The Cost of a Slow Hiring Process

Full employment. I feel it. It's definitely happening in San Francisco where there just aren't enough people for all of the jobs here. Even at the entry level, things are not easy.

Moreover, there are a few big employers snapping up top talent with aggressive compensation packages, IPO dreams and flashy perks. How does a small company or startup compete for talent?


You probably need more than speed. Make sure you set your Talent go-to-market first, but after that you must focus on speed as your advantage: How fast can you make a decision to hire?

Some interesting data: Top candidates (those that get interest from over 10 employers) are all mostly in a job within 21 days of their first interview. These are the top candidates. Industry average time to hire is usually around 30 days.

If you are moving too slow, that means you are giving up control of the process. It means that some of the candidates you would have liked to hire are no longer available. It means not only is your hiring process itself is slow, but your throughput (the number of hires that you get from your pipeline) is decreased. Moreover, speed is what candidates want. If they like you, they want you to move fast. Capture the momentum.

Being slow is no way to hire and build a team.

There are exceptions: if you have a huge brand with publicly-known industry-leading compensation packages, than great candidates will hang around to finish your process. If you aren't in that acclaimed few, and you have a hiring process over 30 days, your hiring process is suboptimal.

There are a number of places to improve your time to hire. Start first with finding a good ATS - I like Greenhouse. Once you have run a few processes, you can see where you are spending the most time. Common best practices include:

  • Set an SLA on candidate review from your hiring managers or recruiters (usually 1 business day)
  • Get commitment from the first interviewer on availability. Make sure they are being as flexible as reasonable to accommodate candidates
  • Limit the steps in your process: each step is going to add 3-7 days.
  • Make sure your on-sites are intentional and compact. If you can reasonably do the onsite in 4 hours, do that
  • Make sure there is a clear decision making framework
  • If you are on the fence with a candidate, that is a "no". Move on

These are simple strategies that give you some ideas on how you can improve your time to hire. Each company will be different and the ability for recruiting to make demands to improve the hiring funnel is critical to building an outstanding team.

This was edited with the input of Sara Sadek, a diversity and management consultant at Attuned Advising.

Trent Krupp

Founded Threaded: The personal rolodex built from your existing data. Previously, Head of Product at Impact, a market network serving the entertainment industry as well as Head of Revenue at Triplebyte and Hired. Founded an agency in my 20's, sold it to Hired and became employee 5. Recruited for VCs, growth and public companies. Helped the founders of recruitment tech startups, Trusted Health, Terminal and Beacon in the early days.