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Clients who drag out the process of hiring and making an offer to recruits are doing a tremendous disservice to themselves, the potential hire and you!  I recently had a company take 11 business days to make an offer after a final interview.  During the 11 days, the candidate had one on-site interview and two phone interviews with three other companies. This candidate I recruited for my customer didn’t have options when I first contacted them; then suddenly they had several. In the end, he had two offers on the table to consider and was beginning to wonder if he was my customer’s second choice.  Recruiting and hiring is a delicate emotional dance, if your date has to wait too long to be asked to the prom, they will simply go with someone else. In this case, if the company had been quicker with an offer he would have not interviewed with the other companies.

I tell all my clients that an offer needs to be made within 48 hours of the final interview– sooner if possible. So where does the process break down?  What are the pitfalls companies fall into which reduce their effectiveness in hiring decision making? During a “lessons learned” debrief with the company, we determined the following common reasons for the slow offer process:

  1.  Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen: When too many people are involved in the hiring decision, the process is going to be sluggish.  One person has to be in charge and retain full authority.  Seeking other’s input is important, but if multiple people are involved in a purely democratic process (in this case there were 10), it’s going to be next to impossible to get them to all reach the same conclusion in a timely manner.
  2. Hijacked By Lawyers: Lawyers certainly serve a purpose but a company attorney should not have to review each and every employment offer. Create a standardized offer template that has pre-approved legal language.  Salary, benefits, etc. can then be simply plugged in and you’re on your way.
  3. Key Decision Maker Missed the Final Interview: First of all this should just not happen.  It reflects poorly on the company and makes candidates feel like they’re not being taken seriously.  However, if unavoidable, have the missing person do a phone conversation prior to the final on-site interview. Or have them pick a trusted person to become the decision maker for this hire.
  4. The offer approval process was serial; not parallel – If you cannot avoid multiple approvals of an offer, get them all at the same time [parallel], not in succession [serial].  Create efficient processes to ensure your offers get out the door in the minimum time.
  5. Use Verbal Offers to Expedite the Process: If the decision has been made to extend an offer, make it over the phone as soon as possible.  Don’t let preparation of contracts and 2-3 day mail delivery slow down the process.  Follow up with written offers later the same day via email or overnight delivery.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?  If so, it’s time to review and reform your hiring process.  Don’t let news of the sluggish economy fool you into a false sense of security.  Top talent will still have plenty of interested companies—especially in the technical areas. Get them off the market as quickly as you can and putting their skills to work for your company.

Eric Murphy, Senior Recruiter CEO Inc.

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