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The need for speed (hiring). How to hire faster.

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Top talent doesn't stick around. Research shows the best matched candidates can be on the market for as little as 10 days. Most legacy recruiting processes take up to 49 days and, by that time, your preferred candidate will be long gone. Today's reality is if your recruiting process is faster than your competitors, your chances of signing top talent are significantly higher.

Here’s the background, legacy recruiting processes have been designed to mitigate the risks of making a bad hire. Without a lot of data or science, this traditionally meant stuffing the process full of selection steps, practice exercises, presentations, multiple rounds of interviews, coffee chats, background checks and reference checks. These processes may have worked when the employer held all the cards.

Today, with a new economic reality and access to data, we know that there is very little correlation between the effectiveness of some of these selection steps, and improved candidate quality.

Still not convinced? Research by Robert Half Talent Solutions’ August 2021 Hiring Trends report shows that 62% of candidates lose interest in a job if they haven’t heard back within 10 days, with 49% dropping out entirely. So, if your process is taking longer than ten days, you’ve effectively lost almost half of your candidate pool.

So, what can you do to optimise your company's hiring process? Let's take a look at some key points:

1. Analyse the current hiring process

Start by asking some key questions about your current hiring process. How many candidates exit the process as a result of this selection step? How long does it take for a candidate to pass through this selection step? How long does it take in total? Where in the process does candidate satisfaction (NPS) fall away? What does this step really measure? Where else in the process is this measured (i.e. avoid duplicating the same measures)? Pro tips:

  • The answer (the needle) is in the data (the haystack). Block out some time, get your ATS reports, Candidate/ Recruiter/ Hiring Manager Survey reports and start analysing.

  • Calculate which sourcing channels (job boards, careers sites, agencies, talent pools, referrals etc) generate the highest quality candidates fastest. Use this data to re-prioritise your attraction strategy.

  • Analysing how much time is spent in each high level process step will indicate where the greatest opportunities to optimise are. In the example below Interview and Check and Verify stages are the obvious places to prioritise improvement.


2. Interview Candidates, Recruiters and Hiring Managers

To understand where improvements can be made, it's essential to interview the key players involved in the hiring process. Identify the experience moments that really matter to Candidates, Recruiters and Hiring Managers. Understand the motivations and expectations of your stakeholders and use that as your north star as you move into the next step.

Pro tips:

  • Waiting for Candidates to reply to emails is a common Recruiter frustration but do Candidates expect something different? Ask your Candidates how they want to be engaged and communicate through those channels. Email is appropriate in some circumstances but SMS/ WhatsApp messages have virtually 100% open rates and average response times of just a few minutes.

  • Continuously improve by design. It's a great idea to implement Candidate, Recruiter and Hiring Manager feedback surveys through the end to end process and get feedback from unsuccessful Candidates too. Keeping your finger on the pulse will keep you ahead of the curve.


3. Optimise and automate

Once you have a clear understanding of the current process, start designing a future state. In today’s fast paced world, most candidates expect the same gratification when applying for a job as they’ve become accustomed to in their consumer lives. To match up to this expectation you’ll need to leverage smart technology to enable your future state.

Pro tips:

  • Design your future state with stretch goals in mind, for example; reducing time to hire from 49 work days to 30 days.

  • Eliminate selection steps which aren't adding value. Your data analysis in step 1 will have shone a light on the selection steps which don't disqualify candidates, add time or kill experience. Be bold. Cut them.

  • Embrace automation and eliminate low value add, repetitive manual tasks such as interview scheduling, some candidate communication and contract generation.

  • AI is not a dirty word. Cut sourcing and screening time by leveraging your ATS AI assistants who suggest candidates you already know and like for a new role or can support the screening process by rating and ranking candidates.

  • A lot of business processes are designed to work at current levels of demand. Lets say managing 50 Reqs and 1000 Candidates. How would those processes hold up if you needed to manage 100 Reqs?


