The Power of Time Within the Recruitment Process

The Power of Time Within the Recruitment Process by Steve D Salem

There are many key considerations for candidates and indeed clients to bear in mind when it comes to the recruitment process. For instance, on the candidate side, whether the role is suitable for their experience, salary, work/life balance, cultural environment, and future career progression. On the client side, considerations include whether the candidate might be a good cultural fit, provide the firm with the expertise and experience they are looking for, and whether that candidate might be a good long term prospect (particularly where partnership might be a factor).

However, when these criteria match, the proverbial stars align and both the firm in question and the candidate are keen to move things forwards, another important aspect in the process is time. This is to say that once the recruitment process is ongoing and in order to maintain momentum (on both the candidate and the client side), both must keep things ticking along promptly to avoid it breaking down. This is easier said than done.  Candidates can be busy and can delay responding for a few days, and clients can also keep things in limbo by seeing the process through with other candidates, waiting for larger group approval, or even through vacation absence (when key decision makers are away).

The effect of a delay in the process can be drastic; candidates that have expected to join up with a firm can pursue or secure other opportunities elsewhere, become disinterested or even pull out of the whole recruitment process altogether. Firms faced with a slow responding candidate/recruitment consultant can also become disinterested, secure a candidate elsewhere that enters the process or a set of circumstances could come up in the interim that mean the firm is not hiring altogether.

There are however a few things that both candidates and clients can do to smooth over the process and keep things rolling along.

For Candidates

Assuming that the candidate has applied via the help of a recruitment agency, it helps to keep your recruiter in the loop, particularly if there is an active position within the market that you have been approached about that looks of interest. Giving the green light to go forward in a timely manner can save the role going to someone else (who might not even be as well suited).

Whilst in the interview process, passing across prompt positive feedback (both on the part of the candidate and then the recruiter) to the client can also be very important. A client that initially had a positive impression of a candidate can grow disinterested should that not be reciprocated, and delayed or non-existent feedback sometimes has a tendency to stall a process altogether.

For Clients

Similarly, for clients, if interested in progressing with a candidate, passing across detailed instructions on the future recruitment process, and next steps can be very helpful. Providing the candidate with a roadmap and an end goal, provides certainty and an understanding of where the process is heading, rather than a series of assessment hoops to jump through that don’t seem to have an end.

If there is a delay in the process (i.e. if key decision makers are away or cannot make a decision promptly), passing across a positive message to the candidate can go a long way. It will maintain any accrued goodwill with the candidate gained during the interview process and keep the candidate focused on that particular opportunity, reducing the risk of them heading for a competitor.

For example, if a candidate is currently considering options in the market, there is a high probability that they will be interviewing with more than one firm (particularly the good ones).  In an incident that I saw with a candidate of mine, she began the process with Client A much earlier than with Client B, but it was Client A’s failure to act quickly that resulted in her joining Client B. She really liked Client A, but their inability to communicate next steps resulted in the candidate taking the offer she had in hand. Client A may have been able to avoid this by providing at the very least a timescale upon which a decision was due to be made.   

Furthermore, for candidates seeking a move, and particularly those who mentally have one foot out of the door, a day can seem like a week, and so providing an update for future action and a defined timeline can go a long way in giving candidates certainty as to when feedback might be received (if there might be a delay).


In sum, and besides the other key criteria in assessing an opportunity or a candidate, time is another key factor and is one that perhaps is overlooked a little too often during the process. To avoid the risk of missing out on an opportunity, candidates should follow up with, and update their recruiters promptly. Similarly, clients should keep candidates they are interested in proceeding with in the loop, to fend off any risk of them seeking other opportunities elsewhere.