I wrote recently about how to maintain a positive candidate experience when you have a heavy volume of inbound applicants. What about managing time to hire?

Based on some informal polling there seems to be a direct correlation between the number of applicants and the time it takes to fill a position.

While not surprising, this can be concerning for a company in high growth mode or with urgent hiring needs.

We hear about the tyranny of choice when it comes to things like 401k plan investment options, health insurance plans, amazon products, and even the number of grocery items on a shelf.

The same thing happens when we have a historically high unemployment rate bringing us a plethora of great candidates.

1. Are you hiring on a cohort basis or a rolling basis?

Each has merit but with different impacts to your team and to the candidate experience:

Hiring on a cohort basis essentially delays the start of the interview process until there is a large enough pool of pre-qualified candidates. This ensures you interview your top candidates within a shorter range of time.

A cohort approach helps the hiring team maintain sharper focus on candidates when comparing and making a decision at each step of the interview process.

This approach also manages candidate expectations. If you don't start interviewing until you have achieved a sufficient pool of candidates you don't have to worry about a star candidate who interviewed weeks ago with no next steps feeling as though you've lost interest.

If you're hiring on a cohort basis providing clear transparency to the candidates will pay big dividends in keeping them engaged.

Additionally, if you want to protect your time to hire number you should close the job posting once you start interviewing and make sure the team recognizes their next hire will come from this pool of applicants.

Hiring on a rolling basis involves interviewing as soon as a qualified candidate is identified.

This in theory should provide a faster time to hire since your next hire may have applied the first day of the job posting. Moving this person along sooner may improve your hiring odds and time.

This approach might miss some candidates who applied to the job posting later and were not considered due to a front-runner or group of finalists.

2. Have a dedicated scoring process for candidate interviews.

This has been said before but the consistent scoring approach helps you compare attributes that you value for the particular role across all candidates. This will help whether you're interviewing and hiring on a rolling or cohort basis.

3. Define a target time to hire and stick to the plan.

There's nothing like having a deadline and a date to manage to. As a former project manager I've found it helpful to keep mini-project plans for most goals.

The date can move but there should be a good reason for doing so.

If your time to hire target is 5 weeks or 35 days which is pretty doable you just realize you have to complete all interviews, references, and get an offer out before then.

A hypothetical timeline for a 5 week to hire might look like this. For sake of simplicity this starts after job funding and approval. This also assumes your top candidate accepts the offer in a timely fashion. 

Week 1 - Job posted, candidate screening

Week 2 - candidate screening, first rounds with hiring team

Week 3 - candidate screening, first rounds with hiring team, second (final) round with hiring team, reference checks

Week 4 - Job post removed, second (final) round with hiring team, reference checks

Week 5 -  Offer requested, approved, presented.

4. Other considerations

Time to hire vs. quality of hire and tenure. There's so many variables to managing talent acquisition and maintaining a company culture. A time to hire target should not pressure you to make a decision if the right candidate hasn't emerged.

Some organizations strike the balance by hiring freelancers or contract employees and convert them to full time at a later date.

Other options for managing this process are proactively reaching out to passive candidates directly through your talent acquisition team or with external recruiting firms.

Further options are keeping a strong pipeline of potential candidates who have previously applied or expressed interest and may have already been interviewed.

I hope some of these ideas help you with your time to hire and good luck!

If you have thoughts or feedback about these tips please feel free to comment below or send feedback to contact@counterpointsolutions.com.