Minimize Costs by Reducing Time to Hire

It’s a hallmark of the dysfunctional organization: A requisition is opened for a new line-manager position, but it takes 4 months to make a hire. By which time thousands of dollars have been spent on misguided recruitment efforts, six figures of revenue have been lost, and the HR department and the hiring manager are barely speaking to each other.

Make no mistake about it: a prolonged time-to-hire means opportunities lost and resources wasted. How can your company reduce time-to-hire while containing recruitment costs and minimizing the expense of a critical position going vacant? Here are some of the best ideas we’ve heard.

Get Active Consensus on the Job Profile

First things first: Get everyone to agree on what the job is. “Few companies have taken the time to write the profile and discriminate between what’s desired and what’s required,” says Lee Salz, president of Sales Architects in Minneapolis. Even the nature of the core responsibilities of an open position can become an issue in today’s organizational culture. “Where you have a given position that reports to two or three managers, if they have differing ideas of what the job entails, it’s not going to work,” says Fiona Brookwell, a consultant with PI Europe in Surrey, England. And time will be wasted.

Help Recruiters Source Qualified Candidates

If you want to hire in the shortest reasonable interval, don’t doom your recruiters’ initial efforts by expecting them to read your mind. “Managers are used to calling internal recruiters and saying, ‘Hey, find me some great people,’ with no further input,” says Salz. “You have to give recruiters the tools they need to be successful in filling the position.” If you don’t, you’ll waste time screening and interviewing candidates who shouldn’t have made the first cut. It is also critical to ensure that advertising budget is spent effectively.

Screen Applications in Bulk

It’s tempting to manage the burden of screening hundreds of resumes and cover letters by dividing it into small batches that can be tackled as minor to-dos in 15-minute increments. But no matter how good a multi-tasker you are, you’ll be more effective if you schedule an hour or more to wrap your brain around a complex field of applicants and get the job done in just a few days. Make resume screening an intensive, short-duration effort and you may be able to reduce your time-to-hire by weeks.

Streamline High-Volume Phone Interviews

“When you conduct the phone interview, ask the questions in order of importance,” says Tina Hamilton, president of HireVision Group in Whitehall, Pa. “You can end the call when it’s apparent that the candidate doesn’t qualify. Some calls will last just minutes, and few will last an hour.” Time saved is money saved.

Get Managers Comfortable with Interviewing

For most people, putting interviewees on the spot – even for good reason – doesn’t come naturally. “Managers need to be trained in behavioral interviewing,” says Roberta Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions in Northampton, Mass. “Often managers will put off interviews because they are uncomfortable conducting them. Great candidates are lost, recruitment dollars are wasted,” and time to hire goes up.

Consolidate First-Round Interviews

Consider introducing group dynamics – and economies of scale – to your initial interviews. “We interview between 6 and 10 candidates for a single position,” says Cathy Chin, an HR manager for I Love Rewards in Toronto, Canada. “It’s a great way to screen prospective employees for fit as you are building your corporate culture, and it lets you see how they interact.”

Consolidate Individual Interviews

Even when you’ve selected candidates for serious consideration, the interviewing process can stretch out by a month or more if you let it. “If you have to interview five people, try to get them to come in on the same day,” says Jeff Whittenberg, a recruiter with Kaye Bassman International in Plano, Texas. “That can make it a one-day process instead of five weeks.” Wouldn’t you like to fill that revenue-producing sales job sooner rather than later?

Have Candidates Show Their Skills

Cut to the chase and find out quickly how your finalists think, how they present themselves, and how enterprising they can be. “Two days before the second interview, we give candidates a case study and ask them to prepare a PowerPoint based on it,” says Chin. What’s more costly than finding out too late that a new hire can’t produce?

Wrap Up Recruitment Promptly

Buck up: Choosing the candidate to receive an offer is often a difficult and complex decision. But “sleeping on it” only makes the decision more tortured, as interviewers’ impressions of the finalists begin to blur. Within a day of concluding interviews, summon the decision-makers to an end-of-day meeting and promise each other not to adjourn until you’ve agreed on the winner.

Don’t Hire in Haste

Still, “there is little value in making bad hires quickly,” writes Steve Hunt on Your commitment to an intensive recruitment process is no excuse for cutting corners. You’ve still got to do background checks and make sure your offer will stand on sound legal footing. And a final gut check should always address the question: Did we do everything in our power to source the best possible pool of candidates?