Can you be too careful when hiring?


It’s good to be careful, but can you be too careful when you hire? It’s a trend that’s increasing today across all industries, even as hiring becomes more competitive, and it holds true whether you're hiring executive candidates or people on the front line. And, warning, it may not be ideal for your employer brand.

Companies have always wanted to ensure they’re making the right decision when adding to the team, but when decision-driven delays turn into hiring paralysis, you have a problem.

Robin Ryan, author of the book 60 Seconds & You’re Hired! Recently told USA Today about a candidate who had 13 interviews for one job. The company ultimately didn’t hire anyone. It’s reason? It couldn’t make a decision. While I’d like to say situations like this one are an exception, sadly they’re not.

The impacts of delayed hiring can be long-term and far-reaching. Candidates know other candidates and ask about interview experiences. Social networks and online review sites reveal slow hiring practices. Why would anyone willingly take a job where progress is slow and painful?

A marketer once informed me she interviewed nine times over three months via Skype for a VP role with a small company BEFORE the company decided to schedule in-person meetings with the top three candidates. She declined. “If it takes three months to decide you want to meet someone face-to-face, I can’t even imagine how long it takes to make other business decisions,” she said. “Life at that company was guaranteed to be frustrating.”

Usually, the problem isn’t the candidates -- it’s the hiring company, which either lacks a process or a strategy for deciding on the right person. Maybe the delay is driven by a person at the top who decides at the last minute that three more c-suite members should meet the candidates. Or maybe the hiring company hasn’t decided on which questions will get them insight they can act upon and need to schedule repeat interviews to ask questions they forgot to ask initially. Both of these result in extended times to hire.

Now, if candidates had nothing better to do than wait for the hiring company to call, this wouldn’t be a concern. But I haven’t talked to a candidate in years who wasn’t looking at more than one job. It’s the old cliche -- you snooze, you lose.

The impacts of delayed hiring can be long-term and far-reaching. Candidates frequently know other people who have either worked for or been interviewed by the company. Companies that can’t make a timely hiring decision run the risk of top candidates taking a different role elsewhere. Social networks and online review sites where a company’s slow hiring practices are revealed may deter future candidates from even considering a role with the company. Why would anyone willingly take a job where progress is slow and painful?

How to be confident about the executive you're hiring

When my company starts an executive search for a client, our first step is to outline the process and determine the strategy. We determine who’s going to be involved in the interviews, what the key selection criteria will be, and which questions need to be asked. This happens BEFORE we ever talk to a candidate. We work with our clients on this process -- which helps them learn so they can use the same approach when they hire other candidates in the future -- while also educating them about the market, how competitive the search will be, and what a compensation package may look like. Then and only then do we start connecting with prospective candidates.

It’s not a simple process, but it results in a more focused search that can get the right candidates in front of the right people faster and help everyone get back to work quickly. And that includes the soon-to-be-hired executive, too.

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