There are growing calls for Hong Kong-based recruiters to rethink and recalibrate their hiring processes, after a new study found they are often losing the best talent to unnecessary delays in decision-making.

More than 72 per cent of Hong Kong jobseekers have taken an alternative job because their preferred employer took too long to give them an answer, recruitment specialist Robert Half found in a study published last month recently.

And complex recruitment processes used by many employers mean more than half (54 per cent) of candidates have waited longer than a month to hear back about a role for which they have been interviewed, while 27 per cent have waited longer than six weeks – and 21 per cent more than two months. Just 6 per cent got feedback on the same day, according to the study.

Technology can help expedite recruiting, but it needs to be handled with care, according to Asian HR outsourcing services provider Links International. “The critical first step would be for clients to understand their end to end recruitment process and where their challenges are,” Links International group manager Scott Thomson told People Management. “Adding tech to an inefficient process just amplifies your inefficiency and wastes resources.”

Thomson advised that “an efficient recruitment process should be like a smooth supply chain”. That means making the best use of HR metrics “is essential to identifying where in a client’s recruitment process their hiring supply chain is being held up”.

There are a host of issues to consider: before hiring, recruiters need to assess if they are working closely enough with sales and business managers to anticipate vacancies before they are needed and start pipelining – planning and assessing where jobs might become vacant.

Sourcing is another focus, added Thomson - do recruiters find candidates fast enough? Does the candidate requirement per hiring manager change constantly and does that cause the search to start again? When it comes to interviews, are hiring managers sitting on CVs, delaying the recruitment process unnecessarily? And after a candidate has been chosen, do businesses have a restrictively slow reference check and offer process?

“HR tech like video interviews and chatbots tend to be beneficial as screening tools in mass recruitment as large numbers of candidates can be put through similar screening to help identify the best candidates faster,” Thomson said. “But if a client’s roles differ a lot, it can mean the video interviews and chatbots may need to be set up over and over again for each new role, which reduces any efficiency.”

It is all down to calibrating speed and efficiency, said Stuart Elliott, CEO and owner of Elliott Scott HR, who added that ‘time kills deals’.

Elliott agreed that “automation is useful in screening down applicants, but it still won’t make the decision for you”. What is needed is “a selection team that are happy and able to make quick decisions and ultimately stick to a timeframe that has been agreed on prior to the process starting”.

Moreover, recruiters must remember that unemployment is low in Hong Kong (just 2.8 per cent in April) and that “you aren’t the only company hiring anymore.” Having a slick process that delivers decisions within a specified time is important, Elliot said, adding: “Do this and you’ll lose less people in the process.”

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