Question

You’ve no doubt seen all the news items about how difficult it is to fill jobs these days because so many people aren’t interested in working. I’ve been trying to get a key job filled in my department. I’m in a rush to hire. I can tell you the competition is very stiff. Human Resources keeps losing hires to other employers, even though we’re making competitive job offers.

Today I’m really upset because, after 3 weeks of interviews (everyone was very positive about her) we lost a candidate I thought was a definite hire. When I spoke to her about 10 days ago I made it clear that an offer was being processed and I could tell how pleased she was! We just needed to get a final signature. (The finance manager that signs off was on a trip long put off because of the virus.) Finally HR told me they called her with the offer. She went to another company. What’s going on with people now?

Nick’s Reply

rush to hireI’m going to take a stab and read between the lines. You’ve lost lots of candidates you wanted to hire. You interviewed the most recent candidate over a period of three weeks — way too long. Then it seems you took over two weeks to get an offer out to her. My guess is that, in this highly competitive hiring market, you’re way too s-l-o-w… taking way too long to complete a hire.

Probably the single best way for a company to solve problems, boost productivity and be successful is to get the right people on board as quickly as possible. So, why does the hiring process seem to take longer than a presidential election campaign? Is it because we’re hiring presidents every day? Nope.

It’s because responsibility for hiring is broadly distributed. No one is really in charge of being in a rush to hire.

Who’s in a rush to hire?

It’s easy for a manager to think, “I’ve got the right candidate. I’m ready to hire! Now it’s HR’s job to put the offer together and make this happen.”

Or, “My V.P. has to sign off on this. It’s in his court.”

And, “I’m a busy manager. I don’t have time to baby-sit the job offer process.”

In today’s world, managers seem to have more important things to do than hiring the best people to do the work. For too many managers, hiring is not job #1. That’s why companies rely on HR departments and clerks to process employment paperwork — right? If managers like you spent their time just getting new hires on board, there would be no time left to run the business!

That’s the wrong attitude. Hiring is every manager’s #1 priority — or the business doesn’t run at all.

How long does it take to hire?

A search for statistics about how long it takes employers to make a hire turns up scarce recent data, which is revealing by itself. What’s the HR industry hiding? It appears to be such a tender nerve that reports from 2016 and 2017 are heavily cross-referenced even today. The most widely cited is from 2016.

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) has reported that the average time to fill a position is 42 days. But, according to an OfficeVibe report, “The best candidates are off the market in 10 days.

Of course, time to hire varies by industry and position. We can only wonder how long it’s taking today, in the early post-COVID period when employers complain they can’t find enough good candidates. But common sense tells us that the faster you can hire, the better your chances of your offer being accepted.

My evidence is only anecdotal, but the best job seekers and candidates I’ve worked with say the employer that makes a good offer decisively and quickly scores big points. We don’t really have good, current data about how long it should take to fill a job. But we know that less is better. “We decided we want you now!” seems to count a lot to job applicants.

Managers: Make hiring job #1

Another thing candidates tell me is that they are impressed by can-do managers who take personal responsibility for getting them on board. “That’s the kind of boss I want!”

If you’re in a rush to hire, but you wait for HR to handle your hiring, consider this: You probably can’t fill vacant jobs because another manager in another company (One of your competitors?) is stealing your best candidates. She’s hand-walking a job offer through the system, pushing aside the obstacles, riding herd on her boss until the documents are signed, riding herd on the HR department to do its job, and getting everything processed the same day. The return on this manager’s time investment is huge. She’s got a new employee on the job, getting the work done.

Meanwhile, you’ve got vacant jobs. Your investment in this last candidate just got lost on the way through “the approval process.” Your top candidate went to work for your competitor. Impressed with the other manager’s can-do attitude, “your” candidate took the other offer. (See Why HR should get out of the hiring business.)

If you’re a manager, next time don’t be so busy. Replace the wait-for-HR-to-do-it attitude with your own initiative and expedited process. Make sure you’re interviewing only the best candidates. Interview faster. Eliminate delays. Make faster decisions. Hand-walk the job offer through the approval process the same day. Or, prepare to spend your valuable time interviewing more candidates while your competitor is busy hiring them.

Are job offers flying out fast? Are managers showing any rush to fill jobs? Whether you’re a job seeker or a hiring manager, what do you think hampers efficient hiring? What obstacles have you encountered? What could employers do to speed up the process?

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67 Comments
  1. “The finance manager that signs off was on a trip long put off because of the virus.”

    Does the finance manager have an assistant manager who can sign off on such things? How about the finance manager’s manager? Surely the CEO or any other high level officer can sign off on such things. If there’s an emergency requiring the finance manager’s approval, does everything screech to a halt until the finance manager comes back from vacation?

    Sounds like one of the obstacles Nick mentions. This is one of those situations where you tell people the candidate will be gone by the time the finance manager gets back, so someone up the chain of command needs to put pen to paper.

    • The mere fact that this signature could halt the entire process would have been a big red flag to me, as a candidate. It says a lot about the company, and in particular, about the finance manager’s exaggerated need for control.

    • @Chris: Seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it?! But it’s up to the hiring manager to “hand-walk” that thing through the process. I know managers who take hiring so seriously that they escort the docs until the deal is complete.

    • @Chris: Yes, it sounds like that is exactly what happens. When the finance manager (or anyone else who is required to sign off on the hire) goes on vacation, everything does come to screeching halt, and the company lost the candidate the hiring manager wanted.

      I worked at a large state university, and if you had a boss who had to sign off on paperwork but didn’t ever want to delegate signatory authority, then things came to screeching halt. People didn’t get paid, courses didn’t get posted (meaning students couldn’t register for them), and more. Delegating signatory authority was an option, but that only worked if the person was willing to do it. I had bosses who were perfectly happy to delegate that authority so the daily business of the dept. wouldn’t come to a standstill while they were on vacation, and I had a boss who refused to delegate that authority, and it created such big headaches and delays, and could really screw things up.

