Negative Effects of a Lengthy Recruitment Process [+ Ready-to-Use Solutions]


One may say that a longer recruitment process is more detailed and enables one to find the best candidate. However, a lengthy recruitment process causes many candidates to lose interest in the job and pursue other options.

What other downsides does the lengthy recruitment process have, and how to make it more efficient? Find the arguments and ready-made solutions below!

How Long Is The Average Hiring Process?

According to LinkedIn, only 30% of companies can fill vacancies within 30 days. However, the other 70% of companies take between 1-4 months to make a new hire. Research by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) also reports an average time-to-fill of 36 days. Workable reports that North America’s IT/Technology industry has time to hire of 30 days, while the average global time to fill in Engineering is 62 days.

From these researches, one of the most evident contributing factors is the long hiring process. Of course, companies with a longer hiring process have the longest time to hire, and IT companies tend to fall on this side of the spectrum. 

How long is too long? An infographic by Robert Half shows that 39% of the more than 1,000 U.S. workers polled said 7-14 days is too long; 23% will wait for just one week to hear back from a company, while 57% lose interest in a long hiring process.

Lengthy Recruitment Process: A Real-Life Scenario

In today’s job market, waiting too long to hire can leave you regretting the one who got away. Talented candidates are in short supply and high demand. They have the upper hand, and they dislike waiting. As an employer, you may feel as if you are caught between a rock and a hard place. To ensure the right hire, you want to thoroughly vet candidates before making a hire. However, in today’s competitive market, you must also hire quickly.

A typical hiring process for an IT company consists of multiple rounds of live coding interviews, system design tests, Hackerrank tests, a series of interviews, reference checks, and then preparing the offer. For each stage, a candidate spends, on average, one hour. So, a candidate spends roughly 5 to 7 hours spread across 30 days or more before getting an offer, if they are lucky to.

The image on the left below shows the recruitment funnel for Slow Inc., an IT company and a client of MatcHR, for over 5 months within the European market. In comparison, the image on the right is for an ideal client within the same period and market.

This funnel shows that a sourcer working at Slow Inc. needs to source almost four times as much, to make a hire. It also shows that the ideal client has a shorter recruitment process, which is a big advantage in this case. The ideal client makes 5 hires in 5 months (roughly one hire per month) while Slow Inc. struggles to meet up.

Let’s take another closer look at the image below:

It is safe to say that Slow Inc. has a longer hiring process than other tech companies. While the industry average is 49 days, our ideal client makes a hire within 33 days, and Slow Inc. makes just one hire in over 100 days. We also see that 34% of interested candidates withdrew from the process and roughly 5% ghosted; hence, a longer than industry-average recruitment process leads to a high level of candidate churn and bad candidate experience.

How harmful is a lengthy recruitment process?

Candidates will lose interest in the process

A lengthy recruitment process causes many candidates to lose interest in the job and pursue other options. While deciding whether or not to move a candidate to the next step of your lengthy recruitment process, the candidate has most likely already applied for another job and may have received a competing offer. 

In this case, the company must undergo another screening round to recruit a suitable replacement for the job. At the same time, you still have a vacancy to fill, which inhibits productivity. As a result, acting promptly during recruitment will give you a competitive advantage in getting a qualified candidate for the job.

Candidates are likely to jump at the chance of the next great opportunity unless you are Google or another big tech company worth waiting for. While you are still in the middle of the hiring process, your competitors will take advantage of the opportunity to acquire a candidate who might be a perfect fit for your business, forcing you to deal with mediocre applicants.

So what can be done? Provide feedback early and communicate the next steps as quickly as possible. Having a policy that enforces giving feedback to candidates within a reasonable window of one week and letting them know the next step for them will prove to them that they are top-of-mind to you and that you genuinely appreciate that time and effort.

Hurts employer branding (both internal and external)

The IT community is strong, and developers share their experiences. If a developer has a bad experience with your recruitment process, they will notify their colleagues, share their complaints on social media, or refrain from applying to your organization.

This may cause you to lose many top applicants, but it will also impact your brand’s image. For example, disgruntled candidates may post negative reviews about their experience on Glassdoor, which can harm your brand’s image. Many of the top candidates will be discouraged from applying to your company due to this.

