By James Caan, Business Entrepreneur

Looking for a job is an important process to people. This should be taken into account when keeping them waiting for feedback, especially when they have taken their time to research your company and attend the interview. It’s only fair to offer them the same amount of respect and keep waiting time to a minimum.

Obviously your time will be consumed by the selection process and decision making and it is important that you take your time in order to employ the appropriate person. Yes, you have decisions to make and possibly a short list to review, and you don’t want to employ the wrong person, that’s for sure – but letting someone wait too long means you haven’t planned your recruitment process properly.

After that initial interview it is important that your final selection process is efficient. At the very least you should let unsuccessful candidates know straight away so they aren’t waiting around getting their hopes up. And what about the candidates you do want? I know of plenty of good people who’ve had to wait too long for a response to their preferred and then taken an alternative job in the meantime. That delay in your process could be costing you a good candidate.

There are lots of things you’ve got to do after seeing a candidate. You’ve got to talk objectively about them internally, and then you’ve got to make a short list or arrange a second interview and check references. So, if this is what you’ve got to do, then why not tell your candidates how long this will take? All you have got to do is explain how long the process will take and when you are likely to notify them one way or the other.

Taking references can be time consuming so it’s best done as soon as possible after the first interview. To speed things up, you can of course check them over the phone. A written reference is always going to be something of a formality, so I find a verbal one much more revealing and you can always ask for the formal written reference later.

I often involve my team in interviews so that I get a broad range of opinions, and often I employ people straight after I’ve interviewed them, but that’s my style. If I think they’re good I don’t want to lose them. If I’m not sure then I discuss internally. In the latter case I usually end up by saying something like: “I’ll give you a decision in x days/weeks”. If you still can’t make up your mind after a few weeks at most, then your instincts are probably telling you not to go ahead.

It is important to understand that it is not just for the candidate’s sake to keep waiting time to a minimum, but also for the benefit of the company. Deliberating and stretching out the decision making time is actually costing your company. Think about it. You need to wrap things up for your benefit too.

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