Need for Speed

Need for Speed

speed in the recruitment process

All good things don’t necessarily come to those who wait.

A critical but often overlooked aspect when recruiting senior executives is speed.

You can have a sparkling job description, a winning employer brand and offer a good salary but if you take forever to make a decision then good candidates will go elsewhere.

Just recently I was speaking to someone who had been waiting six weeks for a written job offer, having been promised one verbally. When another firm produced one on the day of his second interview, you can guess which company he joined.

There are two main reasons why recruitment processes grind to a halt – one is poor internal practices, and the other is lack of urgency.

The latter point often comes because employers have a view that people are queuing up round the block to join them. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is a candidate’s market, and they have plenty of options. They won’t hang around to be treated badly.

There is no doubt that hiring managers are very busy, and often under added pressure from covering the job they need to fill. Sometimes recruitment seems to be the least important item on their ever growing list of firefighting tasks.

But by prioritising hiring activity, and making it fast and effective, they will get the right candidate in a short timeframe and free up a lot of valuable time to focus on other business-critical issues.

Here is my five-stage guide to getting your internal processes right for fast, effective recruitment of senior staff in the transport and infrastructure sectors.

1. Be clear who is in charge

You wouldn’t run a major project without a clear project leader and you shouldn’t expect good results from a recruitment process without treating it the same way. Appoint someone – potentially the line director – to either run the process themselves or be the sole point of contact for an outside search company. Such external specialists can use their experience and expertise to manage the process from start to finish, keeping it on track for a speedy and successful conclusion.

2. Condense

If you have a six-stage interview and assessment process, followed by an eight-person contract approval system embedded in a temperamental IT system that no one knows how to use, then expect to lose candidates – which means you’ll have to do even more interviews and ask for even more approvals.

Think about who really needs to be involved in interviewing and condense it all down into a couple of visits by each candidate then a quick decision.

3. Organise and communicate

Once you’ve condensed the process down, set some timescales for each of the stages and set about making sure everyone will be available when needed. This requires putting time in people’s diaries internally as well as – critically – informing the candidates with sufficient notice.

Remember you are not the only ones with other time pressures. The candidate may well be attending interviews elsewhere as well as managing their existing high level job on top of outside commitments. Tell them when they will be expected to attend so they can plan.

4. Make a swift decision

It sends out the wrong message if you need weeks to decide which candidate to hire. Not only will candidates lose faith in their commitment to join you, they may well be approached from elsewhere.

The key to swift decision making, is being clear on what you are looking for right from the beginning, and having one person in charge of making a final call. The day after the final round of interviews, schedule a 15-minute meeting to review the candidates and hear any final advice from key personnel. Then the decision maker – who doesn’t have to be the person in charge of the process, but does have to be clearly nominated – does their job and makes a decision.

approved due to speed in the interview process

5. Get the paperwork right

I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you have budget sign-off for the role before you even consider starting the
search p
rocess. Don’t go through the whole process, choose your dream candidate and only then knock on the chief executive’s door for approval for the salary level.

Have everything lined up by this stage so you can make a verbal offer through your nominated contact or external search company, then quickly follow it up with an email.

Make sure any full contract that is subsequently sent out is also emailed as I’ve known these get lost in the post. Triple check people’s names, salaries and addresses – a mis-spelt name not only slows things down but it looks careless and unprofessional.


  • Be clear who’s in charge
  • Condense interview stages
  • Organise and communicate
  • Make a swift decision
  • Get the paperwork right

A smooth and organised recruitment process won’t source you the perfect candidate, but it will ensure that you hang on to the one you find during the selection process.

Don’t risk handing the very best in the market to your competitors on a plate by dragging out the process for months on end.

**This blog post is the sixth of seven based on Newsom Consulting’s eBook The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Senior Managers in Transport and Infrastructure**

To get your free copy of the e-book of “The Ultimate Guide to Hiring Senior Managers in Transport & Infrastructure” please click HERE

Author: Jim Newsom

Jim Newsom

Managing Director