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10 Ways to Reduce Time to Hire and Attract Qualified Candidates

As 86% of recruiters will agree, today's job market is candidate-driven. With companies hiring remotely around the world, candidates have more opportunities and options than ever, giving them the upper hand during the hiring process. As a result, businesses are left competing for top talent and hiring processes are getting longer.

And while it might be easy to blame the shortage of quality candidates for the prolonged time to hire, most of the time it's down to the hiring process itself. Seeing that as much as 49% of candidates declined a job offer due to a poor candidate experience, slow and disorganized hiring processes just aren't cutting it anymore. So, to reduce your time to hire, focus on providing candidates with a positive experience. Here's how.

Why is it important to reduce time to hire?

As any hiring manager knows, top candidates are in high demand. The longer your hiring process, the higher the chances of losing top talent to one of your competitors. As a result, you're stuck with hiring delays that negatively impact your existing team. Usually, when there are open positions, existing employees take on additional workloads to compensate for the vacancy. But if you make it a long-term situation rather than a short-term solution, you're risking burnout and decreased job satisfaction among your current team.

And if that isn't incentive enough, drawn-out hiring processes come with extra costs. Job ads and recruitment agencies cost money, not to mention the time your HR team and hiring managers invest into the process.

For this reason, you might want to partially outsource recruitment. That way, your team comes in once the vetting or primary interview stages have already been taken care of, helping you distribute your budget and resources more efficiently.

What is the difference between time to fill and time to hire?

Both time to fill and time to hire are metrics that provide you with valuable insights into the efficiency of your recruitment process. The main difference between them is the starting point.

Time to fill starts from the moment a job opening is identified. It includes the entire recruitment process and takes into account all the steps involved, all the way down to the final hiring decision.

Time to hire, on the other hand, focuses on the duration from the candidate's application to the moment they're officially hired. For this reason, time to hire should typically be shorter than time to fill.

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10 ways to reduce time to hire

If you're struggling with attracting qualified candidates and filling job openings, it might be time to take a look at your hiring process. But before we dive into the 10 ways you can reduce time to hire, it's important to establish what your time to hire look like now. While this will depend on your industry and the types of candidates you recruit, it's good to note that the average time to hire is around 36 days. If yours is above that, it's time for some changes.

1. Create and implement a structured hiring process

Attracting the best candidates, effective candidate evaluation, and an improved candidate experience all start with a structured hiring process. With predefined criteria and timelines, you're ensuring fair assessment of all candidates, as well as saving time and resources. 

What's more, clear communication and well-defined expectations contribute to a positive candidate experience. Transparency is key to making candidates feel engaged and respected throughout the hiring process which, in turn, reflects positively on your employer brand. Regardless of the final outcome, 57% of candidates who had a positive experience will spread the word online, which will make it easier for you to attract qualified candidates in the future.

While hiring processes differ from one organization to another and depend on the specific job requirements, there are some common steps involved in every recruitment process. Identify which steps you're currently lagging behind in, and you've done a huge leap towards a reduced time to hire.

Typical hiring process steps

Job opening appears

Every hiring process starts with the identification of the need to fill a position within the company. At this point, you're also determining the job title, qualifications, responsibilities, and other relevant details.

Advertising the job opening

After knowing who you're looking for, it's time to let the world know. Whether you're posting the job ad on your careers page, social media or online job boards, make sure to include a clear job description and instructions on how to apply.

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Application screening process

After the deadline for receiving applications has passed, you can start reviewing resumes. When you have a shortlist of suitable candidates based on the job requirements, you can move on to the next step to narrow down the candidate pool.

Candidate pre-screening process

The pre-screening stage usually includes an initial phone or video interview that helps you assess the candidate's interest in the role and their cultural fit. While getting an idea of their qualifications is also a possibility at this stage, it's best to focus on that in the actual interview so you don't unnecessarily prolong your time to hire.

Candidate interviews

Once you have a few top contenders, it's time for more in-depth interviews. Here's where you can assess the candidates' skills in more detail and get a better understanding of their personality. Note that you might need more than one round of interviews to find the best candidate. However, keep in mind that going overboard might backfire. 

The more rounds of interviews, the longer the time to hire. Not to mention the fact that you might unintentionally frustrate your candidates and make them look for a job elsewhere.

Skill assessments

Depending on the role you're hiring for, you might want to test the candidates' skills before you decide to offer them the job. And while it's true that assessment tests can help hiring managers find the most qualified candidates for the role, keep in mind that they can also reflect negatively on your hiring process.

