The team at Heller Search has some tips to help you avoid the recruiting delays that cost your organization the best the IT talent market has to offer.

You found a rock star candidate for that open CIO, VP of AppDev, or other IT leadership position, only to learn that she has accepted another offer. You aren’t surprised.

As the internal recruiter or talent acquisition professional, you spent countless hours chasing down members of the interview committee to schedule time with candidates and provide feedback, then fended off inquiries from your external search partner while you worked through preparing your offer. The process took weeks longer than you intended, so the candidate everyone really wanted slipped away and joined another company.

Unfortunately, this scenario is extremely common. Busy executives who need to interview candidates or make a final decision have many claims on their time. Even though they know the role is important, it still may not be their top priority.

Furthermore, many companies lack a well-defined process with clear milestones for completing interviews, collecting feedback, driving toward a decision, and developing an offer. As with any project, deadlines and deliverables are essential for keeping a search on track. 

Companies will also suffer recruiting delays if the position they are filling has not been well defined. When that is the case, they often add stakeholders to the interview committee mid-stream, or ask the candidate to come back to answer questions about responsibilities newly added to the job description

Here’s the bad news: in a competitive IT job market, time loses talent. Period. Full stop.

Top candidates always have competing offers, and delays give them more time to consider companies other than yours. What’s more, a drawn out interview process makes your company appear disorganized, and can create the impression among candidates that your team lacks consensus around the role. This detracts from your company’s reputation as a desirable place to work. 

Based on our experience filling hundreds of IT leadership roles, here are practices will enable you to keep your executive searches moving quickly, and increase your chances of landing your first-choice candidates. 

  1. Clearly define the role.
    Before you begin interviewing candidates, the executive team and other key stakeholders must agree on the responsibilities, qualifications and important relationships for the position. Your executive search partner has experience filling hundreds of IT executive positions and can draw on its knowledge of these roles to help you customize the job description that suits your company and culture. 
  1. Educate the interviewing committee.
    When you have a solid definition of the role, you’ll be able to more easily identify who has to be involved in the hiring decision. Get them lined up before you start interviewing candidates, and brief them about what to look for. They’ll be better prepared to ask the right questions, and you’ll reduce the chances that you’ll have to add anyone to the team later. 
  1. Create urgency.
    Interviewers should know the timeframe for filling the role, and why the deadline is important to achieving business goals. Information about the competitiveness of the job market can help stakeholders understand why acting quickly is critical. At companies who are the most successful at recruiting in IT, the CEO sets the tone, both by making talent acquisition a corporate priority and by establishing expectations for the interview committee. 
  1. Designate a champion.
    Assign someone--such as a senior leader in HR--who will be held accountable for keeping the search on track. Hiring managers have many responsibilities. A partner in HR can help manage schedules, answer questions about how to portray the company to candidates, collect feedback, and coordinate with the external search partner, if there is one. 
  1. Organize for efficiency and speed.
    Determine tasks, deliverables, and a timeline, including who will be interviewing the candidates in each round. Find out in advance whether you need to work around board meetings, business travel, holidays or vacations, so the most marketable candidates won’t have to wait weeks between interview rounds. If an interviewer is on business travel for an extended period, consider using videoconferencing, rather than in-person interviews, to keep the process moving, or asking them to appoint a proxy.

    Set up a standard method, such as a shared document or a rating system, for interviewers to enter their feedback, and give everyone a deadline (a day or two at most) for providing their input. 
  1. Expedite the offer.
    Once you get to the final round of interviews, start developing the offer with the compensation committee, even before the final decision is made on which candidate to hire. By this point, you’re in a race against time; you don’t want another company to beat you with an offer. Some companies are able to deliver their offer to their top candidate before he leaves the final interview. 

Remember that the recruiting experience provides candidates with the first impression of what it’s like to be part of your company. An efficient, fast-moving process will keep them engaged--and increase the likelihood that you will be able to hire your top candidate.

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