Recruiting at Microwave Speed


The Tex-Mex restaurant chain Baja Fresh has a sign on the wall for their customers “Baja Fresh food cannot be made at microwave speed.” A Trademarked statement immediately positions its quality at a level above the competition. Whether you agree with that about the food or not, the suggestion is that speed can sacrifice quality. 

The recent and ongoing battle over the top talent in the industry has caused many companies to take a good hard look at why they may or may not be attracting the best or closing the deal with their top choice. Many hiring managers express frustration with their own company’s speed in the process. “We move too slow, and we drag our feet.” Many companies have changed their approach to be more efficient, but some are at risk of cutting corners & making mistakes. The microwave is fast but can sometimes leave a soggy result. 

As recruiters, the last thing we want our clients to do is to move slower. We advise our clients to consider why they may be losing out on talent. Speed seems to be the defacto excuse, which could very well be the reason. However, it is often more complicated than that.  

As an example, take this real-life scenario we encountered with a client. The President of a small, private company, let’s call them XYZ Corp, told us they recruited an experienced Senior Product Manager to entertain a critical position through their networking. This Product Manager, let’s call her Sally, went through the following process with XYZ: 

Tuesday: a 30-minute call with the HR/Operations Director, who invited Sally for a formal interview. 

Wednesday of the following week (8 days later): Sally spent the morning engaged in a formal interview. When Sally left the building, the executives were all high-fiving each other because they believed they had finally landed a great one. 

Monday (5 days after that): XYZ sent her the best offer they could. The following day Sally thanked them for their time, but she declined. She had an excellent offer from another firm in her hand and decided to go that route. 

The President went on at length about speed and timing when he spoke to us, saying, “If only we got her the offer the day after the meeting or before she left.” Although five days between the final interview and the offer is not ideal, speed was clearly not the only factor in her decision. Think about it. If Sally ranked XYZ as a top choice, at or above the same ranking as the other firm, she would have told them about their competition and tried to push them to make their decision sooner. XYZ was likely just a backup plan for her the whole time. 

The point of this story is that companies and their recruiters need to take the critical exercise of fully understanding how potential candidates view them and their place in the industry. How quickly you can get an offer out to top talent matters, but what matters more is selling yourself as a top company that they will stick out the process to work with.