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Why is the hiring process so long?

29 Mar 2024

Assessments, multiple interviews and background checks… It seems many candidates are getting their own back by ‘ghosting’ employers who are slow to reply.

There’s no accounting for nepotism and cronyism, but generally speaking, gone are the days when you’d get hired on the spot.

Most employers, no matter the industry, take a while to assess applicants and let them know whether they are successful or not. This can be very frustrating when you’re the jobseeker; no one wants to be waiting weeks to hear about an application. It’s even worse somehow if a candidate makes it through a few stages only to be rejected at the last hurdle.

But that’s just how the jobs market is at the moment. No doubt it is similarly frustrating for managers to have to struggle through red tape just to hire new talent – especially when it’s in short supply.

What do employers do while I’m waiting?

The modern hiring process tends to be long for several reasons. For one thing, most processes involve multiple stages – either interviews or assessments. These take time to organise, evaluate and deliberate over.

Another reason it takes so long to hire staff is employers want to carry out background checks, such as contacting references. This tends to be a way for employers to avoid inadvertently hiring someone who has lied about their experience or skills. It is kind of like an insurance mechanism in that it takes time to do but often ends up being worth it for employers who value quality hires.

As well as checks on the candidates, employers have to make sure that everything is legally sound on their end. If, for example, a company is hiring in another jurisdiction, they have to ensure that its payroll and tax processes are fully compliant with the local laws.

While there are organisations that offer services for other companies that want to hire in other jurisdictions, companies that are already looking abroad to hire talent often cannot afford to outsource hiring. Therefore, they have to pour their own internal resources – often consisting of understaffed HR departments – into completing recruitment compliance checklists. That tends to be a problem for smaller companies, mainly. Big companies have their reasons for long recruitment processes too. The most common problem? Too many departments have a say in who gets hired and how they get hired, making recruitment a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

Are the tables turning?

People don’t like long hiring processes because people don’t like waiting – that’s fairly self-explanatory. According to research carried out by Indeed UK, a lot of jobseekers are abandoning their job applications because they’re so fed up with waiting to hear from recruiters.

Indeed UK teamed up with Censuswide to poll 1,506 jobseekers about ‘ghosting’ employers – that is, leaving prospective bosses without a response if they take too long to respond. A significant majority (86pc) of UK jobseekers have not shown up for a job interview without notice. The practice was more common among Gen Z and millennials, with more than three-quarters (79pc) having ghosted in the past year.

One might think of this type of behaviour as childish – the phrase ‘ghosting’ even comes from the dating world, which is not a world that should ever mix with professionalism. However, it’s also true that waiting to hear back from jobs is stressful and candidates are well within their rights to exit the recruitment process if they feel their time is being wasted. If the practice of ghosting is as widespread everywhere as it seems to be in the UK, it might well force employers to re-evaluate how they recruit. If they don’t, talent shortages could haunt them.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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