A never-ending process is unwieldy for you as an employer and burns out prospective candidates. In addition, emerging evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic period shows women may choose to leave the workforce rather than endure unpredictable job searches that may or may not result in hiring for positions that are under-compensated and undervalued.
A national study of job seekers in 2016 showed that nearly 60% of job seekers felt that the single most frustrating part of the job search process was waiting to hear back about whether or not they got the position after moving through an interview process. But what is too long? Before reading further, answer this question for yourself. Then consider that according to this data, approximately 25% lose interest in a position if they haven’t heard from a prospective employer within a week after an initial interview. Close to 50% lose interest if they don’t have a status update within two weeks after their initial interview. Employers lose out on excellent candidates by delaying. Overall, approximately 40% report that lengthy hiring processes cause them to lose interest and move on to other job opportunities. Recall that very rarely are we as employers the only offer, the only option or the only position a candidate is looking at. The longer we wait to interview, be in touch, or even to make a job offer, the more likely it is that an excellent candidate will hear from another organization and accept that position first. (And see this compelling data from 2020 with some helpful geographic data)
One way to support more effective communication and streamline the process is to set up autoresponders. This helps to prevent bottlenecks that might occur if you attempt to manually respond to every applicant, and relieves additional burdens on you and your team. Autoresponses could notify candidates when their application is received, when they should expect to hear about next steps, when to schedule an interview, when to submit more information, and other steps along the way. And simply because these are automated does not mean that they are impersonal: it is possible to craft them in ways that are thoughtful, creative and respectful.
So don’t just let folks know what to expect. Make the process efficient and effective, and model the practice of streamlined decision-making. When you’re indecisive and wait for a “better” candidate to come along, this offers your current candidate pool meaningful insights into how your organization makes decisions, or doesn’t. Don’t allow your best candidate to go elsewhere for another job.