How long do you have? The ticking clock of candidate hiring

6 minute read

Posted by Chris Platts on 6 December 2022

So you find a candidate interested in the role you’re hiring for through your recruitment process and a few weeks later they sign on the dotted line and everything is good in the world, right? 

If only fairy tales were real! 

Although it certainly used to be as simple as that right? 

  • Post a job ad 
  • Have an influx of applicants 
  • Assess the applicants using a realistic day-in-the-life assessment (if you’re not doing this we need to talk!) 
  • Offer the best candidate(s) the role
  • They accept
  • Start date! 

Does this process feel like a routine of the past? A lot of our clients would agree. 

What we are calling the ‘Candidate Ticking Clock’ is a symptom of the pendulum swing from an employer-driven hiring market to an employee-driven hiring market.

We think it is a sign of worse things to come if businesses don’t stop acting like they are holding all of the cards…yikes! 

The wise recruiter will question its entire process, from start to finish. Right now, with some businesses, there is a denial that there is a problem. 

So let’s walk through the process and figure out how to fix things:

  • Candidates generally ‘mass-apply’ for roles using job boards such as Indeed, where the ‘one-click-apply’ option has made it so easy for candidates to scroll through a list of roles and click, click, click to apply to them all. 

And the clock begins to tick

  • Your recruitment or talent acquisition team goes through all of the applicants and painstakingly reaches out to your chosen candidates. They either do this in one go – after leaving the ad up for say a week, or they do it daily. Both come with challenges – if you wait for a few days or weeks, the candidates who applied on day one are less likely to respond. If you do it daily – or even hourly, your response rate may increase, but the chances of a consistent and fair screening process decrease – e.g. external factors such as the mood you’re in, or availability heuristic (see our CEO – Chris Platt’s post on cognitive biases) will affect which candidates you’re likely to prioritise.

The clock continues to tick 

  • A percentage of those candidates will accept the opportunity to interview (if they reply at all) and you then conduct the interview process over a number of days and weeks, sometimes months. The speed at which you respond to an applicant can often dictate whether that candidate will follow through to the interview (if invited). 

A survey on Indeed shows how long candidates are waiting to hear back from companies: 

  • 44% hear from employers within a couple of weeks of applying
  • 37% hear back within one week
  • Only 4% hear back within one day.

That clock is STILL ticking – can you hear it? 

  • How many interviews are enough to ascertain whether this is the right candidate? If the candidate already has a position they are happy in, is your organisation giving them a good reason to jump ship? Even if a candidate is unhappy with the role they’re currently in, the breadth of choice and role opportunities displaces the ‘all eggs in one basket’ thought process. It needs to be repeated that you do not hold the cards here. Also, as a side note, we like to mention, the newer generation of employees have values that do not necessarily revolve around money – a new and frustrating challenge for your team. Your inefficient interview system is dragging this process on. Remember that you are not the only one after this candidate. There are other recruiters looking but also their current company is interested in keeping them too. 

All the while there is a tick tick ticking of the clock.

  • Did the interviews go well and did you convince them that your company is special? Did the candidate get a good idea of the work environment they will be walking into and did they believe in your company’s ethos, culture, and values?

Reality check

The longer you take, your candidate’s worries could begin to grow. Their current job might not let them go without a fight. They will receive counter offers from the other roles they applied for and they might not even be about money. 

Now, this process can take between 2 weeks to 2 months from receipt of application to offer, but with more people involved in the decision or other candidates entering the mix later on, sometimes it can many months. 

Ask yourself this: if you had to wait two months for a decision, would it be your sole priority? Would you start forgetting details about the company and the role? Would doubt set in and would you start reconsidering your application?

The fact of the matter is that when a company is indecisive, it does not give a very good impression of that company.

The solution (or part of it anyway) 

Get really comfortable with understanding what you’re asking a candidate to do. By that we mean – understanding the role realities inside and out will help you answer any and all questions they might have (those unanswered questions feed into that pesky doubt once they leave the room/zoom). There is sometimes a disconnect between the HR/TA team and the people who actually do the role (even between the manager of said roles’ department and the people who do the role).

This is why our day-in-the-life assessments have really changed the game for companies like Wincanton, Safelite, TELUS and so many others – because they’re able to take an honest account of the role they’re hiring for and present it to the candidate in a super engaging way and then (yep it gets better) score that candidate based on his/her/their ability to do that role.

Streamline your process, commit to it, and then measure its effectiveness. What do we mean by this? Taking time as a hiring team to understand your high-volume hiring needs and then systemising the entire process for maximum speed (because we know that the clock is ticking) and maximum return (more candidates through to the offer stage) is a powerful commitment to recruitment. 

Ultimately using assessments takes out a huge amount of interview time for you and your team. Utilising realistic job assessments goes one step further in empowering you to progress with candidates based on a systematic, data-backed approach (great from an accountability perspective).

Take the pain out of recruiting for your company by understanding your candidate’s timeline, not the other way around. 


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About ThriveMap

ThriveMap creates customised assessments for high volume roles, which take candidates through an online “day in the life” experience of work in your company. Our assessments have been proven to reduce staff turnover, reduce time to hire, and improve quality of hire.

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