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The Secret to Hiring Faster: Why Speed Matters

Candidate experience featured

“Hire slow, fire fast.” We've been told it so many times we pretty much take it for granted now, but is this old adage correct or should we be hiring faster?

It pays to be thorough when you’re evaluating a candidate, but you should be aware that the longer you deliberate, the higher the chance that you might lose the candidate to a competitor (most candidates apply to multiple jobs at the same time).

We all seem to be taking our time – the average time-to-fill in the US has been on the rise over the last few years. John Zappe reports that the national average is now roughly 25 days, the highest it has been since 2001.

Average time to fill

You might think that sounds like an appropriate amount of time to evaluate and hire the right candidate, but there’s a problem. In many cases, the best candidates are off the market within 10 days!

Why does hiring faster matter?

The very best candidates are in high demand and are likely to receive multiple offers. If you’re not prepared to be decisive you may lose out to your competitors!

Recruiting faster doesn’t mean you have to abandon your hiring standards, but it does mean you have to move fast. This might mean you have to re-evaluate your process.

Here’s why it’s worth the extra work:

1. Higher quality hires

Moving fast means that you won’t miss out on top talent. (You still have to show candidates how awesome your company is though!)

2. Better candidate experience

Being decisive with your hiring process helps you differentiate yourself from competitors and improve your candidate experience.

You’re not forcing applicants to continually return for interviews and wait patiently for feedback. Responding rapidly to talent and making fast hiring decisions is so out of the ordinary that it’s definitely something candidates will notice!

3. Higher acceptance rates

Reducing the time from interview to offer gives candidates less time to reconsider whether they want to join your company.

It also gives them less time to interview elsewhere or listen to counteroffers from their current managers – there’s less chance they will get poached by someone else.

4. Your recruiters like it

Whereas a long hiring process requires a good helping of recruiter time (to schedule interviews and calls), hiring quickly helps them close requisitions, hit targets and stay happy.

5. Your hiring managers like it

Short recruitment cycles give hiring managers the talent they need immediately. It also helps them understand if they are causing delays in the hiring process – correcting these can dramatically improve efficiency.

The Process: How to start hiring faster

There are clear benefits to speeding up your recruitment, but making the necessary changes can feel like an intimidating task at first.

The key is to break it down into manageable changes that you can slowly implement.

Step 1 – Planning

It’s pretty likely that you’ll have to your boss that changing the structure of your hiring process is a good plan. Put together a pitch that demonstrates the potential ROI of speed – argue that your organisation is missing out on great talent, and that a new approach could be a good way to change that.

The devil’s always in the details. In order to speed up your hiring you need to make sure that every element of the process has been carefully planned.

Make sure you agree on which interview questions to ask well in advance – don’t just stick to the same old boring ones, try and think outside of the box.

Faster Hiring - Think Outside the Box

Think about whether you need to meet each candidate face-to-face or whether you would be happy with a video interview.

Not only is this far easier to arrange and eliminates many sticking points in the hiring process, but there are some great tools out there that ensure you don’t lose the personal element of a face-to-face interview.

Step 2 – Inside out hiring

The best place to start your search is always from within. Could anyone in your team handle the requirements of the role?

An interesting study from Wharton Professor Matthew Bidwell concluded that internal hires tend to perform better and were likely to stay in their roles for much longer.

We often don’t appreciate how valuable it is for workers to know the ropes of an organization. This understanding helps internal hires hit the ground running and perform from day 1. It’s also far quicker to hire from within.

Step 3 – Test the approach

If no one from your team is a good fit it’s time to look outside your organization.

After you’ve drawn up a new plan to accelerate your process, I would recommend testing it out on a small subset of positions you’re hiring for – if it’s a success you can roll it out over the whole organization.

This policy should get support from any executives unsure of the validity of the idea, and will help you understand whether it can help you hire better talent.

Run a test with the faster approach on one of your harder-to-fill positions – how do your results compare? If it’s clear that you’re getting a better ROI then you should have sufficient evidence to convince your boss of the validity of a more streamlined hiring approach.

Step 4 – Build a consistent feedback loop

Even after you’ve seen the value that a faster recruitment process can bring you and your company, you need to keep testing and trying to improve it.

For every hiring campaign you run, break down exactly what went well and what you could improve on. Use this data to establish a basic feedback loop.

This might sound technical, but all it's just an analysis of the effect of your 'actions'. This approach should help you understand which elements of your process need work and which are effective.

Hiring Faster - Feedback Loop


It might go against everything you’ve been told before but creating a faster recruitment process might be the secret to hiring the best candidates.

Dr John Sullivan has even explored the possibility of ‘1-day hiring‘ – this could be too extreme, but being in a position to move fast and hire quickly will undoubtedly help you get better talent in the door.