Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

HR Directors Spend a Month Recruiting for Open Positions

Are you an HR director? Do you spend way too much time recruiting for positions that should have been filled last month? Relax, you’re not alone.

New research from Robert Half UK highlights the lengthy recruitment process some HR directors go through.

HR directors are spending a month (let’s call it February at 27.59 days) on average recruiting for open positions within their organisation, which can result in them losing out on talented candidates who accept jobs from other companies who are able to make hiring decisions more quickly.

Mike Haberman, Consultant and Partner, Omega HR Solutions, Inc:

Recruitment time can best be shortened by having the authority to make a hire reside in a small group that is in constant communication or give one person the authority to make quick hires without the involvement of others. In order to do this the rules of engagement have to be well defined and the definitions of skills needed have to have 100% agreement from those involved. Without that the process will take longer and may result in candidates being lost.

Top level findings

  • HR Directors in the UK spend 27.59 days on average recruiting for open positions within their organisation
  • The challenge to find qualified candidates (59%) and the increase in the number of CVs per job opening (52%) are the main reasons the hiring process is longer than it was three years ago
  • HR Directors risk losing out on qualified candidates to other opportunities because of the length of the recruitment process

Jon Gregory, Founding Director, Firewalk Technology Ltd:

This highly valuable research demonstrates clearly the need for employers to proactively engage with their recruitment consultant to a much deeper level, and not just hand-off the work to them. The top three causes all relate to the quality of candidates applying. Consequently, an employing company needs to put more effort into narrowing the candidate target-spec, focusing ads and selling the role, whilst backing all of that up via their employer-brand reputation.

The recruitment process can be broken down into six key stages, all of which take more than four days, on average to complete when using their own in-house resources to manage. Screening CVs (5.19 days) and interviewing applicants (4.77 days) are the most time intensive aspects, while candidate skills testing (4.18 days) takes the least amount of time.

Kirstie Kelly, Director of Strategic Relationships, Launchpad:

Time to hire has long been an indicator which discerning recruiters measure – and often fail to reduce.  But they can only impact on the stages of the process they influence.  Once a candidate has been presented to the business for interview – the candidate will often be ‘stuck in the pipe’ whilst hiring managers drag their feet to find diary time to progress. In our experience, technology which drives better collaboration, decision making and process efficiency can solve this challenge.

Average amount of time spent when hiring for an open position


Recruitment step Average amount of time spent when hiring for an open position (days)
Screening CVS of all job applicants 4.77
Interviewing job applicants 4.75
Checking references 5.19
Candidate skills testing 4.18
Collaborating / selecting the candidate for hire 4.40
Negotiating / confirming a job offer with the candidate 4.30
Total 27.59 

The time taken on the internal recruitment process has increased over the last three years according to nearly half (49%) of HR directors. Less than one in ten (8%) said the duration had decreased. The challenge to find qualified candidates (59%) was listed as the main reason for the increased time taken during the hiring process, followed by the increase in number of CVs per job opening (52%) and the increase in expectation of the desired candidates (33%).

Reasons for the increased duration of the hiring process over the last three years


Reasons for the increased duration of the hiring process compared to three years ago Percentage of HR Directors
Finding qualified candidates has become more challenging 59%
Number of CVs per job opening has increased 52%
Expectations of the desired candidate have increased 33%
Number of interview rounds has increased 32%
More candidates have accepted other job offers 20%
More internal stakeholders are involved 15%
No internal agreement about the desired candidate 2%

The length of time taken to recruit for a position within their organisation is resulting in some HR directors losing out on talented candidates, who accept jobs from other companies who are able to make hiring decisions more quickly. More than half (54%) of HR directors have lost a qualified candidate to another opportunity because their in-house hiring process was too lengthy, partly because they receive too many unsuitable CVs that all need to be waded through.

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half UK, UAE and South America:

While there is no denying the importance of finding the candidate with the right expertise and cultural fit, as the demand for highly skilled  professionals grows, taking too long to decide may see you miss out on your preferred candidate. To ensure a robust, streamlined recruitment process, it is essential that the job description and budget allocation are approved ahead of time. A specialist recruitment consultancy can support by leveraging insight into current hiring trends and having access to an established pool of talent that may not be actively searching. Recruitment consultants can manage the process – from sourcing skilled candidates, filtering CVs and arranging interviews through reference checks – allowing the hiring manager to remain focused on their day-to-day responsibilities.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, Director and Co-Founder, 10Eighty:

How can HR directors spend nearly a month recruiting for open positions in their organisation? It’s clearly important to have a comprehensive interview process but imagine how stressful it is for the candidate to wait that length of time to hear whether they got the job? Do people really want to work for organisations who are slow at making decisions?

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.