The dangers of window shopping: why delayed hiring processes benefit no one

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There’s an old adage, bordering on a cliché: “hire slow and fire fast”. There’s a limit to this though – delayed hiring decisions, pulled jobs (and, of course, plenty of firing) is causing frustration among recruiters and job-seekers throughout the City. In the long term, this is bad thing.

With so much talent on the market, the financial services organisations that are hiring are taking their time. The interview process is stretching, sign off is delayed and the final go-ahead can sometimes be pulled because of budgetary restraints.

“We put no more than five candidates forward per vacancy, but when you consider that eight other suppliers are doing the same, that’s 40 people going for interview, which is huge,” says Ben Cowan, director at Astbury Marsden. “The difference is that most people are high-calibre, and banks are willing to see them all, which can extend both the number of interviews and the time-frame.”

There are a couple of other things hampering the hiring process. Firstly, banks are under pressure to consider internal candidates and any external applicants must either have an exact skills fit or “bring something unique”, according to one financial services recruiter. Secondly, a new willingness to hire the recently redundant means that banks feel it’s possible to take their time because of a candidate’s immediate availability and lack of alternative options.

“If you have a good relationship with a banks’ hiring manager, very often they’ll tell you not to bother sending any CVs unless you have someone exceptional because they have strong internal candidates,” says another financial services recruiter.

Less common, but equally frustrating, is the inertia around the final sign off process. Some roles are pulled, but it’s more likely that recruitment teams within the banks will have to re-justify each hire at the final approval stage.

“This can take weeks,” says one investment banking recruitment head. “It’s frustrating for us, for recruiters and candidates and can often mean that we miss out on a good candidate.”

Obviously, this is bad for the reputation of the bank (although recruiters suggest that the efficiency of the process can vary between different resourcing teams in the same organisation), but recruiters have more of an interest in maintaining a good relationship with the candidate longer term.

“Sometimes even the human resource liaison and the recruitment consultant aren’t even told the candidate is rejected,” says David Leithead, managing director, Michael Page Financial Services. “If literally no feedback can be squeezed from the client, then the recruiter needs to try and give some objective feedback themselves to the candidate, and between them speculate about what may have been missing or scope for improvement, with a view to how they can succeed in the next interview.”

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