needed at the end of the interview process. 

From start to finish, hiring takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. When we lather, rinse and repeat for every job opening, it’s easy to see why the time-strapped HR leader, business owner or hiring manager gets overwhelmed.

But there are multiple opportunities to introduce efficiencies:

  • We can effectively use technology to manage the operational aspects of the process.
  • We can partner with strong recruiters to source, qualify, screen and present candidates quickly.
  • We can make sure our hiring managers have the skills and support to interview and make selection decisions.

We got this. And you can Google that.

Robin Schooling is on a mission to make organizations better by making HR better.  You can read her blog, follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.