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Competition for talent is one of the biggest challenges facing Banking and Financial Services organisations today. With top talent in such high demand, it doesn’t pay to have the weeks and months tick away before extending a formal offer.

It has been my experience over the past year that when the hiring process extends into three months or more, the likelihood of candidates’ circumstances changing is higher, and with it, the risk of losing a preferred candidate.

The early bird gets the worm

Transparency from all is key - I work closely with my clients to make them aware when there is a premium candidate who is also interviewing elsewhere.

Just last month, a candidate commenced a new role with a client who managed to lock in their services before the competition.

The candidate had been simultaneously interviewing for senior manager roles with my client and one of the big four banks.

Highlighting the quality of the candidate to my client, and that he was also interviewing elsewhere, he was invited for interview as soon as possible. Highly impressed, the second and third round interviews were set up in quick succession.

The entire process was expedited by our clients’ leadership team, which enabled them to finalise the offer and present it to the candidate three times faster than their standard recruitment process. Subsequently he withdrew his candidature with the bank.

On the flip side

While the above is a best-case scenario with a quick turnaround time, there are two worst-case outcomes of a delayed hiring process:

  • Losing out on your top candidate altogether
  • Spending more than planned to close them

This has been a recurring theme within the Banking and Financial Services sector.

Both scenarios occurred recently with my clients; after a lengthy hiring process that was still ongoing after four months, the sole candidate taken through to the final stages for a leadership role eventually withdrew his candidature to take up a different offer – after a hiring process on the competition’s behalf of less than four weeks.

When a hiring process extends past three months, circumstances can change over that period – a candidate could even be offered a pay rise in their current position before the final offer is extended. There are only two possible results; offer the candidate more to secure them, which is obviously not ideal, or the candidate walks.

The above are just two examples that highlight the importance of closing a role in a timely manner.

These cases happen from time to time, and there often is not any single person or element of the process at fault, but there are adjustments you can make to your hiring process to reduce the rate of occurrences.

3 timely moves to secure top talent

I have identified several key phases of the process which clients with a higher success rate of securing their preferred candidate excel in.

  1. Shorter interview process

When working with clients who lock in superior quality candidates, they are able to turnaround from application to offer within four to six weeks. This is aided by fewer interview rounds, normally two or three. Conversely, some organisations have a standard process of 5-6 rounds of interviews which can extend over months. Conducting interviews with a panel of 2-3 stakeholders at a time can help streamline this process.

  1. Speedy approvals

With numerous stakeholders involved – some travelling all around the world – this can be a difficult step to enact with urgency. Firms that are able to turnaround meeting times within mere hours or days have the edge in securing the talent they are after. Ensuring your stakeholders are contactable at crucial stages such as getting approval on the role itself to be recruited, and approval for the final offer, is vital to maintain momentum. Blocking out tentative appointment times with key leaders in advance will speed up turnaround time between meetings.

  1. Final countdown

Taking two candidates through to the final stages of any hiring process is best practice. When firms go through a multifaceted process with only their preferred candidate, if the prospect falls through, there is no alternate at hand. By advancing two candidates throughout, a second option will ensure there will be no time wasted if one withdraws.

While steps and stakeholders involved in hiring processes can be dictated by stringent protocols, it is possible to fast-track some phases, even when there is a minimum number of interviews and approvals required.

Transparency is key, from the candidate, to myself and the Kelly Executive team, hiring managers and above.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on how time to hire affects your business securing top prospects. Please connect with me on LinkedIn to discuss how you can ensure you close top talent before it disappears.

Sweta Khandelwal headshot Kelly Executive 2017.jpg Author: Sweta Khandelwal is a Senior Consultant with Kelly Executive.