Our candidate had made it to the finals. After three weeks of interviewing and four or five interviews he finally made it to, what the hiring authority told him would be the last step. Any recruiter that’s been doing this for more than five years doesn’t believe a hiring authority when they say “there is just one last step.” Now the hiring authority may think that, but most of us who have been around for any length of time know that may not be so.
And sure enough, after what was supposed to be the final interview and an offer being made, the interviewing authority, two levels above the hiring authority, told our candidate that someone would “get back to him.” After two days of trying to follow up we finally reached the hiring authority, the one that has the need to hire, and he told us that he was phenomenally frustrated with the whole thing because his boss’s boss still wasn’t sure that our candidate was the right one. Our client had been looking for a candidate on and off for four months. They tried to hire two of the candidates they really liked in the beginning of the job search and because they did not act fast enough, the candidates took other jobs.
We tried to explain to our client that they were suffering from paralysis-by-analysis and since they were afraid to make a decision, they were likely not to make a good one. They kept saying “we don’t want to make a mistake… we don’t want to make a mistake.” So they added all kinds of hoops the candidates needed to jump through thinking that they are going to protect themselves that way. They thought that the process, if they did it the right way, was going to protect them. It didn’t.
Our candidate could not believe it. He was mad as hell now and was saying things like, “these guys are so sharp and bright I can’t believe they have turned out to be such wimps at the end of the game”. He obviously wanted the job and could do a really good job of it, but for some reason nobody, even the hiring authority, could quite figure out why the people above him were so frightened and so unwilling to commit to our candidate who was his choice.
This company was suffering from “decision fatigue.” Decision fatigue is “the deteriorating quality of decisions made by people after a long session of decision making.” Our client was deciding “not to decide”, which, of course, is a decision in and of itself.
The longer the interviewing process takes and the more people that are involved in it, the more likely that the people involved in the hiring process will succumb to decision fatigue. They will just get tired of the whole thing and “decide” not to hire anyone. Or worse, they will hire the next candidate who comes along, whether they’re qualified or not because they are just so tired of dealing with the hiring process and having to make a decision on somebody.
Numerous studies show how individuals, even highly intelligent individuals, after a while just plain get tired of having to make a decision and blow off the hiring process even when they know they are making a mistake. 90% of hiring decisions that are ridiculously elongated well beyond what any reasonable person would expect are plagued with this disease. And that is the reason the decision is dragged on for so long, if it is even made it all.
If you’re a candidate and you find that, while you are interviewing, the company you’re interviewing with has been looking to fill the position for a very long period of time and can’t seem to decide, you now know what’s going on. It’s decision fatigue. If you’re a hiring authority and you’d like to know why you and your peers get so bogged down with these kinds of decisions when you seem to be able to do other things so well, you now know what’s going on. It’s decision fatigue.