Slow hiring processes cause Australian organisations to lose top candidates

Companies need to act fast during the recruitment process in order to secure top talent. Read more here.

  • 57% of Australian HR managers have lost a qualified candidate to another opportunity because of a lengthy hiring process, a figure that rises to 67% in large organisations . 
  • 55% say the duration of the hiring process has increased over the past three years, further rising to 66% in large organisations. 
  • More involvement from internal stakeholders (49%), increased candidate expectations (47%) and qualified candidates becoming more challenging to find are cited as the top three reasons for the increased duration of the hiring process.  

Independent research commissioned by specialised recruitment company Robert Half shows the duration of the recruitment process has increased, particularly within larger organisations. With 79% of Australian HR managers being concerned about losing top candidates to competing job offers and companies increasingly vying over top talent, companies need to act fast during the recruitment process in order to secure top talent. 

More than half (55%) of Australian HR leaders say the duration of the hiring process has increased compared to three years ago, which rises to 66% of HR managers within large organisations. 

The main risk of a lengthy recruitment process is losing a qualified candidate to a competing organisation. Almost six in ten (57%) HR managers say they have lost a qualified candidate during the hiring process to another opportunity because the recruitment process took too long. Losing a candidate during a lengthy hiring process seems more common in large organisations. More than two-thirds (67%) of HR managers in large organisations say they have lost a candidate because the hiring process took too long compared to 56% in small companies and 48% in medium-sized organisations.

David Jones, Senior Managing Director Robert Half Asia Pacific said: “With companies spending longer periods of time on the recruitment process to make sure they find the right candidate, they risk losing top professionals, who are often in contention for several roles, over the course of the recruitment process. In a market where top candidates generally know their market value and often get multiple job offers, companies that act quickly once they found a match, have a definite advantage over competing employers.”

“Organisations who want to make sure they secure the talent they are looking for can consider temporary contracts which can serve as a no-obligation trial period before a new employee is offered a permanent role. Because companies can then readily assess the skills of the employee in question, organisations can maintain or boost their productivity by avoiding an (excessively) long recruiting process.”

When asked what the top three reasons are for the increased duration of the hiring process, almost half (49%) of HR leaders refer to the rise in the number of internal stakeholders involved, followed by 47% who say the expectations of the desired candidate have increased and 36% who state that finding qualified candidates has become more challenging. 

“Large organisations in particular generally have more stakeholders involved which can slow down the hiring process. Including the necessary stakeholders from the beginning of the recruitment process and aligning their expectations is a critical component before initiating the search for an employee,” David Jones added. 

“Employers typically set high requirements for the recruitment of new employees. They are looking for top-level performers who have all the need-to-have as well as the nice-to-have skills and looking for this perfect candidate can be a very challenging search. Companies therefore need to make a distinction between must-have skills and nice-to-have skills which can be further developed through professional development and training programs.”

“Tightening the interview process by getting immediate feedback from the candidates to determine their level of interest as well as salary expectations is important to avoid jobseekers becoming disenfranchised during the recruitment process. Streamlining the hiring process from the top down, keeping open lines of communication and timely informing candidates when they can expect to get an answer will help ensure the company doesn’t lose candidates during the recruitment process,” David Jones concluded.

The following question was asked to 100 Australian HR managers: “In your opinion, what are the three primary reasons for the increased duration of the hiring process compared to three years ago?”

More internal stakeholders are involved 49%
Expectations of the desired candidate have increased 47%
Finding qualified candidates has become more challenging 36%
Number of interview rounds has increased 31%
Number of CVs per job opening has increased 20%
More candidates have accepted other job offers 16%
No internal agreement about the desired candidate 7%

Source: Independent survey commissioned by Robert Half among 100 Australian HR managers – three answers per respondent.

Here are some tips to help make the hiring process more efficient:

  • Agree on the budget: Agree on the remuneration package before you start interviewing candidates for the role, so you can sign off on an offer without having to consult other internal stakeholders.  
  • Confirm the job description: Know precisely what skills you are looking for in a candidate and finalise the job description and requirements of the role. Make a distinction between the competencies absolutely necessary for the job and the skills that can be further developed through training.  
  • Set a time limit on the interview process: Set out your hiring timeframe and stick to it. Try not to extend the timeframe with additional rounds of interviews – delaying the hiring process can reduce your odds that the candidate is still available when you do make the offer.
  • Make it a team effort: Identify and include all relevant internal stakeholders and make sure expectations are aligned. Consider working with a specialised recruitment consultancy to find the best candidates.
  • Consider hiring temporary help: Is your team juggling several priorities while you’re looking for a new team member? Consider relieving this pressure by hiring temporary professionals to ease the burden during the hiring process. Or consider temporary contracts so you can assess the skills of the employee before offering him/her a permanent role. 


About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and conducted in April 2016 by an independent research firm, surveying 100 Australian HR managers. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.


Katherine Mills
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7757
E: [email protected]