I’ve Never Lost a Candidate Because Our Process Was Slow


The headline might surprise some people. Time kills all deals, right? We have heard about it since we were fresh baby-faced HR professionals. Article after article tells you how ridiculous your slow process is:

These articles make it sound like most Talent Acquisition functions are filled with bumbling idiots who enjoy stretching deals out for nine months. Read Liz Ryan in Fortune and you’ll think we are all a super special blend of incompetent and evil.

Bad HR people exist for sure, but I refuse to believe that, on its own, a deliberate hiring process equals incompetence. Bad decisions made quickly are still bad decisions. Be as fast as you need to be and no faster.

Here’s the disclaimer: If your hiring process is slow because it is scattered, disjointed, lacks ownership and is poorly communicated, then you are, in fact, the idiot HR person that those articles vilify. Get your stuff together.

However, if you have a logical and deliberate (read: sometimes lengthy) process that exposes the candidate to multiple parts of the business and vice versa, because you have data that shows it helps both parties make better decisions, and you communicate that to people, you’re fine. You’re only going to lose the candidate that’s on the street and has to get a job now because the rent is due. Other than that, you’re fine.

Any good or great candidate that is confidently weighing options and learning about business opportunities will wait. They will. Top candidates appreciate a process that:

  • Is described up front—Explain what your process wants to do and how you’ve designed it. Be clear on steps and timing. If there will be some TBD steps, then acknowledge that.
  • Is logical—Meeting some random VP in San Francisco for a Midwest Director of Sales role might be stupid. Explain, however, why it makes sense to have the same candidate meet people in Corporate Communications and end user client executives.
  • Incorporates candidate input—After you explain what the company is trying to do, ask the candidate what they need to make a good decision. Does she need to meet peers, subordinates, support departments, or does she want a 90 minute job shadow?
  • Is considerate—Take into account that the person likely has a job and that you’re sensitive to the demands on their time.
  • Communicates throughout—Don’t ghost. Ever. If you have no updates due to exec travel, other candidates in play, or just plain not getting to it, tell them when you’ll know.

Sackett, KD and my agency brethren might be freaking out now, but I think they’ll agree with me. In fact, companies often hire agencies to not only help source candidates, but to help advise how to screen, select and close the right candidate. My advice—figure out the quickest way to get to a good decision, but don’t be quick just to say you were. Make good decisions. Run a logical and deliberate process that’s right for your business.

FOT Background Check

RJ Morris
R. J. Morris is based in the STL as the Director of Talent Acquisition and Management for McCarthy Building Companies, a multi-billion dollar national firm. Like many others in the FOT clan, he’s a sports nut who can endlessly draw the parallels between athletes, sports and the talent management game. I know, I know, as if we needed more of that. He has 10 years of practitioner experience leading talent efforts in corporate HR and another 7 years in leadership roles on the agency side, so he gets both sides of the desk. Talk to R.J. via emailLinkedInTwitter...


  1. Sean says:

    Love FoT. I was starting to feel like an idiot. Having read Liz’s commentary, I’ve had to go home and rethink my life on multiple occasions.

  2. onthe10brink says:

    Having a husband out in the job hunting world for has been really eye opening for me (and not in a good way) when it comes to candidate experience. Personally, over a nine-month period, he has experienced four instances of making it to the final two in a selection process which has included 4-6 phone and in-person interviews over a 4-5 month period. At that point, all four companies have selected an internal candidate or downgraded the position itself. The communication from HR and/or recruitment is sporadic, and it often takes weeks between interviews due to the coordination of schedules when 4-5 people are required to be involved at each level. Perhaps it is the industry and level of the position he is seeking, but thus far the process is painful. I understand wanting to be thorough, but at what point does a lengthy interview process become overkill?

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