Demystifying the hiring process

It doesn’t matter if someone is a senior leader or hunting for their first job, I hear from my clients how anxious they are through the hiring process. I “decode” emails and communications from hiring managers and recruiters to let them know what is going on behind the scenes because the process is long and arduous with a lot of twists and turns.

Generally, it takes between 60 – 90 days from the time a job is posted to make a hire for that job. Have you ever wondered why the hiring process takes so long?

Here is what a hiring process looks like when it runs 100% smoothly after the recruiter and hiring manager have calibrated on what type of employee the hiring manager is seeking for a job.

  1. A job is posted.

  2. The recruiter or hiring manager will search for potential candidates on LinkedIn to “calibrate” the type of candidate profile and level of experience the hiring manager expects.

  3. The recruiter reviews the first 20-50 applications (or AI delivered applications) and, if it is a high-level role, may do additional sourcing on LinkedIn or through private databases.

  4. The recruiter either screens a few candidates or presents first glance candidates to the hiring manager to determine who to pursue.

  5. The recruiter completes screening interviews to determine which candidates have the right skills and would be a culture fit.

  6. The recruiter and hiring manager meet or exchange emails to discuss what was learned from the screening interviews.

  7. The hiring manager decides if any of the candidates should move to the next round based on the recruiter screen and recruiter recommendations.

  8. The recruiter schedules the hiring manager to meet with one or several candidates over the next few days or weeks.

  9. The hiring manager does a phone screen with the candidate or, if possible, the candidate is brought on site. Sometimes multiple interviewers will be involved in first round interviews.

  10. The hiring manager (plus others if applicable) and recruiter debrief over which, if any, candidates should move forward in the process.

  11. The recruiter schedules the next round interviews.

  12. The hiring manager interviews top candidates on site (if possible) for a second time. Additional interviewers are brought in and/or the candidate is asked to give a presentation.

  13. The recruiter, hiring manager, and anyone else who interviewed the candidate debrief on what they learned and whether the candidate has the right skills for the role and will fit within the culture of the company and the team. (Sometimes, a hiring manager will move to #17)

  14. The hiring manager decides who will move to the next round or if the recruiter should search for new candidates, in which case the process starts over.

  15. Candidates who move forward likely come back for a final round of interviews.

  16. The hiring manager and interviewers debrief.

  17. If a candidate moves toward an offer, the hiring manager or recruiter checks references and may seek backdoor references from mutual acquaintances/colleagues.

  18. The recruiter works with the hiring manager and compensation leaders to determine an appropriate offer and decide who will present it.

  19. The offer is presented verbally to the candidate followed by an offer letter.

  20. Negotiation may ensue.

  21. Anything outside the standard compensation package for the level and title will need approval from senior leaders, potentially including the hiring manager’s boss, finance, and HR.

  22. Once there’s agreement on the compensation package, the candidate is given a small window to sign the offer letter.

  23. The candidate signs and a hire is made.

That is why it takes 60-90 days to make a hire. At any point in the above scenario, the recruiter may need to start the process over with new candidates. Does that mean that silence always means they are working through the process? Yes. Does it mean you are still a viable candidate? No.

Decoding silence

Silence after you’ve done a recruiter screen or an interview with the hiring manager or with a panel of interviewers can mean many things. Every company and every recruiter works differently. Some are life long relationship builders and some just move through hiring as fast as possible, leaving unsuccessful candidates in the dust. Here’s a way to decode what silence may mean:

  1. The recruiter is trying to catch up other candidates to the same place you are at in the process or you are one of those candidates being caught up.

  2. The hiring manager, recruiter and/or interview panel have not had time to debrief on potential candidates to determine who moves forward.

  3. You are not the #1 candidate for the role, but you aren’t “out” of the process yet. You may be #2 or the “back up” candidate because there is a chance #1 won’t accept an offer. Generally, you can figure out if you are #2 when you “check in” with a recruiter and the recruiter writes you back with generic statements like, “No decisions have been made yet” or, “Still waiting on the hiring manager.” This is meant to “keep you warm” but notice, these statements have no detail.

  4. You aren’t in the running anymore, but the recruiter doesn’t want to reject any candidate until a hire is made. This is the most frustrating position to be in because you have no idea what is going on because the recruiter is no longer communicating with you or responding to your “check ins.” When recruiters go dark, it is commonly known as “ghosting.”

  5. There is a confidential change in the company. Whether a hiring manager is fired, the job is being changed based on business needs, the budget is being pulled, the company is going through a restructure – it doesn’t matter what the reason – the job is on hold. In this instance, you could be ghosted or you will see the job disappear. The recruiter should, out of courtesy, let you know what is going on but unfortunately, with a recruiter handling 10-18 jobs at a time, many simply move on.

Keep in mind how recruiters work and that hiring managers have a day job with lots of meetings and deadlines; therefore, hiring is like having a second job they don’t have time for. Hiring managers’ availability alone can create delays in the hiring process. You are NOT their top priority, as much as they wish they could have hired you yesterday and have you start immediately.

In today’s competitive environment, companies may lose out on you if you have other offers. Therefore, always let the recruiter know if you are interviewing at other places (and you should be!), as well as where you are in those hiring processes and whether a particular job is your number one choice. You may be able to influence speeding up the process if you already have an offer in hand. Just remember this three P equation:

Persistence + Patience = Perseverance

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