While reviewing resumes is the first step on the road to vetting potential hires, it's meeting with those candidates that's generally the most cumbersome aspect of filling open positions. The interview process lasts 23.8 days, on average, in the U.S., but in some industries, it can take considerably longer.
But that's problematic for a number of reasons. First, a lengthy interview process costs companies more money. Secondly, it increases the risk of losing out on strong candidates who get frustrated with the notion of having to wait so long for a job offer, or who get snatched up by other companies that are willing to bust a move.
If your company has a tendency to drag out the interview process or put candidates needlessly through the ringer, it's time to rethink your approach to hiring. Otherwise, your business stands to lose out in more ways than one.
How much is too much?
In some companies, the interview process can drag out for weeks or even months, with candidates coming in on four or more occasions to meet with various executives and hiring managers. Going forward, however, you may want to think twice before putting prospective hires through a third interview or more. According to Adecco, 87 percent of candidates think having to attend more than two job interviews is not acceptable. If your current practice exceeds that limit, consider the fact that you may not only be putting a needless strain on your own resources, but on candidates' time as well.
Of course, the danger of rushing through things too quickly is choosing the wrong person for the job, and that's not a risk your company can afford to take. A better bet, therefore, is to achieve some sort of middle ground scenario where you're investing a decent amount of time into the interview process without going overboard.
A more efficient way to screen and hire candidates
If your current screening process isn't as efficient as it could be, start by being more judicious about the way you review resumes. Establishing a more concise set of criteria can help you weed out candidates who aren't likely to fulfill the requirements for a particular role.
Next, consider performing all initial interviews with candidates as phone screens, as opposed to in-person meetings. Phone calls are a lot easier for prospective hires to work into their own schedules, but they offer much of the insight you'll get with a face-to-face meeting. Personality can shine through in a phone conversation, and it's an easy way to check off some of the basic questions you need to cover before deciding whether to move forward.
Once you reach the point where you want to invite a candidate to an in-person interview, take steps to ensure that that discussion is a productive one. Make sure you can arrange for all pertinent personnel to be available for that live meeting, and have your different interviewers provide their feedback in a timely fashion so you can follow up accordingly. If further questions do arise after that in-person interview, and you need another meeting, consider doing one over the phone once again. Or, bring the candidate in once more, but commit to either passing or extending an offer very shortly thereafter.
Along these lines, have your offer letters ready to go in advance of your final decision. You may need to tweak a few details last-minute, but having those documents pre-drafted will help you avoid further delays.
Remember, when you drag out the interview process, you don't just turn off current candidates in your pipeline; you get a reputation as being one of those businesses with a painfully slow hiring and onboarding system. And when you're looking to attract top talent, that's not what you want. Though there's no professional standard dictating what constitutes "just right" versus "too long" with regard to the interview process, one thing's for sure: The more expeditious you are, the better.
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This article was originally published on The Motley Fool. It is reprinted with permission.