4. Set (bold) Objectives and establish Metrics

This article is based on the importance of reducing Time-to-Hire (TTH) or Time-to-Fill (TTF) metrics. What's often overlooked is the impact that other common metrics such as Cost-per-Hire (CPH) and Hiring Ratios (i.e. applications-to-interview or interview-to-offer) when optimised can have on increasing speed of hire. Let's use the latter as an example. If our attraction strategies are off kilter and result in high numbers of unsuitable candidates your hiring process slows down as a result of the extra time required to screen and reject so many Candidates to find the few great Candidates. Optimising your Hiring Ratios means improving quality but also results in far greater efficiency.

Pro tips:

  • Design your future state with stretch goals in mind, for example; reducing TTH from 49 work days to 30 days.

  • Set up your Tech Stack so you can easily generate consistent reports and dashboards.


5. Embrace proactive recruiting

So far our recommendations have been oriented around engineering the fastest possible reactive recruiting process. In itself an essential strategy pillar but not the full picture. Proactive recruiting is a strategy which anticipates hiring demand (ahead of time) and allocates resources (yep dedicated recruiters) to attract, engage and quality Candidates before a hiring need arises. The results can be stunning, Vodafone reduced time to hire to a very speedy 7 days while also reducing cost per hire.

Pro tips:

  • Invest in sourcing tools and a CRM platform to help your team to attract talent and build relationships (at scale) with passive Candidates.

  • You can't Talent Pool or Pipeline for every role, you’ll need to prioritise. Consider:

    • What Jobs do we recruit most often?

    • What Jobs do we struggle to fill? (longest time to hire, soak up a lot of recruiter time, high costs of attraction)

    • What Jobs if left unfilled would have a high negative impact on business continuity?

    • Which naysaying Hiring Managers do we really want to impress and convert to advocates?

  • Consider re-organising your Recruitment team to separate the roles of end-to-end Recruiters from Sourcers. Sourcers will be experts at finding hard-to-find candidates, building rapport so they can pitch the opportunity. Define different performance metrics to reflect the differences in these roles.

  • Prioritise Recruitment Marketing (aka Content Marketing focused on communicating your Employer Value Proposition) to build brand awareness.


But where do I start?

Don’t try to rebuild your whole process all at once. Once you’ve identified some opportunities and some steps you can take, trial a new process for a single business department. If possible, see if you can set it up so that two similar roles are recruited using the new and old process. Then, take a look at your results, see what works, what doesn’t, optimise and repeat.

6. Overcoming resistance to change

In the process of re-engineering your hiring process you may encounter change resistance. Good Change Management is an art we'll dedicate an entire whitepaper to. For now, our recommendation is to counter resistance by calculating the cost of slow hiring. Use the data, to highlight the imperative change. There are several simple formulas we like to use to demonstrate the cost of slow hiring expressed as lost revenue.

Option 1

(Annual revenue or profits ÷ Number of employees)


Number of working days X average time to hire


  • $20,000,000 annual revenue

  • 1200 FTE

  • 260 Working days

49 day average TTH = $3,141 per day if we were successful in reducing TTH to 30 days, not only would we be hiring more of our first choice candidates we’d be saving $1,923 in lost revenue.

Option 2

Position’s annual salary X Average days to hire


Number of working days


  • $90,800 annual salary (2023, average Australian salary)

  • 260 Working days

At 49 day TTH, lost revenue amounts to $17,112.30 or $349.23 per day without a hire. With a reduction to 30 days TTH, lost revenue is $10,476.92.

Pro tip:

Use this data, hand in hand with your new designed process to get approval and support for further transformation.

The last word

It’s crucial for Talent Attraction leaders to redesign their processes to be more efficient and effective. The traditional recruitment process is time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating for both candidates and employers. By analysing the current process, interviewing those involved, optimising and automating, and calculating the cost of slow hiring, employers can create a recruitment process that is streamlined, efficient, and effective. A short hiring process will save time and money, reduce the likelihood of losing top candidates to competitors, increase candidate satisfaction, and increase the likelihood of making a successful hire.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, as the processes for hiring in different companies, industries, and individual roles can widely vary.

I need more help

We can help - we have extensive experience in optimising recruitment processes across multiple industries and all company sizes. We’ll work within your company’s unique circumstances, and use your own data and research, to come up with a solution that is tailor-made for you. If you’re worried about all of those purple squirrels slipping away after 10 days, then get in touch today!

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