There is greater pressure than ever on employers to complete hiring processes swiftly. Why? Well, from the company’s perspective it is important to secure the best candidate before anyone else does. Vacant roles are a drain on productivity and resources. For the candidate, getting their feet under the table and quickly acclimatising to new tasks and processes – particularly in a specialised position – is essential. And the bottom line is, they will want to start earning money and gaining experience.

So it makes sense to complete a recruitment process as efficiently as possible.

So why is the opposite happening, and what is it costing your company?

The why of long recruitment

To better put this in context, we can turn to Glassdoor’s figures on the average interview process for jobs in several countries. In the USA and Canada, the process takes 22.9 days on average. In the UK, France and Germany, the number was 4 to 9 days higher. That is a solid month from beginning to end of an interview process, and it’s only been increasing since 2009.

It’s understandable why companies may want to make their recruitment process more comprehensive. A new hire in any role is also an expensive investment, in more ways than one. The Wall Street Journal estimates that it can take six months to a year for a new employee to be completely brought up to speed. It is a great deal of time and money to invest for an unsuccessful candidate. In addition, jobs that require higher skills – such as key positions or roles in tech – will demand a more selective process. Panel interviews, candidate screening, skills tests and presentations are all effective ways of diversifying the recruitment process but they do have an effect on hiring time. Based on Linkedin research from 2021, it is indeed roles in the knowledge industry that take the longest to recruit for.

Larger companies – with more agglomerated and centralised Human Resources departments – also generally have the slowest turnarounds. Candidate screenings are more stringent and the interview process more lengthy.

What is it costing you?

How can you tell if this is a problem in the first place? There are several key signs to look out for. Linkedin suggests that your top prospect taking another offer within the time it takes your company to issue a response is a significant indicator. Vacant positions remaining open for a matter of months is another sign.

You can even take a look at your existing employee base. A paper by Harvard Business Review reported that 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. If you missed out on your ideal candidates and settled for your second or third choices, they could eventually prove to be a poor fit for your company. Inevitably the negative effects of long recruitment cascade down to damage your employee retention rates.

Talent Adore, a company that builds recruitment software, estimates that nearly a quarter of all candidates begin losing interest in a position if they receive no answer a week after interview, rising to 46% after two weeks. It may be that while candidates in certain sectors are actually prepared for a long process, it is lack of communication that is most frustrating. This can be the difference between a company that appears agile and one that appears unresponsive.

Final Thoughts

Companies that establish longer and more comprehensive recruitment processes – while trying to reduce the risk of a costly mis-hire – are ironically putting themselves at risk of losing high-demand candidates. The end result of appointing your less favoured candidates defeats the point of a long recruitment process to begin with.

A slow hiring process can also expose your company to losing out on revenue and productivity through vacant positions. Your brand could be tarnished by a negative experience for both candidates and current employees. More than ever, the power in the recruitment process is swinging in favour of prospective talent, particularly in specialised roles requiring specific skills. Many factors for this are out of your control – but you can prevent a sluggish long recruitment process from deterring the best candidates.


Continental Search Alliance recruits for mid-level to C-suite executive positions from scalable startups to the world’s largest tech firms, combining tech and digital expertise with extensive reach across EMEA and APAC. 


Written by Tom Boughen for CSA.