      And sometimes there is no one else. With this same employer, I remember how in another dept. there was only one employee who had authority to sign off on certain forms/paperwork. She got impaneled on a grand jury for months, which meant that everything she did got delayed. My boss pitched a fit, but there were thousands of people in line ahead of her, so she had to wait until the woman’s grand jury service was over. Then, the woman’s father died, so she took bereavement leave to deal with his death, help plan his funeral. My boss was livid, but until the university hired someone to help her (and they wouldn’t, because in normal circumstances, her job didn’t require an assistant), my boss would have to wait. And she did, because she didn’t have a choice.

      But I agree with you: there should be a contingency plan for who will be able to sign off on a variety of paperwork, be it to hire someone or for other matters, when the signer is away. What if the finance manager had gotten run over by a bus and would be in the hospital for a long time? What if the finance manager dropped dead? There should be a plan B and even a plan C for these kinds of things. And if they don’t have a contingency plan, even for something so simple as to delegate signatory authority while on vacation, then I wonder how well the company runs as a whole, if something like this (not getting the proper signature plus HR delays) causes them to lose a good candidate. And if the hiring manager lacks the authority to go around HR, then that’s another red flag.

  2. LW, replace the word candidate with date or significant other. Is this how you would want to be treated?

    1.) “I’ve been trying to get a key job filled in my department. I’m in a rush to hire.”
    >>It’s your job and your priority. Not finance, HR or anyone else. Put the cost of the open position in terms of dollars and cents to your manager, and watch the gates open.

    2.)”Today I’m really upset because, after 3 weeks of interviews (everyone was very positive about her) we lost a candidate”
    >>You’re upset? Imagine being the candidate who felt disrespected after through 3 weeks of interviews and 10 days after your phone call.

    3.)”The finance manager that signs off was on a trip long put off because of the virus.”
    >>Phooey on the virus. Would the company function if the finance manager won the lottery? What is the backup plan?

    4.)”Finally HR told me they called her with the offer. She went to another company.”
    >>Why is HR calling with your job offers, unless this is an HR position?

    5.)”What’s going on with people now?”
    >>The candidate just told you. You are not that special. The culprit can be seen in the bathroom mirror when you brush your teeth.

    If you think that this seems harsh, wait until your other subordinates get fed up and leave after covering the work that was supposed to be done by the new hire.

  3. The original poster also seems to think his indication that an offer was forthcoming meant something to the candidate. It doesn’t to a savvy job hunter. I’ve had or know others who’ve had multiple such assurances not come through for any number of reasons – that the hiring manager was ahead of himself and did not yet have the authority to actually hire someone for the position then never got the final okay, that it was being told to the top 3 or 4 candidates to keep them available if they didn’t get their first choice, that a hiring freeze was put in place between the last interview and the actual offer, that a layoff was announced and managers were told open positions needed to be filled with people who would otherwise be laid off, that an internal candidate appeared at the last minute and they got preference, that a company bigwig wanted someone else to be hired, etc.

  4. I say HR shouldn’t be actively involved in the process at all until you’ve decided who you want to make an offer to. Hr can then run a background check and ready the paperwork for benefits and taxes. but if they’re not completely finished with their part of the process in 48 hours, fire the entire department on the grounds that they’re dead weight. They can come back when they’re ready to actually contribute something to the process instead of just getting in the way and slowing it down.

    • Metrics used to judge HR departments often include “time to hire” and “number of fills” as well as “fill ratios.” Kinda makes you wonder who even looks at these, eh?

      Keep in mind: Hiring rates go up when a company brings in and interviews the right candidates to start with. The fire hose of applicants delivered by ATSes is hardly full of “right candidates” because nobody knows until after the interviews.

      And I’m serious about this. The interview itself should not be where the candidate is first evaluated. But, other than matching keywords, what does an employer do to judge applicants before even considering them?

      • To answer your question about how employers can judge applicants even before interviewing them.
        1) Assume getting HR out of the hiring process is above your pay grade. Don’t fight the system. Work within it by giving HR a different kind of briefing on what you want them to look for in incoming resumes. While most resumes will focus entirely on job descriptions and irrelevancies and can be set aside after a 10-second glance, a very few will describe how the writer – in earlier positions – met the challenges that the new hire must meet and solved the problems that the new hire must solve. When HR is given a cheat sheet of the challenges and problems that all desireable candidates’ resumes must address, the hiring managers will get only the resumes of those candidates who are likely to do the job well.

      • Here’s a way. Not perfect, but a way to guarantee that some assessment is done before a knee-jerk habitual interview is brought into play.

        Context. Large R&D organization, multi-Directorates, each with Multi- Departments who need similar people e.g. Software, hardware, QA engineers, project managers.

        Highly competitive market, outside & inside. Inside somewhat a loose knit consortium of warring tribes, including hiring.

        Hot market. High need, Inside rules of engagement: No stealth hiring. The application was to the company, not your department, even if you originated the posting. So if an invitation was extended, everyone had an opportunity to interview.

        So here’s how we handled it.

        1. Blocks of time were put on every calendar of every interested party/hiring managers for a recruiting meeting. Ditto for the meeting room. This eliminated excuses for not engaging due to conflicts.

        2. HR was the annointed faciitator. Each Department had an appointed point person for recruiting for that department, usually one of the hiring managers. They knew who needed what & were trusted to represent themselves and peer hiring managers.

        3. All were provided the week’s incoming applications/resumes before hand. Each department managed how they wanted to deal with people of interest. In my department, the boss wanted the HM (or designate) to call & do a phone screen. I was the point man in my department & I’d follow up & make sure I know of interest & that human contact was made)

        4. In the meeting each resume would be passed around. In theory, we usually didn’t wait for someone to read it, as they already had it, knew it was up for review & were prepared. Each attendee would note their interest in an interview…or not. The facilitator would keep it moving.

