By Robert Gallagher

Chipotle Mexican Grill made news this month for announcing their push to hire 4,000 workers in a single day. Although fast-food companies might have an edge over other business models when it comes to speed, there’s no reason every company can’t cut down on their time-to-fill.

The hiring process is at an all-time slow. The DHI Group time-to-hire index, a measure of how long it takes U.S. companies to fill positions, rose to a record 29 working days this summer. Every day a role stays open is lost money. Every day a recruiter or HR specialist wastes on a search is lost labor. Worst of all, an extended search can mean losing top talent to other, more effective competitors.

Here’s how some companies are trimming down the hiring process:

Set expectations. When candidates are initially contacted they should be provided with a timeline to expect a follow-up or next step. This could be 24 hours, or 48 hours, or a week. The key is to set a realistic schedule for the process and stick to it. This works both ways.  Hiring managers will be more responsive with feedback if the process is built around a separate schedule than their own. Obviously, this can be a challenge for high level roles that require approval by “C-suite” executives with schedules that move for no one. Change needs to come from the top down. 

Cut the filler. The little delays add up. Eliminate “gaps” in the process by providing prompt feedback whenever possible, and never emailing where a call is required. Even if multiple steps are called for, there is no reason for gaps of days and even weeks that often go by between decisions or next steps. Schedule interviews back-to-back, provide personality assessments same day, and get feedback immediately! A hiring manager’s vacation is not sufficient reason to delay hiring across an entire department. Skype video calls are another way top companies are working around schedules and keeping the hire process on-track.

Less candidates = More Talent. Don’t bring 10 candidates on-site for a single role. Managers that do this might claim they are “getting comparisons” or “feeling out the market” but in reality this is just cover if they make a bad hire. The time that goes into arranging schedules, managing logistics, and getting feedback reserves the on-site stage for top candidates only, when intangibles such as personality and aptitude are the deciding factor.  Make the call at either the resume or phone screen stage and stick with it. Candidates should not show up for a face-to-face only to admit they lack skills vital for the role.

Call for help. It doesn’t matter if the delay is at a smaller firm with a single HR Manager or a Multi-national organization: the “end game” of the process may be impervious to change. The best candidates will only be on the market for a short time, and ultimately will take offers elsewhere if kept waiting. If roles are still open after months of searching it may be time to bring on additional resources. Search firms that screen candidates prior to submittal can source top talent at a fraction of the cost incurred by both open positions and HR’s time that might be spent elsewhere. Focus on building a relationship with a firm that understands your needs and expectations for candidates; looking at pre-screened candidates should greatly speed the additional steps in the process.  

Extending the hire process doesn’t weed out bad candidates; top talent will take better offers while the stale, unemployed, desperate leftovers will be all that’s left. Every candidate should enjoy the right to a speedy interview process. Bring quality hires into the company while bringing down your time-to-fill.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Gallagher is an Executive Recruiter and Career Coach at The Denzel Group. He received his Bachelors in Corporate Communications from Penn State University. He has published works in Lehigh Valley Business, The Fordyce Letter, Tradition Magazine, InQ, The Pottstown-Mercury and is a LinkedIn contributor. Follow him on The Denzel Group’s LinkedIn site:

THE DENZEL GROUP: The Denzel Group conducts Contingent, Retained and Staff Augmentation Information Technology searches for a wide variety of clients. Using our tried and proven 17-step search process, we are able to provide our clients with critically talented Information Technology professionals in a timely and cost efficient manner. Visit us at

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