Hiring Times Continue to Rise Globally as Recruitment Screening Methods Multiply

December 7, 2015 – Hiring times in the U.S., Canada, and in many major European markets and Australia are mushrooming, according to several new research reports.

Adding time to the hiring clock is putting hiring plans in disarray, setting talent acquisition professionals off to conduct more of their own search work in an effort to reduce hiring cycle times. Recruiting firms are trying to solve the problem by adding personnel who can conduct candidate due diligence and execute assignments at faster rates.

Why Is Hiring Taking Longer?

The time required for a candidate to progress through the hiring process has increased dramatically in recent years, according to a new talent report from Glassdoor Economic Research titled “Why Is Hiring Taking Longer?”

Glassdoor’s research reveals that hiring times in the U.S., Canada, and in many major European markets and Australia are growing as employer screening methods — including background checks, drug tests, and skills & personality assessments — are rising.

“Search firms are also adding time to the hiring clock,” said Hunt Scanlon Media chief executive Scott A. Scanlon, who said recruiters are spending more time analyzing candidates for cultural fit. Spencer Stuart and Heidrick & Struggles are two senior talent providers Hunt Scanlon looked at closely in its upcoming search industry report. Both firms are now incorporating standardized measurement and ‘intelligence’ tools into their search models to better evaluate the competencies of top candidates.

“As a result of that more sophisticated methodology, these search providers might be extending the recruiting process where time is often a critical factor for a client company seeking a must-have executive without delay,” said Mr. Scanlon.

“There’s nothing worse than delaying a corporate search committee that is eagerly waiting to name its next functional leader or chief executive officer.”

Evaluating Talent With Science

Egon Zehnder, the pioneer in the leadership audit and assessment field, uses a less demanding system of tests and tools, relying instead on an innovative model that focuses on leadership ‘potential.’ The firm says that many other methods used to select and develop talent have not kept pace with the changing requirements for effective leadership.

Mr. Scanlon said this is all about bringing science and data into the business of evaluating and quantifying people and their skills. “The larger executive search players seem to be using science-based methodologies as a way to differentiate themselves from their boutique specialist rivals,” said Mr. Scanlon.

Hunt Scanlon data reveals that most search firms used to report that it took 100 days on average to complete an assignment, with some exceptions based on the difficulty of the position specification.

“That promise is gone now,” said Mr. Scanlon. “We are now seeing searches taking upwards of double that time. It could be tied to individual recruiters taking on too much work, but we think it is more likely the result of testing and assessments and fit evaluations gone amuck.”

Mr. Scanlon said executive search firms are increasing hiring to stop the cycle time clock. “Whether cycle times will, in fact, be reversed is anyone’s guess. Right now, the best we can hope for is a leveling off in the time it takes to bring a search assignment from start to finish in an agreeable period of time.”

Rise of Employer Screening Techniques

While there has been little change over the years in most interview techniques, job candidates report a rise in several types of employer screening techniques. In the U.S., candidate background checks increased from 25 percent in 2010 to a whopping 42 percent today. You can thank the rise in social media sites for that one.

Other hiring screening techniques that have become more common include skills tests (23 percent today versus 16 percent in 2010), drug tests (23 percent vs 13 percent) and personality tests (18 percent, up from 12 percent five years ago).

Each of these additional employer “screens” added a statistically significant amount to average time required for candidates to go through the hiring process.

Jobs that take the longest for candidates to go through the hiring process were typically government, academic or senior executive positions.

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