        5. Interest in an applicant would range from no interest at all to everyone interested.

        6 Applicants would be so informed by HR. on the positive side, though an applicant applied to a
        particular job, they might find that there were several managers who wanted to talk with them about other jobs..and which ones. They could decline the other jobs up front, but no one did.

        7. Then it was a matter of scheduling the interviews. (non trivial if distance/travel was involved). If you’ve ever had to deal with scheduling multiple people’s availabilities this could be non trivial internally too. But as noted with recruiting meetings, blocks of daily time were plugged into calendars for interviews. So there was no dancing around time conflicts. Every Hiring Manager had time every day.

        8. This protocol was expected to be followed regardless of the source. For example if you drew from your own network…fine. But if they were coming in for an interview everyone had a chance to talk with them.

        9. There was no triage as to which department really should make an offer etc. If there was multiple interest after interviews, the applicant would get multiple offers & they decided.

        This worked well and it worked quickly. & No ghosting. . As I noted earlier, interviews could be very brain frying hectic for both hiring managers and applicants. If interest was very high some applicants may have to visit 2 days.

        When the urgency eased and # of applicants fell to normality, then it went back to business as usual, every dept for itself. Wtih the exception of we point managers keeping in closer touch, walking paper to each other.

  5. Why is the finance manager even involved in the front end of the process at all? This requisition should be pre-approved (from a finance point of view) prior to selection of the candidates. Does the management team even trust each other to select the right candidate? You have to trust someone.

    • @Eddie: They say that identifying the problem is necessary prior to developing a good solution.

      “Does the management team even trust each other to select the right candidate? You have to trust someone.”

      I think you nailed it.

  6. My manager has been wanting to hire another person for my team for quite a while; luckily for job candidates, all the interminable waiting happens before the posting happens. For some reason, in my company, the CEO has to sign off on any new job posting. That seems ludicrous to me. In most ways our HR department is actually pretty good, so they aren’t the obstacle in this case. Seems like a dumb process to me.

    • @Elizabeth: Glad to hear you have a decent HR department. They do exist. And the problem really is on the management team a lot of the time. Your CEO is not the first one I’ve heard about that micro-manages hiring.

  7. This exact scenario is what is driving me crazy. I applied for a graphic design job at the end of April at my alma mater; an amazing occurrence, since these jobs are as rare as hen’s teeth and there is bound to be a ton of applicants. I have also been working with someone in the university’s career services department and he has given me some very helpful tips as to how to keep my application front and center, primarily using LinkedIn.

    Still, I am perplexed as to the time it is taking to sort through everyone. The career services guy tells me that academia moves at a glacial pace when it comes to hiring, more so than in the corporate world. It’s been two months, though, and patience is not my strong suit when it comes to this. Just tell me yes or no so I can continue to apply to other jobs. I hate being strung along, if that’s what this is. It sure seems that way.

    • You should have/could have had another offer/position by now.

      • Yes, that is it exactly. It probably doesn’t help that I would really love to work there, but I have to be realistic and can’t get caught up in that kind of thinking.

    • You should continue to apply to other jobs, you might find an even better version of what you are hoping for with the university.

      • I have been doing just that, although as I mentioned, I’d really love to work at the university.

    • @Liz: The best advice I can give you about your job search is, once you’ve interviewed with one employer, let it simmer and move on to the next. The reason there’s a ton of applicants is that the employer is soliciting a ton of applicants — then has to sort them. Employers create their own problem.

      • Thanks, Nick! Your advice is always solid. Much appreciated.

  8. My experiences in this is simple. It comes down to finances. Every time there is a but even a small but. People would say but is the process. Someone has to “do something with something” oh $$$$. The hiring manager has to set realistic expectation up front. Candidates would appreciate this much more even if the candidate still chooses to find employment else where.

  9. Somewhat related to this is a timely post on LinkedIn:

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mike-t-conley_jobhunt2021-leadership-servantleadership-activity-6812003946253705217-VF5t/

    Waste a lot of time interviewing, and people will end up going elsewhere.

    • @Chris: Great link! I added my two bits to the thousands of comments already there. We oughta start the “Fire the Interviewer Club.”

  10. Only three weeks to make an offer? Wow, compared to a few years ago, that is record time. Kidding aside (sort of), companies that made actual offers to me (not just lip service) got it done in a few days. Including a letter of commitment. I’m not at all surprised at the 42 day average hire time. Even as far back as the mid 1990’s companies often dragged interviewing out for weeks on end. With no feedback whatever. So of course a wise candidate didn’t wait around for an offer that likely wouldn’t happen. It wasn’t unusual for companies to run ads month after month trying to get the perfect candidate. Which stems from a decades long mindset that there is a surfeit of candidates dying to work for your company, and that offering a job does the candidate a favor. I recall reading several decades ago it took about seven interviews to land an offer. But that the 2008 bust doubled or tripled that. Companies have been stuck in an entitlement mindset for so long I suspect most will be unable to break out of it.

    • @Stevie: I’ve placed people in $40K jobs where the hiring manager called me to make an offer before the candidate had a chance to call me to tell me how the meeting went.

      I’ve had clients make 6-figure offers after talking to just one candidate.

      In both cases, I think it happens because I’ve prepped the hiring manager about what to expect, and I made sure I knew exactly what the manager wanted in a candidate. I also established with the candidate and the manager what my expectations were. I’m not scheduling loads of interviews with loads of people. Help me to help you. Let’s make the match before you meet.

      I’m not genius and this isn’t magic. You don’t go into a business deal without all your homework and preparation being done in advance. Yet job applicants and employers alike do it routinely as a matter of policy.

  11. Nick’s point that hiring is a #1 priority is the crux of the writer’s problem. In the writer’s company, exemplified by the letter, it’s obviously not.

    The dots between the word “rush” and 3 weeks don’t connect. Never mind HR, the point is the writer doesn’t seem to get it. And 2 weeks in HR is underwhelming too. But if the Hiring manager(s) don’t care, why should they?