For example, if you're hiring a graphic designer, asking them to create a custom design for the sake of a skill test might be seen as you asking them to work for free. This automatically makes the candidate doubt whether your company is the right fit. And the worst part about it? You could have avoided it by simply asking for a portfolio of previous work.

As a rule of thumb, never use a skill assessment test just for the sake of using it. Always ask for a portfolio when you can to see the candidate's skills in action. And if you need to use skill tests, make sure they're not too time-consuming.

Decision-making process

Based on everything you've learned so far throughout your hiring process, it's time to consult with other decision-makers. Once you've made the final decision and found the perfect fit, the only thing left to do is send the job offer.

Job offer and negotiations

Once you've selected a candidate, you'll send them a job offer outlining the terms of employment, compensation, and other relevant details. At this stage, there might also be room for negotiating terms set out in the job offer.

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2. Identify and measure key performance metrics (KPIs)

Without setting KPIs to track, you'll have a hard time identifying what needs improving in order to reduce time to hire. To figure out which part of your hiring process is falling behind, take a look at the following metrics:

  • Sourcing channel efficiency helps you understand where your qualified candidates come from. Using your ATS or HRMS platform, you can then assess the ROI for different sourcing channels and find the most effective platform to advertise your job openings.
  • Number of qualified candidates is calculated by dividing the number of qualified candidates with the number of all candidates that made it past the initial screening stage. It lets you know how good you are at identifying qualified applicants and moving them along the recruiting funnel.
  • Submit to interview ratio lets you know whether there are sourcing and screening issues in your hiring process. Generally, the number of candidates recommended for interviews with hiring managers should be the same as the number of candidates interviewed (1:1 ratio).

3. Write better job descriptions

When you're struggling to attract ideal candidates, your time to hire is bound to go up. So, to reduce time to hire, take a look at your job descriptions. Are you clearly stating all the requirements? Did you go a bit overboard with the list of responsibilities? Is nobody applying because you're clearly looking for one person to take on two different roles?

The most effective job descriptions clearly state the job scope and requirements, as well as any perks and benefits that come with working at your company. Be honest about daily tasks and duties and, if you're not sure, just ask for feedback from your existing employees.

4. Invest in your careers page

Most candidates visit your company's website before deciding to apply for a job. That's why you need to make sure your team and careers pages are up to date. If your careers page doesn't give potential candidates all important information and complicates the application process, they're likely to drop out and increase your time to hire.

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5. Optimize your interview process

Overdrawn interview processes with multiple rounds significantly increase your time to hire. Optimize your interview process by eliminating unnecessary complications and only interview your top candidates. You can also make the interview process more efficient by conducting interviews online instead of in person. That way, you're eliminating scheduling coordination and travel time.

6. Be clear about the compensation

98% of workers believe companies should put salary ranges in job ads. What's more, as much as 53% of job seekers would not apply for a job if the salary range was not stated in the job posting. So, to reduce time to hire and make sure the right candidate applies, consider displaying the pay range.

7. Take advantage of social channels

Seeing that 86% of job seekers use social media in their job search, your time to hire might be suffering because you're not taking advantage of advertising job openings on social channels. LinkedIn is a popular platform for job listings and talent acquisition that can also help you with passive candidate sourcing.

8. Automate everything you can

Applicant tracking system (ATS) software can help you automate your hiring process and improve recruitment efficiency. If you're still relying on a manual screening process that involves spreadsheets, it might be the reason for your increased time to hire.

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9. Keep candidates engaged

Today's job candidates expect personalization and quick communication. That's why it's important to customize emails or text messages, as well as provide regular updates throughout the recruitment process. Besides reducing your time to hire, showing the candidates you care about their journey makes them feel more engaged and more likely to accept a job offer.

10. Make the job offer easy to accept

Your candidate's journey isn't over once the job offer is sent. If you want to start off on the right foot, make sure your offer is easy to accept. Nobody likes to print out, sign, and scan documents, especially now when there are so many eSignature options out there. So, to make sure the candidate experience is positive from start to finish, consider investing in online signature software.

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Final thoughts

Reducing time to hire is about more than making sure your candidate accepts the job offer as soon as possible. In fact, a prolonged time to hire usually signals problems in the various steps of your recruiting process. Whether it's the application process, too many interview rounds or ineffective job descriptions, tracking KPIs is the first step towards making necessary fixes and reducing your time to hire.

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Patricija Šobak's profile image
Patricija Šobak puts her talent in spotting questionable grammar and shady syntax to good use by writing about various business-related topics. Besides advocating the use of the Oxford comma, she also likes coffee, dogs, and video games. People find her ability to name classic rock songs only from the intro both shocking and impressive.