The True Costs of a Long Recruitment Process

Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 by Graham Quinn

Over the years the number of days needed to land a job has substantially increased. According to Glassdoor the average length of the job interview process in the UK is now a staggering 27.5 days and more specialist and senior positions of have a much longer process.

Although talent shortages drive long selection processes in an effort to improve retention, deliberation doesn’t work in the current environment. 63% of candidates who feel a hiring process is too long are ‘not willing to wait in the face of additional offers.’ Plus, missing out on good candidates is not the only cost of an overly long recruitment process. 

Why have long selection processes become common?


Recruiting today is expensive; a Glassdoor found each hire costs the average UK company around £3,000, although more specialist and senior positions are often much higher. Research by CNBC also shows, that 41% of candidates today ‘would give a new job two to six months before quitting’ if they weren’t happy. Therefore companies want to find a good match and not waste their money and time.

In addition to trying to improve retention, the increase in demand for highly skilled employees encourages employers to be more rigorous in their selection. As a result, employers are adding extra screening stages, such as personality and aptitude tests, presentations, and additional interviews.


How are Candidates Reacting?


Research shows that candidates find long recruitment processes frustrating, particularly the wait to find out whether they have passed to the next stage. In a survey by Robert Half, 57% of candidates said the most frustrating part of a job search is the long wait after an interview to hear if they got the job. 46 % said they would lose interest if there was no status update from one-to-two weeks post initial interview.


Poor communication about how long the recruitment process will take is certainly a factor in causing candidates to drop out. Delays also increase the chances of good candidates getting a different offer as  61.7% of job seekers who get one interview have usually applied for up to ten jobs. (Zipla)


Slow recruitment processes may also result in candidates perceiving the company as inefficient as an employer. This can cause dropouts from the process as candidates also want to find the right match and make the right move for their career.


The Link between Lengthy Recruitment Processes and Losing Quality Candidates


Although employers make selection more rigorous to help them find quality candidates this often has the opposite effect. Candidates who have sought after skills and experience are confident they will be made an offer somewhere else. Therefore, they are happy to move on when employers take too long to make a decision. Quality candidates are also more likely to be head-hunted or receive offers through referrals.



As Glassdoor recently revealed that ‘86% of employees and job seekers research company reviews to decide on where to apply for a job’ bad reviews of the selection process will put off good candidates from applying.


Hidden Costs


Having a role left empty puts extra pressure on other team members resulting in reduced productivity and innovation. If the vacancy is sales related, employers also have to factor in the resulting loss of revenue, which increases the longer the recruitment process.


Also, the longer candidates are on the market, the more information they can gather about what they might be worth through research and receiving other offers. This means candidates are likely to ask for more by the time they are hired. Savvy recruiters apply the opposite strategy. Making passive hires by approaching employed candidates before they’ve started searching makes it more likely to acquire them for a better price.


What can Employers do to Streamline their Processes?


Using company goals to drive the selection process can reduce deliberation and help employers make an effective hire. These goals will show the skills a candidate needs for the company to make progress. This helps recruiters focus on which skills are really important.


Creating a timeline also prevents the process becoming overly long for candidates. The final date for making a selection can be identified by working out when the vacancy needs to be filled in order to avoid derailing productivity goals.


Ensuring  key decision-makers will be available on key dates also reduces the risk of candidates dropping out. 44% of job seekers say postponed interviews are their number one reason for losing interest according to Glassdoor. Communicating a timeline to candidates means they know what to expect, when and it helps them to prepare.


As soon as you know which candidates you are / are not considering at each stage, let them know. Being respectful and showing you value candidates’ time creates a good impression.


Consider Enlisting the Help of a Good Recruiter


If worries about hiring result in a slow recruitment process, enlisting the help of a recruiter with a good reputation might be the right choice for you. Well established recruiters have perfected their selection process and can therefore make a good match within a given timeline. Choosing a recruiter who is a specialist in your industry means they’ll also understand your needs and have a pipeline of relevant talent. 


Ask for evidence of long-lasting relationships with employers; good recruiters build their reputation and business through providing effective employees who stay, reducing their clients’ retention costs. A good recruiter should be happy to provide you with testimonials.


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