    When hiring really is a #1 priority, the executives are involved, but not to sign off. But to make clear to all interested parties it IS a top priority, that hiring results are being tracked, and managers will be held accountable..for example in compensation.

    I don’t mean indirectly in that failure to produce results for which you’ll get your head handed to you in a bag or a pink slip, but hiring per se, in it’s own right.

    Add complacency to this & it’s toxic. A big contributor to complacency is when jobs are scarce, you see companies get extremely picky, taking their good old time, demonstrating an attitude that they are doing you a favor to hire you.

    This instills a bad habit which seems to stick in some companies. as such, they haven’t a clue as to hire “in a rush”, nor can even relate to a concept like #1 priority.

    I’ve lived in both worlds of scarcity of jobs, and scarcity of talent. And I’ve had a couple of experiences where hiring was rushed because it needed to be rushed.

    You know what that looks like?
    3 weeks? how about a day! Inclusive of HR so forget about 2 weeks. In a couple of cases an offer was extended before the person left the building.

    Waiting on a signature because some key person’s out? BS to that. What is it they don’t understand about delegation?

    Rush! Interview teams & You the manager, do this day after day until your brains are fried.

    Rush means have your ducks lined up before the person walks in the door. The admin stuff’s done up front. Finance signoff? Only if it’s a finance job. You don’t talk to people about a job unless the $ been OK’d…and all OK’s taken care of.

    Rush means you confidently take risks. Yes haste makes waste. You will make mistakes. The won’t be as bad as taking 3 weeks to interview. But you get better and better about assessing potential, which is in my view the heart of a good hire as it covers future need as well.

    Rush means You the Hiring Manager own this. You follow up with a vengeance. As Nick noted..If it’s really important to you, walk the walk not just talk the talk. You know where the people live that have the hands that sign stuff. Hunt them down, stick a pen in their hand if you have to.

    Rush means it can be equally hectic for candidates. The pace is so fast their brains can fry along with yours. You make every effort to make it as pleasant as possible. But you aren’t going to offend a candidate because you move quickly, decide quickly and respond to them quickly.

    What does #1 Priority look like? I was in a massive recruiting effort where the VPs told Directors quote “Hiring is your #1 priority, treat it as if it was a new product” (the dots connect between Product and bonus) Progress was the 1st item on weekly status meetings, backed up with spreadsheets, where each Director was grilled on their progress. If you weren’t producing, you’d lose reqs to a peer who was getting results. It can tell you it worked great! This was backed by $ to do.

    Directors with a brain, then delegated one of their managers to manager their hiring and rode herd on them. I did this for my Director. We did not crap around. I in turn hired a temp to do what usually was done by HR. We contacted applicants, made all the arrangements for a visit, grabbed blocks of manager’s times for interviews, etc. If we so much as thought a candidate was interesting and a relo may result, I’d fly in significant others up front. No questions asked. As noted, when they came in, all company interested parties spoke to them that day. If for some reason we ran out of time or some such, we’d continue the next day. that was rare. This is what hiring in a rush, when hiring is truly top priority looks like.

    #1 priority means you never get complacent. You always hire as if there’s a shortage of candidates & you need to rush. You work with the candidate as to THEIR best time, and you get back to them ASAP. In so doing you respect their time.

  12. Years ago, I worked for a small local division of a domestic steel mill that was then in the throes of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. To say this place was toxic is an understatement. I spent two years of my life there, and that’s not two years I’ll ever get back either. One Friday afternoon right before Christmas, they announced to their skeleton crew that “if you still want a job with this company, you’ll have to report to the mill’s HQ in Wheeling, West Virginia the following Monday morning” (Wheeling was over 800 miles away from Kansas City). Sure enough, they then shut off the lights, locked the doors, and walked away.
    I spent the next 5 months drawing my UI benefits and pounding the pavement looking for a job.
    I answered a classified ad in my local newspaper for my current employer’s competitor. 2 weeks later I received a call inviting me for a phone interview. The next day I was invited to a sit down face-face interview. Over the next 6 weeks, I repeated this scenario 7 more times, interviewing with everyone from the janitor to the CEO. Normally, I walk away after round #2, but I was desperate for a job and insurance. One day I called the guy (who ended up being my boss) and flat out asked him “ I’ve been through 9 interviews with your company now, are you going to hire me or not”? I was offered a job (at 30% less wages than my previous job), and I accepted it because I was in a world of hurt by then. I’d never capitulate like this again. That was back in 2004, and I’ve seen what it’s evolved into today.
    This jumping through hoops, time wasting multiple interviews over weeks and even months, then being ghosted, or passed over for another candidate who’s often unqualified. Sure, that’s how life is, but I don’t have to be part of someone’s aberrant conduct.
    I’ve seen first hand where these employers are so fearful of hiring the wrong candidate, or some perceived possible litigation at the drop of a pin, that they just don’t hire anyone.
    Whatever happened to good old fashioned “step up to the plate, take ownership of your job, and trust your gut”??

  13. True story about why companies should move quickly:

    Some time ago, I started looking for a new job. I interviewed with a company that really dragged it out. First I had a phone screen with their retained recruiter…..then I went in for a one-on-one with the recruiter. Then I had a phone screen with the hiring manager. Then I had an on-site with them. Then I had a second on-site with them. It was about a week to week and half between each iteration. Also, after each interview there was a low energy response. No “yeah, we’re really interested!” Just a meh response that I would be moving on to the next step.

    Sometime between those last two interviews, they asked for me to be ready to provide references. So I started contacting my references just to give them the heads up and make sure I had current contact info so I could provide it quickly.

    Well, one of my references obviously became aware I was looking and asked if I’d like to work with him. (I’d actually worked with him before.) So I started that process.

