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Hire Fast or Hire Slow?

The old adage “hire slow, fire fast” has been used for decades now. However, in competitive job markets like the current one, following suit may be ill-advised—at least when it comes to recruiting top job candidates. In Austin and throughout Texas, hiring in nearly every major industry has hit maximum velocity. Even passive job candidates in technical, sales, engineering and accounting fields are being hired at rapid pace—with multiple offers in play. So, with a “hire slow” mentality engrained so deeply into your culture, how important is it to eliminate wisely crafted speed bumps?

“Extremely important,” says Nad Elias, managing partner, The HT Group. “During the tech boom in the late 1990’s, we saw job candidates being recruited through email, sight unseen. It’s possible we’re headed that way again.”

Elias explains it’s the mid-level positions—with salary ranges of about $80,000 to 90,000—that are being hired the fastest. How fast? In less than one week. What’s more shocking is that even passive candidates aren’t exempt from these breakneck speeds.

“Recruiters know it’s important to act fast once passive candidates have been contacted,” Elias explains. “If they weren’t actively looking before, they are now. Just as you wouldn’t dream of hiring after interviewing only one person, these candidates want to be sure to have multiple job offers on the table to make the most informed decisions. It would not be uncommon for a passive candidate to be hired by a competitor within a week of getting that first call from you.”

If you are bound to win the candidate anyway, other benefits to acting fast may be realized. HR specialist Dr. John Sullivan claims making fast decisions before the competition enters the race may result in a salary that is as much as 25 percent less than after a bidding war begins.

So how can you start hiring fast, while still making a smart hire?

“Shrink your process without compromising its integrity,” advises Elias. “Remember that excessive interviewing not only leaves room for the candidate to ‘shop around’ but it also shows disrespect for his or her time, leaving a potentially poor impression. For mid-level positions, a phone screen and a half day of in-house interviewing is all it should take. Great candidates are often lost when employers insist on that third or fourth interview.”

Exceptions to this rule abound, of course. Those interviewing for high-level executive positions may need to jump through extra hoops—interviewing with a Board of Directors or VCs/investors, for instance. But it’s important to set those expectations upfront. And consult with a staffing specialist or recruiting partner to shorten the early stages of the process so that more time might be awarded when it matters most to you.

“It’s important to stop thinking in terms of ‘acting fast’ or, instead, ‘taking your time,’” Elias concludes.  “Think of it more in terms of efficiency. In other words, how you can most efficiently compete for the best candidates?”


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