Your internal brand image is equally important as your external reputation may seem. A recruiter or sourcer is happiest when they make a hire. If your recruitment process is too long and it becomes nearly impossible to make a hire, it affects the morale of your TA team. Recruiters begin to get frustrated and have to work two or three times more before making hires.

In turn, an unhappy recruiter gradually infects your whole talent acquisition team. Hence, nobody is happy, not recruiters, not team developers, not managers, and not customers.

Increases hiring costs

Ever heard the saying “time is money”?

Your lengthy hiring process may be caused by the multiple rounds of interviews you do. If so, your company wastes money and the time of recruiters and hiring managers. All these costs should be accounted for in the typical cost-per-hire calculation, thus making them hidden hiring costs.

Although some people erroneously believe that having job openings can save you money, that is untrue. A vacant position for a software developer costs twice their yearly income. Productivity, innovation, and income generation are all significantly impacted by each day that a post is vacant.

According to research, cutting away the needless steps of a long recruitment process reduces costs and improves hiring quality because you have a higher chance of selecting a high-caliber candidate than your second, third, or even fourth pick.

It costs the company more productivity

Your recruitment team would rather be putting in more time to build a better recruitment strategy than go through resumes and interview every applicant. They must attend each interview to develop some fantastic products for your customers.

Hiring takes time – for all parties involved. On the candidate’s side, if a candidate is currently employed, they must arrange a method to leave their jobs to attend the lengthy interview process. Interviewers and hiring managers must take time away from the jobs they were hired for, which reduces their productivity.

Also, when you consider the opportunity cost for each day, the particular role is left unfilled; how much potential revenue to the business is this empty role losing every day it is unfilled?  

It is critical to balance quality hiring and efficient, timely processes. A more efficient recruitment process could save a month (or more) of lost sales.

Market becomes smaller

Taking a cue from Slow Inc. with the funnel presented above, sourcers need to source huge numbers of candidates to have at least two candidates at the offer stage.

If no effort is made to shorten the recruitment process and sourcers need to source over 400 candidates monthly, the pool of qualified candidates grows smaller because the best candidates were already sourced, outreached, interviewed, and somehow lost in the process.

An Easy Way Out: Shorten Your Hiring Process

Fortunately, you do not need to set up a long hiring process to guarantee success. Miguel Marques, in his article, argued a concept called the Minimum Hiring Process. 

The Minimum Hiring Process, consisting of our steps as shown below, is the simplest hiring process that gathers enough information from candidates to make hiring decisions confidently. 

1. Screening call

A recruiter usually conducts it. In this stage, you want to sell the company and role to the candidate in the most fascinating way possible. You also want to understand their professional experience better, what they are looking for in a new role, the compensation they’re expecting, and their notice period. The last 10 to 15 minutes of the call may be a technical conversation around topics they should be comfortable with.

2. Hiring manager call

This call is typically more concerned with determining cultural fit than technical skills, which will be evaluated more thoroughly later. After selling the role, team, tech stack (if applicable), and projects they’d be working on to the candidate, a deeper dive into the candidate’s cultural fit is essential. Here, hiring managers are looking for culturally fit candidates and not necessarily, technically fit.

3. Technical challenge

This stage may be a live coding challenge, HackerRank/LeetCode test, take-home assignment, case-study challenge, or pair programming challenge. Two important rules to keep in mind when designing this stage are to have a narrow scope and ensure the challenge resembles real work as much as possible. 

4. Final interview

This last stage should be run by senior leaders/C-level executives of the company and/or members of the team the candidate would be joining. The goal of this stage is to get a better understanding of what it would look like to work with this candidate daily. The offered rate for candidates who reach this stage is high. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while many companies will argue that a longer recruitment process is more detailed and helps to select a more refined candidate with guaranteed excellent performance, the negative effects outlined here far outweigh the pros of a lengthy process.

The bottom line is this: don’t put off hiring qualified, talented candidates who are eager to work for your company! Examine your recruitment and interviewing process at all levels to ensure that it is as efficient as possible so that you are prepared to respond when the right match comes knocking.

Article by:
Talent Acquisition Specialist
Talent Acquisition Specialist
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