    The other company then asked me to travel to their world HQ (which would have required me burning 2-3 days of vacation because they would not meet outside of the work week with me) for a final interview. Mind you, since this would have been the big wigs in another country, it was one of those formality things to make sure I could chew gum and walk at the same time. That was going to take a couple weeks to schedule.

    In the meantime, I had a couple interviews with my reference and his higher-ups. Got the offer and took it.

    Obviously the reference knew me so there was “less risk” but if he had dragged it out as long as the other company had, I might have already taken that offer. Their low energy responses certainly didn’t make me think taking the time to fly to HQ for what should have been a formality would have been a slam dunk.

    Years later, I still see that same job being advertised here and there.

    • @Chris: You seem to imply that your being hired by people who knew you was some kind of aberation. It’s actually the norm. Nice work!

  14. I disagree with the premise of the headline. It isn’t managers who are taking so long, it is HR.

    HR doesn’t like the choice. It doesn’t matter to them who gets hired or whether those people are qualified or not, or even if the manager wants to hire them or not. HR wants to drive the salary structure down, and that means driving good candidates (who want to get paid for being good) away. Delaying and deferring is one way to do that.

    This also explains the proliferation of contract/temp jobs. Managers don’t want to deal with HR’s obstruction, it is much easier and quicker to go around HR and get a contractor.

    • @Brian: I intended the title as a backhanded slap to managers who let HR control hiring. In the end, though, the managers are who accepts HR’s lack of urgency. Good managers do indeed “go around!”

  15. In my area, there are employers who claim they’re hiring, that they’ve got vacancies and that the problem is people/prospective employees–they’re screaming that “no one wants to work”, that people are “too lazy”.

    Well, one of those employers, despite the big signs proclaiming “We’re hiring”, refused to talk to me or even to schedule 10 minutes to talk at his convenience (I get it that now may not be the best time), and pushed me to apply online. Out of curiosity, I went online and looked, and stopped looking after 17 pages, REQUIREMENTS to provide all kinds of information before either of us knows whether there is any mutual interest. I concluded that this employer is not serious about hiring. If he were, he’d take 10 minutes to chat with those who come in or call to express an interest. If he were, he’d dump the onerous online application and wouldn’t tell people to apply online and then wait if he’s interested.

    With this week’s Q&A, although the hiring manager stated he was in a hurry to hire, either his definition of “hurry” is different from mine (and from the candidate he wanted to hire) or he has little control over hiring.

    I’ve worked in places in which a big muckety-muck has to sign off on things; if the muckety-muck doesn’t have issues with delegation, then he will delegate signatory power to an underling or even a boss while he’s on vacation, just to ensure that things continue to run smoothly while he’s away. If he’s got control issues, or perhaps that is part of the company culture (no one delegates), then the delay will cost them good candidates and cause other problems. Wasn’t the hiring manager aware that this person would be going on vacation? Why didn’t he ask the VP of Finance to sign off on the paperwork BEFORE going on vacation? That’s what I used to do when I worked at a large state university–get the paperwork done beforehand, and signed off by those who were required to sign it BEFORE they went on vacations, on trips, to conferences, etc., because those delays could really cause big problems. It worked if the deans and dept. chairs, and directors were okay with it and knew me well enough to know that I wasn’t having them sign something nefarious or illegal. But I did have a boss who refused to sign and refused to delegate, and often didn’t communicate when she was going to be away (vacations, working remotely, conferences, etc.) and then things fell apart. It got so bad that the dean had to demand that she delegate signatory authority to someone else whenever she was going to be away, and then that meant extra paperwork (memos to other depts. so if paperwork arrived without her signature, they knew that the paperwork was still kosher because she had delegated signatory authority while she was away).

    I don’t know why this couldn’t have been done with VP of Finance–it surely can’t be that complicated (and if a large state university with the world’s biggest bureaucracy can figure it out, so can private corporations).

    When I hear “yes, we’re hiring but you have to apply online and wait for HR”, I walk away. That tells me the employer isn’t really interested in hiring. If he were, and if he truly has the authority to hire, then there wouldn’t be so many roadblocks.

    IMHO, HR shouldn’t be involved until it is time for the successful candidate to fill out the paperwork for onboarding, so she can get paid in a timely manner, so the necessary taxes can be deducted and the benefits accrue correctly.

  16. It probably has something to do also with the size of the organiszation.

    I work for a small oil company of 13 people. How I got the job: Sent an email with a cover letter and resume to the COO on a Monday. he called back on Tuesday. Interview on Thursday. Second interview on Monday. Offer on Tuesday.

    For my previous job, I simply called one of the managers, whom I knew from before. The company had offices in several cities, and because there was no big hurry, we waited until one day he was in the office in my town, and just had a talk. A couple of weeks later, the HR reps were there, and I popped by for another talk. Offer soon after. No bureaucracy or internet applications, just business talk.

    In the other end, for my PhD position at university, the application deadline was late August, with lots of documentation of my academic grades and publications demanded. Then the applications had to go to the department board for evaluation, and to the faculty board, and then the process was repeated with the recommendations. Finally, HR and the university administration had to sign off. I had been cooperating with the professor on the project already for a while, so he called me in October to tell I would get the position (clearly best qualified of three candidates – yes, it took long time to sort out three applicants!) so I could just start preparing the work and relocation. Started working in December – but was not formally employed until January!

    • Could be due to the years making things harder, but when I was hired by a Univ for non-academic research engineer position (but still requiring an annual contract signed by the governor of all people) the whole process began with a phone call from a former office mate at the school when were in grad school together. I sent a resume to the Associate Director of the research organization and was hired within about two weeks and was there for nine years. Easily the easiest hiring process I’ve ever gone through. That sort of thing will spoil ya. In the business world of today, I’m likely to wait a couple of weeks before I’ll hear from a potential employer about what day I was to come in for the in-person interview following a phone screen. In one case, while waiting for such a call, I heard on the evening news that the company I’d interviewed with announced layoffs—centering on the site where I would have been working. Three guesses as to whether I got the call to come in for *that* onsite interview.

