I am often asked by employers many things about the candidates they are reviewing, interviewing, and considering hiring – from experience to cultural fit to salary requirements. One thing I am rarely (if ever) asked: “How will it impact my ability to land a top flight candidate if I… take my time or if I am indecisive when it is time to pull the trigger and hire.”
I urge every employer entering a search to be ready to pull the trigger on the right candidate no matter when he or she turns up, be it day one or day one hundred. If you find a great candidate on day one will you hire them or second guess yourself and interview others, only to lose the best person for the opening? Don’t dip your toe in the water and enter into the candidate hire process half-heartedly or the resulting hire will reflect that.
Time after time we’ve seen employers hem and haw and lose out on the best person for their team. You are not hiring in a vacuum – if a great candidate is on the market for you, it’s a good bet they are looking at more than just your company. They are not waiting around for a “what if” with you when another offer comes along… and it is a sure bet they won’t quit a newly acquired position just because you have finally made a decision weeks or months later.
Beyond just the pragmatic reality that when good people are on the market they’re scooped up quickly, consider basic psychology. You get into an interview with a candidate who has all the skills, is a great fit and really… there are no red flags. This is a person that could start for you tomorrow. If you know that, the candidate knows that. And they know the interview went well. As time goes on the enthusiasm the candidate has for your opportunity/company wanes and turns into disinterest and even sometimes hard feelings.
If you have a great candidate – get the hiring done. If what you have is a possible great candidate… be HONEST about the time it will take for the candidates to go through the process. Don’t say you will have a decision by the end of the week if that is overly optimistic. And create urgency within your own organization to get good candidates through the process quickly before you lose their interest or lose them to another company.
No one wants to work for a company that is indecisive and slow. And no one wants to feel like they are not valued by a potential employer. Your behavior in the interview process is your first chance to model the acceptable behavior of your company. Is being slow to act, indecisive, and missing deadlines an example you want to set?
There are not a lot of numbers regarding how long a candidate will stay “on the hook,” but our experience would suggest it is no longer than two weeks. If you are interested, move now – or you may just find that you’re the person who fills the role to be a poor substitute for who you should have just hired when you had the chance.