Candidates walking away from long hiring processes

Slow communication from potential employers is causing some job hunters to take “second-choice” job opportunities.

For a majority of job candidates, the hiring process is unbearably long.

A survey of 1,000 job-seekers in the UK found that 58% accepted a “second-choice job” because another potential employer simply took too long to make a decision. A majority of the respondents said they waited longer than a month to hear back after an interview.

The survey, commissioned by staffing firm Robert Half UK, found that 65% of candidates wanted an answer within one or two weeks. And they often have some leverage to make demands: Some candidates have 20 applications in the air at any one time, according to the report.

Survey respondents also were frustrated with poor communication about the recruitment process, requirements to do multiple job interviews with the same employers, and a lack of transparency about pay and other benefits.

The length of the wait, of course, depends on the place and the job. A 2017 study by Glassdoor Economic Research found that Brazil has the longest average interview process, taking about 40 days, while India has the shortest at just 16 days. The countries with the most flexible hiring rules tend to have the fastest hires.

Automating the hiring process

A recent report from LinkedIn suggests a solution: Businesses need to change the “highly transactional” nature of the hiring process.

The study’s authors advise companies to use machine learning to sift through candidates, delivering a short list of qualified candidates and allowing managers to spend more time with each person. About 34% of the 8,815 respondents rated artificial intelligence as very or extremely important.

One company in the study, Unilever, managed to shrink its graduate hiring process by about 75% with a combination of easy applications, automated sorting, gamified assessments, and video interviews.

But that doesn’t mean all companies are ready to fulfil wishes for an easier process. Strong majorities of respondents said that traditional techniques, from phone screenings to interview panels, are still effective. Only 36% said that the traditional process is too long.

Andrew Kenney is an FM magazine contributing editor based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Jack Hagel, an FM editorial director, at