Punctuality in Recruitment


December 19, 2016

Sam Spall, Payments & Cards Network

Interviewed by: Layla Durrani, Payments & Cards Network

As always, the goal of this column is to offer a friendly resource to others working in the payments industry. Today I'm talking about the timeliness in the recruitment process. This is of course not based on any company in particular and nor is it targeting anyone -- it's just my thoughts on best practices and how to make things run as smoothly as possible for clients and candidates.

If you're a company that's recruiting, chances are you've gone through several steps. You've discussed the position with hiring managers -- of course explored easier solutions than pursuing a full-on hiring process -- and most likely already posted the job advert through various channels online. The key question here is do you really need this person? What would happen in 6 months if this person wasn't aboard? Would there be a big strain on operations?

It is always important to remember that recruitment can often take some time -- the time it takes to review CVs, the time it takes to conduct interviews (how many?), the time for negotiation at the offer stage and the time it takes to on-board. Processes can take weeks, months and even years. That's potentially a great amount of time not fulfilling other deliverables. So what makes for a strong, concise and pleasant process? You would have thought because I am an agent that the answer would be speed, but this is not the case. In my books, it is punctuality.

Whether an agency is involved or not, it's very important to stick to the time process. Recruitment acts as a marketing tool -- your company brand is going to be seen all over the internet or if you work with an agency, then your name is going to be mentioned very often. So let's say you get these candidates to apply and you say you're going to give feedback in 3 days. But what if it takes 2 weeks? Imagine if there's an interview and you say feedback is in one week and you are delaying the feedback by a further week.

What is the effect? Generally there begins to brew a negative association with the brand: a candidate's opinion of the company can be lowered or they start asking, "is this position serious, I thought it was?" If you use an agency, then yes of course we can manage expectations and to some extent control the emotions.

However, the amount of candidates I've heard from, who never hear back from companies or agencies is astonishingly large and I do believe it isn't good practice because these candidates (and clients) are investing so much time into the application process. It might be travel plans, discussions with their families, getting ready to move, preparing for interviews etc.

In the world of payments, clich├ęd as it sounds, it's a super tight-knit community. A couple of delays are sometimes to be expected but it is best to limit as candidates naturally become frustrated. Imagine who those candidates know (whatever the calibre of candidate), and you never know who they could be talking to about your company, even a long time after the process ends.

I have a very good example of a process, which happens to have an agency involved. I was working with a client who had quite some time between next steps/feedback, even though they had expressed great interest in a candidate. Following the first interview they said it'd be two weeks till feedback re: the next interview or not. To which my initial thought was: that's quite a bit of time, with a great candidate we hope it'd quicker. I did trust my client though and I knew they meant it and I told the candidate that it'd be a 2 week wait. We waited 2 weeks and they said they wanted to invite the candidate to the next round. The candidate did the interview and they said the next feedback would be another week. The following week the feedback arrived, like clockwork. The next stage was a final talk and then an offer was to be made. The offer was accepted and there was (and still is) delight all around. The bottom line is that everything was done as it was proposed. You as a company gain so much credibility by sticking to the process. The client and candidate knew where they stood.

When you have feedback that takes longer it is harder to keep candidates even if the feedback is days after the agreed time. Now I don't mind this, as it is my job to assist, but the brand image must always be taken into account when delaying recruitment processes. Imagine your best candidate leaving the process to a competitor and obtaining huge results in years to come with that competitor. Bottom line is, people want to be kept in the loop. It builds momentum, excitement and trust. Even if there was a 6 month process with feedback every two months, that's good to know rather than a 3 month process that slowly turns into a 6 month process. Imagine you lose a candidate because of this, can you imagine starting the recruitment process all over again?