How Long Does it Take You To Hire a Candidate?

Lately, I’ve been working with people who say they’ve looked for months to try to find just the right person. I believe them. When I ask where they spend their time, they inevitably say that they spend way too long interviewing people who aren’t quite right. And, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s how I spend time. First the preparation time, maybe a couple of hours

  • Define the hiring strategy
  • Analyze the job
  • Write the job description
  • Write the job ad; send it off to get it posted on the company’s site
  • Let my personal network know

Now, the sourcing time, which varies depending on my activities:

  • Explain to HR what I’m looking for. Since I’ve done a job analysis already, I can explain it clearly, and not spend too much time with HR.
  • Job fairs, other sourcing activities
  • Filter resumes, timeboxed to an hour each day. (For those of you claim you don’t have an hour, rethink what you are doing. Hiring is the most important role you have, aside from managing the project portfolio.)
  • Develop the phone screen questions

Interviewing: up to 3 hours per candidate

  • Phone screen each candidate who makes it to the “yes” pile. Am I happy with my results? If so, continue. If not, rethink my job analysis.
  • Organize the interview matrix and interview the candidate
  • Conduct follow-up meeting to evaluate the candidate

Assuming I want to go forward with an offer, spend about 2 hours, one on checking references and one on extending an offer.

If you start with interviewing, you haven’t spent enough preparing yourself or your team. Your hiring cost will be sky-high and you won’t get the people you really want. Spend a little time on a job analysis, and the rest of your work will fall into place.

When there are tons of candidates, your prep work is even more important. Spend a little time at the beginning and you’ll find you won’t waste much time.

5 Replies to “How Long Does it Take You To Hire a Candidate?”

  1. Some thoughts I still believe in for hiring people for any job requiring creativity, invention —

    * Prep work — Hire to complement yourself and your team, not to duplicate yourselves
    * Prep work — For any job that is fundamentally creative/inventive, you’re hiring someone to learn the job that will be needed in 12 months, not to do the job/tasks that happen to be needed in the first month.
    * Prep work — Don’t let HR just do keyword and criterion filtering, guide them on how to set their nets to find the most -interesting- people for you and your team to spend time on. (Many HR people aren’t managed, trained, or hired to handle this level of ambiguity, though.)
    * Interviews — Learn about each candidate’s skills, net ability to learn/adapt, and what kinds of support the person will need to be effective on your team within 6 – 12 months.
    * Interviews — With people who have made the next-to-last cut, probe their attitudes about work objectives and appraisals; for anyone you’re seriously interested in, describe how you use objectives and appraisals.
    * Offer — Every employee needs support of some sort(s) to be effective. Before composing and sending the letter, ask each of your team members what support the candidate will need to become a successful member of the team.
    * Offer — In the offer, include details of the first appraisal period, well-constructed objectives you expect the new hire to accomplish

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