      • My personal record is that I still wait for the second interview a big oil services company hinted towards in 2001! :)

      • @Rick: The anomaly is the months-long hiring process. How we got to accepting a one-week turnaround as “normal” is what’s puzzling.

  17. Nick, I am Growling — What is the ‘Real’ Intention behind the Complacency of Hiring?

    Can I draw the conclusion that corporate executives and graduates (of SHRM) are Narcissists that Intentionally Corrupt the Well Being of ALL Job Seekers? Sharing my reference https://narcsite.com/2021/06/06/the-narcissist-corrupts-the-listener-4/

    Every (job) candidate’s Grief is additionally compounded by the twisted media narratives that ‘poor me’ employers cannot find suitable candidates and candidates prefer to be subsidized by the county, state & federal. The media is feeding ‘false promises’ of monthly stimulus checks or basic income yet not revealing the real need to increase Salaries or Wages to align with the increased cost of basic necessities especially housing and food.

    Ugh, thus one of the many reasons for the alarming increase in mental health that affects the family structure.

    Thank you for listening.

    PS: The Post Pandemic 2021 Journey has just begun! A Gentle Reminder, Covid Virus is an Airborne Virus that attacks the Respiratory System. Please listen to your intuition when to wear a mask while navigating in public spaces; Hospital ER or ICU or any hospitalization are not glamourous environments as the media portrays and neither is the Funeral parlor which costs more than $7,000 (per person)!

    Be Safe Everyone.

    • @Bernadette Ferrer,
      Good to see your posts again.
      My late father was a WWII era man, and a hardworking journeyman machinist who provided for his family without complaint. He was also a deeply pious and religious man. I never heard him curse in his life, except once, when he shared his account of working with HR people on recruiting for machinist apprentices. He referred to HR as “frustrated psychologists”. He really had little time for HR, and I share his sentiments as well.
      A guy named Aaron Clarey has a site called “Captain Capitalism”, and another one called “A—Hole Consulting”, where he dishes out hard boiled advice to mostly confused and ill advised young men. He has a gritty YouTube video called “The HR Ditz”. He curses like a dockworker, and I’m not endorsing him, just saying he presents a gritty, forthright, and factual analysis of HR.
      I refuse to deal with HR anymore. I immediately tell them “I’ll be happy to talk to the Hiring Manager or decision maker, not HR”. 9 times out of 10 they get triggered, and get their undies in a bunch, and I’m immediately dismissed, or ghosted. It is what it is.

      • My father was a WWII vet as well. US Navy during the Philippines Campaign. Got out, went to college, wound up working in heavy industry. After that, the state of Wisconsin.

        Always told me that before there was HR, there was “Salary and Benefits”. They had two jobs: 1) Make sure that the pay envelopes were correctly filled on Friday and 2) make sure that the insurance was paid up in case you needed it.

        ALways said things moved much smoother back then.

        • There also seemed to be some modicum of honor with a lot of these guys from that era (I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know). There were employers my father, and other men in my family, worked for (i.e. Honeywell, 3M, US Steel) back in the day that treated their employees with some semblance of civility and honor. Sure, there were jerks and toxicity, and part of my late father’s career, he was in the United Steel Workers (which actually wasn’t/isn’t that bad of a union, as unions go, IMO), so he had some protection. As he told, if a guy made it through the first 10 years, and did nothing egregious, nor committed gross misconduct, he was mostly set for lifetime employment. Prior to his death in 2009, he started to see a change in employers, and the underhanded dirty deeds happening to friends and family. He went from the old school “take care of your job and it will take care of you” to “take care of yourself”.

  18. My fastest offer ever came the day after a twenty minute talk with the hiring manager, where we spent most of the time chatting about completely unrelated topics. In the end, I did not take the job for other reasons, but it was fun – although it shows that interviews also can get too casual and too little rigorous.

    I have really no problem with companies wanting candidates to talk to managers, HR, top brass and possible colleagues. After all, ATH suggests candidates should evaluate companies thoroughly as well. But they should make sure it happens within a quick time frame, and that the process is clearly laid out from start, not “can you come for yet another interview” after a month of silence.

  19. They have to bring you back for the tenth interview because they found a whole bunch of stupid interview questions about what kind of tree you would be, or how you handle conflict, or what’s your greatest weakness, or what superpowers you would have if you could become a superhero.

    • @ARF,
      Exactly!
      I sometimes wonder if HR folks need to justify their jobs (see fewer of them out there today, and that’s a good thing IMO), are lonely, or just plain don’t have anything better to do with their time than make candidates experiences negative. Or they get off on the power trip of “I’m here, and you’re there”.
      If a merchant, say a retail store, treated you, I, and others this way, I’m sure we’d never darken their doors again. I know of companies that have trouble hiring, and are boycotted by candidates, because of their HR departments.

    • Nobody in HR gets paid for filling jobs with people who work out well. They get paid for processing. To change the Employment System we’d have to change how HR is paid. It’s really no different from Sales.

  20. I interviewed in 2014 with two different companies. At the first, I was told that they were interviewing other candidates and would get back to me in about 3 weeks. At the second, I interviewed on Thursday, got an email from the hiring manager on Monday, indicating an offer was in process. It took another week to get the offer, but the manager kept me informed about what was going on in the process.

    When I got the offer, it had been more than 3 weeks since I had last heard from Company #1, so I called and left a message with the hiring manager, telling them that I had another offer and asking if they were still interested. The response I got was from someone in HR, telling me that they would be putting an offer together for me, which I got a few days later. I never actually heard another word from the hiring manager himself, only from the HR guy.

    Guess which offer I accepted?

    • One other item in my interactions with Company #2: When I got the call on Monday from the hiring manager, he gave me preliminary information on what the offer was going to entail when it did come through.

  21. “HR FOLLIES”

    It would seem the only people who benefit from these Keystone Cops/Three Stooges escapades are beginner recruiters for whom Nick’s column is required reading.

