The executive recruitment process can certainly be a lengthy one. From getting sign off on a proposal, to finalising a shortlist, interviewing candidates, and getting offers approved and negotiated…
Throughout you are often faced with a variety of obstacles and soon a process you initially thought would take a few weeks, very quickly turns into months and months of recruiting. Found the ideal candidate? Damn, they’ve taken another job with a competitor. Trying to set up interview dates into the very busy schedules of four people’s diaries, seems impossible! And once you throw Covid into the mix you are met with a whole host of additional delays and challenges!
The recruitment process can be stressful for both parties.
Therefore, communication is key, and it is important to keep this consistent throughout to ensure a seamless process.
Attracting a good shortlist of candidates can be a lengthy process with the typical timescale being anywhere between 4-8 weeks depending on the search firm. Our average is usually around 5 weeks.
The search firm is firmly in control of the timescales to shortlist but that is only the first half of the process. Once the shortlist has been recommended the situations are reversed and it is primarily the client organisation who will dictate the speed of the process, with the search firm helping to project manage.
Here is an example of two clients that had very different recruitment processes and outcomes…
Client A had a smooth and quick recruitment process. The timescale for getting their shortlist was 4 weeks, with it taking an additional 4 weeks from shortlist meeting to get to through their interview process to offer acceptance, so all in all a seamless and relatively quick process!
With Client B the timescale for achieving their shortlist was around 5 weeks, however, the time it took from shortlist to offer was 14 weeks.
Both clients were hiring roles at a similar level. Of course, every process is going to be met with its own unique challenges throughout and a lot of different factors will come into play that affect the timescales of the recruitment process.
However, there are a few key differences with Client A that minimised some of the obstacles and delays that Client B and their candidates faced.
Here’s some tips you can follow to ensure you have a smooth recruitment process…
1. Agreeing clear interview dates in advance
Arranging and agreeing on interview dates can certainly be challenging, especially when all parties have busy diaries. However, it is essential to schedule in time for interviews as early on as possible in the process to avoid complications later down the line.
In this example Client A agreed their 1st and 2nd interview dates in advance to be shared with the candidates, with the client keen to interview quickly with small gaps between stages.
Blocking out this time to dedicate to interviews can be a quick and simple solution to avoiding unnecessary stress later on in the recruitment process.
2. Having a clear brief of the role throughout the process
It’s important to outline the key person spec requirements, role responsibilities and expectations of the role from the get-go.
Client B had to alter their brief halfway through the hiring process, which meant that some candidates in process were no longer right for the role.
Of course, things do and can change unexpectedly, however, it is important to remember the effect this will have on the candidates who may have become very invested in the role and the impact on the recruitment timescales of having to source alternative candidates.
Keeping clear and consistent communication with all colleagues involved in the hiring decision is crucial to ensure that you don’t lose time due to a change in brief.
This can be resolved by involving all stakeholders in the hiring decision to unanimously outline and agree the role requirements in advance, this will ensure you get the best talent, and produce a timely outcome.
3. Making recruitment a priority
Hiring can often become less of a priority for clients who are faced with a myriad of different pressures and responsibilities. They may actually be busy covering for the vacancy within their leadership team.
Client A made recruitment their top priority and this helped to speed up their hiring process. Whereas Client B focused on trying to sort out the operational issues themselves, as opposed to focusing on hiring a person to fill that role and take on those responsibilities.
Short-term solutions will not fix a long-term problem! Clients that make hiring their no.1 priority tend to get the best talent.
Those that prioritise other matters often lose out on the best candidates due to a slow process.
Act fast. Hire fast.
4. Ensure you have a choice of candidates
It can be tempting to pick the ideal candidate at shortlist stage who looks perfect on paper and not interview others to reduce your interviewing time.
But how can you truly judge a candidate without interviewing them to get the full picture? Particularly if a colleague or trusted search consultant has interviewed them already and recommends them.
Being too picky at the early stages can lead to problems later down the line, and in some cases may lead you to having to start again from square one.
Client A initially interviewed their entire shortlist and were particularly surprised by one candidate who they weren’t expecting to be such a strong fit, whereas Client B cherrypicked the candidates who looked good on paper but ended up going back to interview the other initial candidates on the shortlist.
Going back to candidates who were initially not selected for interview at the shortlist stage first-time round is never going to look great from the candidate’s perspective.
It’s best to not immediately judge a book by its cover and to give everyone who made it to the shortlist the chance to do a first interview. Who knows, you could be pleasantly surprised!
5. Listen and respond to market feedback
Coming up with a suitable and competitive salary package can be a bit of a balancing act. Not only are you having to work with a budget, but you need to ensure that you’re offering an attractive salary at a competitive market rate.
The need for speed when negotiating an offer at offer stage is crucial. If a candidate is taking a long time to consider an offer, this is a clear sign that what’s on offer may not be that attractive or competitive to the candidate.
Never assume you are the only company they are talking to, once word gets out that a good candidate is potentially on the move other companies may approach them.
Client A provided a written offer within 2 days, whereas Client B took two weeks to decide whether to offer the candidate more money and ended up losing them to a competitor who did their entire recruitment process in 2 weeks!
Of course, not everyone will have such a speedy hiring process, however once it reaches offer stage make sure you don’t deliberate too long as you could easily lose out on securing them.
We know recruiting at an executive level is never easy.
That’s why ensuring clear communication at each stage with all parties is crucial. Not only are you deciding on the right candidate for your company, but the candidate will also be weighing up whether you’re the right company for them.
Interviewing can be an extremely stressful and anxious process for candidates, particularly if they are not receiving updates on the process.
When hiring at an executive level most of the candidates may have been passive and not initially looking for a new role, however by the end of the process they will have likely become very invested in the opportunity.
How you treat candidates throughout will strongly resonate with them and give them significant insight into what it will be like to work for the company.
It’s important to consider the recruitment process from the candidate’s perspective and how making small changes can significantly impact the speed and success of your senior hiring.