by Derek Diviney, Dublin-based EMEA VP of sales and customer service at Indeed

As Indeed’s VP of sales and customer service for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, I often talk to clients about the importance of reducing time-to-hire. It’s a top priority for Indeed, but it’s also something I’m passionate about because of an experience I had earlier in my career. I applied for a job at a large tech company, and after learning that I had passed the initial screening round, I underwent 13 interviews during a five-month period. I initially had a lot of enthusiasm about the role, but the drawn-out process drained it away. The company did finally get back to me with an offer, but by that point, I felt so frustrated and conflicted that I would have walked away from almost any other company. I took the job and stayed for more than a decade, and I was determined that no other applicant would have to go through what I experienced. By the time I left, it was exceedingly rare for a candidate to do more than five interviews.

My experience is not unique. A recent survey found that 62% of professionals lose interest in a job if they hear nothing from the employer within two weeks. That number rises to 77% if there is no status update within three weeks.

In a crowded job market, companies with a slow time-to-hire, that is, the amount of time it takes to complete the hiring process, are at a distinct disadvantage. Businesses receive an average of 250 applications for each corporate-level role, and leaders must realise that the most highly qualified applicants are probably interviewing with several companies at a time. Even desirable companies risk losing out on top talent if the process is too prolonged. 

By streamlining the hiring process and implementing systems that enable teams to reach quicker decisions, companies can attract skilled jobseekers who are in high demand, while ensuring they do not lose these candidates to competitors. I want to tell you why I’m so convinced that reducing time-to-hire should be a top priority for your organisation, and also share some tips on how to do so.

Improving the Hiring Process increases efficiency and reduces waste

Put bluntly, a prolonged hiring process costs your company money. The longer it takes to fill a position and the more steps that are involved in reaching a decision, the more time and resources that are wasted, lowering productivity and increasing cost,currently around £3,000 in the UK. This doesn’t mean you need to cut corners or compromise on due diligence (after all, the cost of a 'bad recruit' can be considerable). But by shortening the time from opening a position to filling it, companies can operate far more efficiently.

These costs affect organisations of all sizes and across all industries. The manager of a care home recently told me that, by reducing time-to-hire from 45 days to 25 days, he was able to accommodate more residents, resulting in higher occupancy rates and increased revenue. Likewise, the longer hoteliers take to recruit staff that maintains buildings and cleans rooms, the fewer people there are to turn around rooms between guests, decreasing capacity. 

Having employees in place sooner ensures organisations work more effectively and maximise profits. By filling vacant positions faster, companies can maintain optimal staffing levels, ensure workloads are distributed efficiently and reduce the burden on existing employees. This, in turn, can enhance overall team performance and organisational success.

Recruting more efficiently enhances your employer brand

A shorter hiring process will always improve the candidate experience and enhance your employer brand. Jobseekers appreciate a streamlined hiring process, as it demonstrates the company’s respect for their time and commitment to making timely decisions. Indeed works closely with the recruitment teams at many organisations to help them reduce time-to-hire. One government organisation we work with has created a process that can take some candidates from screening to receiving an offer in only 48 hours.

We have found that successful applicants immediately become evangelists, sharing their positive experience with friends and family. Even unsuccessful applicants are appreciative of a fast and informed decision. It’s long been established that candidates who receive timely feedback after an interview are 52% more likely to engage with an employer again, and research suggests that nearly three-quarters of jobseekers who’ve had a negative recruiting experience will share about it on sites like Glassdoor. A positive experience for a candidate, regardless of whether they received a job offer at the end of the process, can result in better candidate satisfaction, increased word-of-mouth referrals and an enhanced reputation as an employer of choice.

On top of all the other benefits, we’ve found that a shorter time-to-hire can help your company reduce unconscious bias: As the process drags on, decision makers tend to lose sight of predetermined criteria and essential skills and focus more on other more subjective factors. A quicker time-to-hire can help build a stronger and more diverse culture.

What you can do to improve your time-to-hire

There is not a precise ideal turnaround time for recruiting, but I recommend all companies aim to match or improve the pace set by their competitors. By prioritising speed, companies gain a competitive advantage in securing top talent and reduce the risk of losing potential candidates to rival organisations. 

The first step to streamlining time-to-hire is to closely scrutinise your current processes and ask three key questions: 

  1. Is every stage required?
  2. Are we searching for talent in the appropriate channels to ensure a strong candidate pipeline?
  3. Do we communicate quickly with candidates and with each other? 

HR automation tools can also play a crucial role in reducing time-to-hire, particularly during the screening phase. By implementing data-driven screening questions, companies can quickly identify suitable candidates and move them through the process, while redirecting unsuitable applicants. Automating scheduling and interview coordination further streamlines the process, making it easier for both recruiters and candidates to navigate, and helping to minimise the effects of bias on the hiring process. Rapid screening tools such as Indeed Assessments help narrow down your applicant pool quickly to identify your top candidates.

A 48-hour turnaround from job posting to filling the vacancy might seem like an impossible target, but I know from our own organisation’s experience that it can be done. Recently, Indeed’s executive team set itself the challenge to use our own technology to hire people for professional service roles, legal counsel, marketer, accounts receivable controllers, within a two-day period. The event involved posting a job advertisement and inviting interested candidates to a hiring event within two days. We screened candidates using Indeed’s hiring tools, then arranged and conducted two stages of video interviews. We offered jobs to many of these successful individuals within a week of them starting the process.

As our experience at Indeed shows, achieving a quick turnaround from job posting to filling the vacancy is possible through strategic use of technology and streamlined processes. The benefits are both tangible and considerable: saving time and money, mitigating bias and keeping candidates engaged throughout the recruitment journey. Furthermore, it portrays the organisation as efficient, respecting the time of both employees and applicants, which in turn helps a company attract top talent, enhance productivity and strengthen its employer brand in today’s competitive job market.