  22. HR HR HR. I feel sometimes I’m watching the Brady Bunch.

    I was not an HR person…I was a hiring manager. Closest I got to being in HR was as a recruiter because Management knee jerks sticking recruiters in HR.

    Not counting the candidate there’s 3 key organizations involved in recruiting, Hiring Managers, HR, The executive “team”.

    There are endless permutations and combinations of goodness, effectiveness, energy, concern etc you can find inside these group. Ideally they work together like a well oiled machine to get the right people, at the right time, in the right place in a timely manner. Ideally.

    Points to keep in mind, from decades of personal experience.
    1. HR does not hire anyone except their own.

    2. HR does not write the descriptions. Except their own. Not qualified to do so.

    3. HR usually, but not always, makes formal job offers. But only when a Hiring Manager pulls the trigger.

    4. HR usually keeps and manages the metrics, if any are generated. If there is an ATS in play, believe me they get plenty of metrics

    Hiring Managers hire. That’s why they call us hiring managers. They cannot delegate accountability, choice, to HR, to their bosses, to anyone. They own it.

    5. The executive team sets the priority, provides the funds, and monitors performance.. or not.

    If you are experiencing some FUBAR scenario as to #’s of
    interviews, crappy timing, being ghosted, etc it is highly probable you are experiencing a disconnect on the part of even one of these groups.

    But it’s most toxic when they all are complacent and it sounds very much like the writer’s world.

    Here’s some real life situations from behind the scenes.

    You applied, sent the usual material & hear nothing. It goes to an HR recruiter, who spots potential, and knows the HM well enough to know it’s spot on, and sends it right over. …and vegetates. Or if an ATS is in play they’re usually programmed to send the resume directly to the applicable HM. And HR on your end You hear nothing, curse HR who is in reality running interference for you daily by playing a Didja game with the HM. Didja read that resume I sent? No. repeat, repeat. Finally yes. Are you going to contact the person..Yes. Didja contact that person? No, repeat repeat repeat. Going to set up an interview Yes. Didja etc etc. IF the HM pulls the trigger HR can do the grunt work. But the trigger needs to be pulled. In the meantime your clocking days and weeks in between Didjas.
    Never assume your holy grail is a HM, it very well may be HR

    And yes it can be reversed. The HM is on it like a duck on a bug. And it becomes HM to HR. Didja get that offer out? Not yet… repeat repeat..but with the right HM, only to a point. Do I have to write it myself? do I have to send it out myself.

    I worked for a company, my last job, that established an SOP that said the HM was to make the offer, verbally than in writing. HR only worried about comp approvals adn letter content (to avoid non compliant wording & such). An ATS was deployed which was directed to drop applicable resumes straight to HMs. They were expected to run with it. Some did, some didn’t. Then HR would put their nagging hat on to expedite, if doable

    Metrics can be very useful if they are generated, but really only if they are looked at and used. Absence of them usually means the executive team doesn’t give a hoot about recruiting. At that level a frequent mindset is to view recruiting as an admin function. And they behave accordingly and so does everyone else.

    It’s always a changing market & situation(s). You can’t sit back and assume your SOP, your process will take care of itself. there will be exceptions to deal with..quickly…pay, relo, benefits. A HM may find some that needs out of policy pay for instance. And in the HM’s view, well worth it. They can drive for that exception, but others need to move their ass, and make a decision.

    Another scenario. Indecisiveness. The writer’s CFO kicking back out of pocket? That’s bad enough, but how about some decision maker who is in the office who just can’t make a decision in a timely manner. You’re outside looking in waving your cursor trying to get an answer. So is the HM, so is HR. We tell you the offer is in the works..really. but truncate the end of the sentence that says, but it’s getting moldy in some a…hole’s inbox.

    And sorry to say, the indecisive person is frequently the HM.

    In my experience, things can move along well when there is good teamwork between the HM & HR. People that know and trust each other. The HR recruiter is inside the head of the HM to quickly spot people of interest, who can handle a lot of the grunt work (e.g scheduling an interview) and a HM who knows what HR needs to put an offer in play and how to help grease the skids.

    • Don,

      Correctly diagrammed but really, you haven’t said anything we (applicants, recruits, [external] recruiters) don’t already know. In fact, applicant/recruit victims are almost expert in understanding and recognizing where the gaps and failures exist in the hiring ‘process’.

      As things exist, applicants/recruits have not much choice but to follow their nose until they see they have encountered a[nother] broken system. So they not only have to wonder if they will be hired, they also have to hope the company to which they are applying is a Best Practices employer. And even then, there is no guarantee their having applied/been presented will get them where they want to go.

      It’s ironic that a Six Sigma company, for example, can achieve a 98%/99% yield when manufacturing widgets, aerospace parts, drugs, etc. but that same rigor does not, too often, apply to the HR, HA, Applicant/Recruit equation. There are controls in place to ensure a quality product but no controls to be sure Best Choice Hires don’t fall between the cracks and are abandoned to complacency and indifference.

      Not every time but Way Too Often.

      There is no ISO for HR.

      Identifying the ‘best’ employers is an obvious way to go but even they contain opportunities for failure. And the other 80%? Until a sense of Duty and Discipline permeates that soup, it is basically hopeless which means the only solution at the individual level is to apply to multiple companies (like betting on three different horses in the same race) and/or utilizing external recruiters who are trained to use disruptive practices to establish position, create momentum and follow-through and lastly, completion. (Not so fast! What about our practice of presenting three qualified candidates, you being one of them?? Even our practices contain opportunities for ‘failure’ if you are not the one of the three being hired. We got our fee and you did not get hired. Unless the HH presented you three times, like s/he was supposed to do. Lots of maybe’s. The game is rigged even when we promise to unrig it for you…

      Or the times we convince an HR Manager to skip that stack of resumes and see our candidates, instead. Happens all the times. Hah, nothing is guaranteed…)

      And for those who are not ‘recruitment fee’ worthy, well, you pay your money and you take your chances.

