Why you need an agile recruitment process

By Tom Huggins


Finding the right candidate for your role can be challenging. The right skills, experience, culture fit and personality are all important to making a long-term hire to invest in. Often with multiple interview stages and multiple management levels the recruitment process takes at best weeks, but more often months. According to Gartner, the average time a company spends identifying and onboarding a recruit is now over 72 days. And this lengthy recruitment process could be hurting your business. 

recent BBC article highlighting an ever-increasing number of job interview rounds stated that the technology industry, finance and energy sectors were among some of the lengthiest interview processes. 

Companies that luxuriate too much in their decision making are facing a very real risk of missing out on great talent. In a recent Robert Half survey, 67% of job seekers around the world admitted to having accepted a second-choice job offer because their preferred employer took too long over the hiring decision. Unbelievably, the survey revealed that a whopping 31% of candidates revealed they had waited six weeks or more to hear back from a potential employer following an interview, despite feeling that the longest acceptable time a candidate should be left biting their nails between initial application and final offer, is up to a month. 

Organisations that are serious about attracting the best candidates need to streamline the recruitment process as much as possible. The right skills are in short supply and to get the candidates with those skills, you need to assess a candidate quickly, identifying whether they could be right for your business, or whether it’s time to move on to the next one. 

The speed and agility with which you make managers available for interviews, assess your candidates and reach a decision will become a clear differentiator in the creative and software industries where so much of a focus is on the delivery of ideas. It also speaks volumes about the type of organisation your business is – whether it’s a dynamic player, or whether your business takes a more evolutionary approach to change.


Having an efficient agile recruitment process will also enable your company to take advantage of a shifting tech jobs market. According to the latest UK Tech Talent Tracker from Accenture, job postings for AI skills have seen a resurgence, jumping 73% in six months. Robotics roles are also up by almost two-thirds, with demand for blockchain and quantum computing skills jumping 50% and 46%, respectively.

And there is a clear commercial advantage in adopting an agile recruitment process: Gartner calculated that a more efficient procedure could reduce the cost per hire by over a third (37%) and a similar figure (31%) improvement in recruiter productivity.

To achieve a more streamlined recruitment process, you need to consider your current recruitment journey. From how vacancies are defined to the application form that candidates complete; look at how you can streamline each element - not just to improve its efficiency, but also to improve the candidate experience. For many, your recruitment process will be their first contact with your company.

A job hunter wrote in one Forbes article: “Having gone through the lengthy interview process at many different companies and been treated so poorly, I now know where I don’t want to work and the companies where I won’t buy their products. It’s truly shocking at the lack of respect for job candidates these days.” That comment was from 2017. In many companies, the state of their recruitment processes has not improved since then.

From an HR perspective, developing agile methodologies can seem strange and unfamiliar. However, in this post-pandemic era, all successful enterprises need to be agile, to be able to react and innovate at speed and the ability to react and change needs to extend to every part of the organisation. 


1. Define your goals

Clearly defined job descriptions are critical if you’re to locate, interview and onboard candidates at speed. Hiring managers may make changes and HRs need to remain close to the process throughout to see these amendments, which can be used to re-define their candidate selection.

2. Make job descriptions, clean, clear and comprehensive

Nail your job description. By taking the time to meet (maybe several times) with hiring managers, you’ll be able to ensure you can accurately reflect the hiring manager’s needs within the job specification. Agile methodologies will give you the space and flexibility to make these last minutes description changes, and ensure the job descriptions used are the most up-to-date.

3. Gain internal approvals

Base your recruitment on accurate information. Agile recruitment requires watertight specificity, so tying down job descriptions, levels of responsibility and salary ranges before setting out on the recruitment journey is important. Missing these elements may cause friction, slowing the process down or leading to inappropriate candidates being placed on shortlists.

4. Frequent feedback

Agile HR relies on frequent feedback to ensure that those candidates being interviewed are of interest to the hiring managers, connecting HR with the organisation’s strategic personnel requirements. 

5. Minimise those involved in the recruitment process

When recruiting some roles, every man and his wife can want a say in who you hire. Resist the urge to use the recruitment process to get other employees onboard and streamline your interview panels. Trying to get everyone’s diaries together can be a headache. By limiting the size of your interview panels you automatically reduce the complexity of arranging interviews and gathering feedback. Before you arrange interviews, check schedules carefully to avoid cancelling and changing interviews or calls once they’ve been arranged. Cancelling or moving scheduled interview dates and times for candidates can be frustrating and slows the recruitment process down. 

6. Stay in touch!

Keep your manager close and your candidates closer. A lack of communication with candidates can send the wrong message about your organisation. Update candidates on their progress with regular communication, give them the warm and fuzzies and start making them want to join your organisation right from the outset. 

7. Remote is the new normal

Embrace a recruitment process that can accommodate remote recruitment. To be able to deliver an agile recruitment process, you must be able to efficiently and effectively communicate, evaluate, and then onboard candidates remotely.

8. Make a decision

We’re used to setting dates for objectives, so set a fixed date and time by when a decision will be made for each vacancy. This is a critical element of agile recruitment as it gives everyone connected to the recruitment process a date to work towards for filling each vacancy. 

9. Analyse your performance

Don’t stop at determining a deadline. Agile recruitment is an ongoing process. Define key performance indicators that you can refer back to when appraising the recruitment process. Define KPIs that you can use to measure your results against. These should be relevant to your business but could include whether the job description was accurate enough to attract candidates with a suitable skill set, the ratio of candidates sent to the hiring manager who were interviewed, and the time and cost incurred in hiring a candidate. All of these can be used to help you continue to refine your recruitment strategy, making it as agile as possible.  

You may find it useful to visualise the agile recruitment process you moved through. You could use a traditional whiteboard and Post-It notes to visualise your journey, or a digital tool such as Trello to share the recruitment process with your colleagues and other stakeholders. Some HRs also find approaches such as creating a Kanban board a useful tool.

Creating agile recruitment for your business is reflective of the trend towards a more agile approach to overall business operations. Innovation happens at speed and it makes sense to ensure recruiting is no longer the drawn-out affair that it has been in the past.

For more information, please contact me Tom Huggins on +44(0)118 988 1153 or email me

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