Develop a 1-Day Hiring Program to Avoid Losing In-Demand Candidates, Part 1

By Dr. John Sullivan   

The average time to fill an average job in the United States is 25 days; unfortunately, in many cases top candidates are no longer available after 10 days.

You may think that making quick hiring decisions would lower the quality of your hire, but the reality is that in most cases, the reverse is true. The very best candidates are in high demand. They are likely to receive multiple offers. And because they are decisive individuals, they are likely to accept another offer before most corporate processes are only one third completed. If you’re skeptical, simply have an intern call your top candidates each day and ask them if they’re still available. You’ll be surprised to learn how quickly they are gone.

I am not advocating one-day or same day hiring for every job. However, you need to have this option available when either a top candidate applies or for jobs where your data shows that available candidates are quickly out of the market (like nursing and software engineer vacancies). You can maintain high-quality hiring standards using same-day hiring if you take the air out of your normal hiring process and if you learn how to assess candidates quickly. More on the “how-to” later, but first let’s go over the many benefits of one-day hiring.

The Many Benefits of One-day Hiring

Although one-day hiring has been proven to work in many corporations (I’ve been advocating it since 1998), it’s still a good idea to be able to show cynical hiring managers how it will benefit them. Thirteen of these benefits are listed below:

  1. Quality hires — because you won’t lose top candidates, it will produce new hires with the same or better on-the-job performance and retention. BTW, there is simply no data that shows that a longer time to fill has a positive impact on hire quality.
  2. It impresses candidates – holding same-day interviews and making same day offers will certainly get your candidate’s attention, because it shows you are decisive, which is a feature top performers demand. Getting a call immediately after applying and being invited almost immediately is so out of the norm that it impresses candidates and it makes them feel important. Shortening the hiring cycle means a better candidate experience because they don’t have to return multiple times for interviews. Being able to say yes and thus not having to stretch out their job search is also a positive. Wasting people’s time with an extended hiring process irritates candidates and it can make them think that you don’t respect them
  3. It impresses hiring managers – one of the primary reasons why hiring managers don’t pay attention to recruiting is that there is such a long time period between when they need the talent and when it actually starts. One-day hiring shortens that time delay dramatically and it gets them the staff that they need almost immediately. One-day hiring also educates hiring managers, so that they learn quickly that any delays that they themselves cause in the normal hiring process reduces their chances of getting top candidates.
  4. Quicker time to productivity – because open positions will be vacant for fewer days, your new hires can be on the job much faster. Less “position vacancy days” obviously pleases hiring managers, recruiters, and even teammates. In addition, for revenue-generating positions, this means a significant increase in the amount of revenue that will be generated. And for customer service positions, customer satisfaction will also increase because you have reduced vacant positions.
  5. You can get higher acceptance rates – giving candidates lots of time to think about whether they want to work for your firm (especially if you’re not a top choice) can actually give them time to raise doubts and questions. One-day hiring doesn’t give them an extended period of time to talk their job choices over with their colleagues and families, who might dissuade them.
  6. You get decisive hires – because same-day hiring rewards candidates who know precisely what they want in a job and a firm, you are likely to get hires who are a great fit. In addition, because one-day hiring requires candidates to make a quick decision, your new hires are likely to be decisive on the job also.
  7. It reduces opportunities for candidates to change their mind – in-demand candidates who are working are highly likely to get a counteroffer from their current boss. Getting them to say yes before they leave dramatically reduces the chance of them even listening to a counteroffer from the current boss.
  8. It provides a competitive advantage – making a quick offer reduces a top candidate’s opportunity to wait for a better offer (that might be superior) from slower-acting firms that they’ve applied at. In this case, the “early bird catches the worm” analogy is true.
  9. Recruiters like it – nothing makes a recruiter happier then closing one of their requisitions. In addition, a long drawn out hiring process also requires a lot of recruiter time for candidate scheduling, and since all interviews occur during the same day, recruiters like this process.
  10. Improved diversity – because highly qualified diverse candidates in key jobs are always in high demand, hiring quickly before other firms have a chance to make their offer will likely have a positive impact on diversity hiring.
  11. A low candidate dropout rate – for qualified jobs, if you call top candidates immediately and schedule your one-day interviews within a week, you can reduce your candidate dropout rate to essentially zero. This is critical because there is nothing worse in recruiting than having a top candidate apply and show interest, only to lose them because your hiring process takes too long.
  12. Candidates can be enticed to say yes quickly – if you are willing to provide “exploding offers” you can effectively entice top candidates to say yes on the same day.
  13. The tight job market makes it essential – if you are recruiting in industries like technology or healthcare where the demand for talent is intense, the speed of hire may be essential for all jobs and even for mediocre candidates. For these high-demand jobs, if you don’t do fast hiring, you may find that every one of the acceptable candidates are gone within two weeks.The current 25-day “time to fill” is the longest since 2001, which indicates that corporate hiring processes haven’t adapted to the new candidate-driven job market.

Most Hiring Takes Too Long

The reason most hiring decisions take so long are varied, but the primary reason is that most hiring systems were developed to hire unemployed people who have the time to go through an arduous process. I call it “death by interview.” However, at any time, but especially during periods of low unemployment, employed people and top candidates have little time or inclination to go through a long, drawn-out process. Since most of the delays in hiring occurred during the interview phase, even if you merely adopt a one-day interviewing process, you will decrease your candidate dropout rate significantly. If you want more information about how to increase your hiring speed for all jobs, I have another article on that topic.

Slow hiring means vacancies. The cost of a vacant position can be extremely high. One computer firm calculated it at $7,000 a day, and another at $1 million a week for key executive positions. Slow hiring delays product time to market, and vacancies may frustrate other team members and increase their chances of them leaving also. It is very similar to being late in asking a popular person to the prom. The longer you wait to ask the top candidates, the less likely that you’ll get a yes to your offer and the more likely you’ll end up with an “ugly” date!

Dr. John Sullivan   is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website