      Such folly just cannot be explained away. No common sense of Purpose and lots of rabbit holes…

      • So,

        From this, who do you Trust?

        Trust the Search Consultant, the Headhunter. Because that person Wants To Get Paid. The HA gets paid whether you get hired or not, the HR Mgr gets paid whether you get hired or not but the HH doesn’t get paid unless you get hired and boy, does s/he want her/his money!

        Why do you think we’re in business? No, it’s not to ‘make marriages’ as the Millennial recruiters would have you believe, it’s not to huggle or smuggle our candidates/clients (why do you think there is a chart on the wall where they work, showing ‘highest biller’ each month? It doesn’t chart ‘marriages’, it doesn’t chart hugs, it charts fees brought in).

        Yes, you will be accompanied by two similarly qualified recruits if that HH is doing their job but so what? You have competitors in that stack on that HR Mgr’s/HA’s desk anyway. Better to be shepherded through the process by someone who is highly motivated to get you interviewed and hired than apply online and hope you hit the hiring lottery.

        Hint: if you probe and the HH representing you lets on they are presenting two more candidates, ask the HH what your UVP is compared to the other two. Leverage what you have. All things being equal…the HH will tell you since they won’t care…in many cases… which of you gets hired so long as one of you gets hired….in some we know who is the Best Choice and we tilt the table accordingly…sorry, nothing personal, don’t complain, you got interviewed which is more than would have happened had you left it up to the ATS…. So ask.

        At the very least, do as Nick says, do what we do: speak directly to the HA and make a case as to why that person should agree to meet you that afternoon.

        • @Paul: When I do a speaking gig, I’m sometimes asked, why should we listen to you and not the other career experts? My answer is simple, and it echoes what you said.

          “Everybody in the hiring process gets paid whether you get hired or not — except me. The headhunter gets paid only when a hire is made. If I don’t fill jobs, I don’t eat. So my methods have to work.”

          Follow the money.

          • It is a matter of having two different standards for performance.

            HR and HA’s take ‘as long as necessary’ what-ever that means whereas in our practice, it’s more like “get it done now!”

            HR and HA’s are bound by their own lack of momentum and we on the other hand break the cycle of mediocrity by catalyzing results.

        • @Paul Forel-
          “Make marriages, as the millennial recruiters tell you”….lol! I was told a few years back at my current job to “watch the inflection of my voice” because it traumatized the millennials there (most of whom are now long gone).
          In my experience, the few times I’ve personally dealt with Headhunters in my area, they never appeared to hustle, be too hungry, nor ever broke a sweat.
          From your description of making money, being hungry, and billing out business, your services sound like any profit making business out there.
          So what’s the gig with my local Headhunters do you suppose? Donut dunkers? Amateurs? Lightweights?
          I’m in a job search now, and actually would like to partner with a decent recruiter for my area. Even with personal referrals, there’s plenty of ghosting from the local Headhunter

          • @Antonio. So the inflection of your voice scared the children and stampeded management. Speak quietly and carry a big resume.

            • @Don… lol. Solid advice, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

            • @Don-
              Hey Don, here’s one for you that I think you’ll appreciate. I have an account who’s a large cement preform yard. The Yard Manager I deal with showed his millennial employees on a tape how to measure in 6” x 6” from the corner of preforms to install lifting eyes. Said millennials measured in 16” x 18”. The cement cured, and all the preforms had to be scraped. The Yard Manager (who’s a pretty even-tempered guy) asked them why they did this. They got triggered and ran to HR saying that his voice traumatized them. He’s tried to terminate several for attendance and punctuality issues, but they won’t let him until every means of progressive discipline has been exhausted. He has to counsel them by saying “how can we help you come to work, and come to work on time”? Lol

          • Hey, Mr. Z, howya been?

            Different HH’s have different styles, just like anything else.

            The only thing that matters is results.

            Nick has suggested ways to screen recruiters for competence, others who have posted here have offered rules of thumb that works for them and I have posted here, pointing out that even beginners get viable search assignments and ought not be turned away just because they sound clumsy, etc.

            So as to your question, there’s no way to know, we can only guess and keep in mind that the only thing that matters is ‘have they gotten you interviews that are consistent with your intent?’.

            • @Paul Forel,
              Been good. Thanks.
              One thing I’ve maybe been remiss on is asking Headhunters for references, or asking for verifiable results. I’ve been run through the ringer, and been asked to jump through hoops from the get go. Think I’ll ask this to separate the “wheat from the chaff” or “the sheep from the goats” in the future.

  23. Yep, Yep, Yep. Exactly Right.

  24. Some really weird stuff is going on right now. I work as a Lead IT Support Tech and have been doing it for 15 years now and I do have an MBA.

    I applied for an IT Help Desk Manager position at a local mental health hospital. I did not hear back from them for 2 weeks then I was called for an interview with an HR rep. 2 weeks later they contact me again and I tell them I had been rehired by the aerospace company I used to work for. 2.5 months later they call me back and tell me they are still interested in me and want a phone interview so I say ok. A week later the CFO calls me and we talk for 45 minutes. About half the time he is telling me how terrible the job is. That was 2 weeks ago and I have not heard anything back from them.

    6 months ago I applied for a Lead Help Desk Tech position at our local Medical Center. This is a job I have extensive experience in performing. I have always been highly rated in performance reviews. I have applied a couple times and I can’t even get an responce from them. They are still posting for this position 6 months later. I know nurses and doctors who work there and they say the IT support is pretty bad.

  25. Current role:

    Recruiter set me up with an interview on Friday. An offer on Monday.

    The only delays were drug screen and confirmation of work background.

    It was two weeks from first interview to taking a seat. The reason was that the company always starts new people on Monday. The entire process (including interviews) was 7 business days.

    Almost as if “if we want this guy, somebody else does too.”

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