Are employers chickening out when it comes to hiring?
It’s a fair question, in light of new data showing that U.S. employers take 22.9 days on average to decide whether to hire somebody these days, compared with 12.6 days in 2010. The figures, derived from survey data compiled by job search network Glassdoor Inc., measure the amount of time it took for employers either to give applicants an offer or let them know they’d been rejected.
What could be going on here? Well, one thing that probably isn’t happening is that employers are spoiled for choice. According to the Department of Labor, there are just 1.6 unemployed people for each open job now, down from almost 7 in 2009 at the height of the most recent recession and down as well from 1.8 in 2007 at the start of the recession.
Screen after screen
Instead, the folks at Glassdoor put the finger on the multiplicity of screens that employers feel obliged to carry out these days before they bring somebody on. These include everything from drug tests to IQ and personality tests to criminal and credit background checks.
The biggest chewers of time, though, according to Glassdoor, are group panel interviews and phone interviews. These can add anywhere from six to 8 days, respectively, to the applicant assessment process.
Glassdoor said it’s possible the lengthier hiring times have something to do with the ongoing transition of the U.S. economy from manufacturing to a technology and professional services base. Employers in the latter sectors are more likely to want to sound out applicants for such hard-to-measure qualities as judgment and creativity, drawing out the selection process. Indeed, this idea is borne out by the fact that employers in tech-heavy job markets like Portland, San Jose and Seattle take 2-3 days longer than average to spit out hiring decisions.
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But the job search network also said some of the delays were more likely due to “creeping bureaucracy,” as employers -=- especially large ones — increasingly seek to take every possible risk out of a process that is inherently risky. After all, no matter how thoroughly you investigate a job candidate, you don’t know for sure who you’re going to get until they actually start working.
So by all means, take a good look at people before you hire them. But don’t get caught up in screening for the sake of screening, or merely to cover your hindquarters. Some new hires are always going to flame out, no matter what you do, and the longer you keep good candidates waiting, the greater the chances that they’ll find something else.
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